Since the swinging sixties..First discovered by dermatologist Dr. Albert Kligman in the 60’s, when it comes to our skin, most of us have heard about the use of Vitamin A (retinol) for the improvement in the appearance and dysfunctions of the skin. Even if you’re not using it, you possibly know someone who does or you’re thinking about it or you dabbled for a while, but your skin became too irritated so you gave up.

In the wonderful world of cosmetics it’s true: Vitamin A is a mainstay. Once the discovery was made and the dramatic improvements to the appearance of the skin became well publicized, everyone jumped on the retinol band wagon, but like so many things, once the stampede begins, talk starts, opinions run rampant, eventually leading to the inevitable misconceptions and myths about retinol.

Vitamin A (retinol) and all its derivatives are not new. But the technology, how it’s delivered to the skin and the impact on the skin continues to evolve. A new story needs to be told and a few beauty myths busted.

Myth #1: Vitamin A should not be applied when going out in the sunshine.
While it’s true, when the skin is being regularly treated with retinol it can become more susceptible to sunburn due to the increased amount of exfoliation taking place in a skin stimulated by retinol.

On the other hand, vitamin A is found naturally in the skin and is an essential nutrient for skin health. Everyday exposure to sun light damages our natural supply and a skin with little or no vitamin A will function below par and is at far greater risk of developing basal and squamous cell carcinoma’s than a skin with an abundance of vitamin A.

So while sun protection is always important, so too is the daily addition of a low concentration vitamin A such as the ester, retinol palmitate in your morning routine. Not only will it maintain your skins supply of vitamin A but also contributes to the skins protective antioxidant network.

But, for the preservation and longevity of potent of more potent formulations, I agree and recommend ingredients like tretinoin (prescription only), retinol or retinaldahyde are best used at night while the skin is rejuvenating itself and opt for a moisturizer or serum with retinol palmitate or a low concentration of retinol during the day to support your skin against deficiencies.

Regardless of whether you use your retinol during the day or at night, the actions of a potent retinol product on the skin will always need to be offset with the daily use of a broad spectrum sun protection. Wearing a sunscreen daily should just be part of your anti-ageing modus operandi. Consider the inclusion of Vitamin A in the form of retinol palmitate in your morning routine to protect your skin from the loss caused by sun exposure.

vitamin a refining complex


Vitamin A promotes cellular renewal and speeds up exfoliation to reveal younger, more ample skin. This oil-free complex penetrates deeply into the skin to help diminish the appearance of lines and wrinkles caused by the sun and aging. It provides healing nutrients, leaving even the most sun-damaged skin feeling soft and supple.

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Myth #2: As long as my serum or cream has vitamin A, it’s all good. When it comes to any form of topically applied vitamin A, the quality of the formulation, the packaging, the concentration of vitamin A and the type you use are all important factors to consider.

A poorly formulated vitamin A serum with a tiny sprinkling of retinol will do very little for the skin and in some cases can set off a cascade of irritation leading to rashiness in the skin.

While initially some level of irritation and discomfort can be expected, an ongoing rash or itchiness is not part of the retinol solution and sophisticated formulations rarely cause any rash or itchiness in your skin.

Myth #3: I don’t need vitamin A, my skin is in great condition; I’m too young.
When it comes to vitamin A, we all need it. First and foremost we need to ensure we are getting enough vitamin A through the foods we eat. Secondly, keeping your skin healthy and strong well into our advancing years can be achieved through regular use of a topically applied vitamin A serum.

Sure, if you have a flawless skin, then you may not need a strong concentration, but going without any vitamin A in your routine would be a mistake. Normal young skins will benefit from a serum or cream with retinol palmitate or a low dose retinol product.

If you’ve spent a good part of your adult years exposing your skin to the sun, then a high concentration of tretinoin, retinol or retinaldahyde is highly recommended.

Myth #4: The best vitamin A is a prescription from a dermatologist.
While prescription vitamin A (tretinoin) brings with it powerful results for those of us whose skin is visibly showing the wear and tear of life or suffering adult acne.

Straight up tretinoin does have its drawbacks. It can be very irritating and long-term use can be limited due to the constant irritation and redness in the skin. The other issue to be considered is, most prescription brands of Vitamin A do not contain other important skin nutrients like vitamin E and C, to protect the skin from free radical damage.

So, while short-term use of tretinoic acid provides fantastic results, after a time you may want to switch to a cosmetic preparation of vitamin A with added antioxidant nutrients.

Myth #5: I can’t use topical vitamin A while I’m pregnant. Now, I would never ever suggest the use of a topical vitamin A during pregnancy if it worries you. However, there is no evidence to suggest the small amount of vitamin A found in your cream or serum is going to do any harm to your baby. You are far more likely to ingest a greater amount of vitamin A from your normal diet than you could ever absorb through a cosmetically formulated vitamin A cream or serum.

That being said, if you’re using a tretinoin prescription, then sure, chat with the prescribing doctor to allay your fears or just skip it all together and keep your skin care routine simple during your pregnancy.

Enough with the myths how about some truth.

Now that we’ve got through a few myths, I have a couple of truths for you.

• Start using vitamin A morning and night!! Retinol palmitate or a low concentration retinol is great for daytime use.

• Keep your ‘big guns’ like tretinoic acid, high concentration retinol or retinaldahyde for night time application.

• If you are using vitamin A for the first time or giving it another try, start slowly either with a low concentration or, if you’ve been recommended a potent formulation then introduce on alternating nights until your skin develops a tolerance to nightly use.

• If you’ve had a bad experience with vitamin A, don’t give up, your skin will adjust; it’s about finding the right formula that suits you. If you want more info you might like this article here.

• Always wear a sunscreen regardless of when you apply your vitamin A product.

• Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A in your diet. The best sources can be found in cod liver oil as well as other animal sources, such as meat and dairy products. If you are a vegan or vegetarian then you’ll need to source a quality vitamin A supplement as beta carotene from vegetables may not be enough.

And now you?

Does your beauty routine include vitamin A? What’s your experience? Leave a comment below or if you have a question shoot me an email here, I’d love to hear from you or if you liked this article why not share it with your friends.

See you next time!

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