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Myths about Retinoid


Vitamin A and its derivatives play an undeniable role in medical aesthetics, appearing in many anti-aging and skin whitening skincare products. Consumers should understand the differences between different vitamin A derivatives to avoid being misled.

The commonly used vitamin A and its derivatives in skincare products include retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl propionate, retinol, and retinoic acid. Retinol and retinyl palmitate are the most widely used active ingredients with distinctly different effects on the skin but are often misunderstood. To understand the differences between different vitamin A products, it’s important to understand the differences between vitamin A alcohol, vitamin A palmitate, and retinoic acid, as well as estimate the treatment effects and skin reactions based on their different concentrations.

Vitamin A alcohol is the entire vitamin A molecule, while vitamin A palmitate is a combination of vitamin A alcohol and palmitic acid. Vitamin A alcohol (vitamin A) can be broken down into smaller molecules, one of which is retinoic acid, the “gold standard” anti-aging product recognized by the medical community. Retinoic acid can effectively reduce wrinkles, firm the skin, and tighten pores, but its side effects are high, often causing skin irritation, peeling, and more. It is one of the prescription drugs (tretinoin), so skincare products generally only contain vitamin A alcohol or vitamin A palmitate.

Vitamin A alcohol penetrates the skin, increases skin elasticity, and enhances the metabolism of the epidermis while also stimulating the dermis to produce collagen. As we age, collagen loss causes wrinkles and enlarged pores. Vitamin A alcohol penetrates deep into the skin, where it is converted to retinoic acid by endonucleases. It’s important to note that only retinoic acid is active and has a direct impact on the skin. Vitamin A alcohol and vitamin A palmitate only work after conversion, but they are less irritating and cause fewer side effects like redness and peeling, making them more easily accepted. However, the effectiveness of vitamin A alcohol and vitamin A palmitate is not equal. It’s easier to convert vitamin A alcohol into retinoic acid than vitamin A palmitate:

Vitamin A palmitate <==> Retinol <==> Retinoic acid

Therefore, the potency of vitamin A palmitate is lower than that of vitamin A alcohol. In addition, we must also pay attention to their concentration. Lotions must contain at least 0.2% vitamin A alcohol to improve skin problems.

Therefore, when purchasing products containing vitamin A, it’s important to know the concentration and type of vitamin A. If the concentration is not listed, especially if it’s lower on the ingredient list, it’s likely to be lower in concentration. Consumers should pay special attention!