What is vitamin A? And why is it used in skin care?
The different types of vitamin A
In practice, the word vitamin A covers several different chemical structures with somewhat different effects and potency on the skin. The natural forms of vitamin A consist of retinol (vitamin A alcohol) and the derivatives of retinol. Derivatives are substances that can be formed from retinol, but which can also be converted into retinol. The natural derivatives of vitamin A are:
- Retinal (A-vitamin aldehyde)
- Retinoic acid (vitamin A acid)
- Vitamin A esters (such as retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate and retinyl acetate
The use of vitamin A in skin care and side effects
It is now well known that cream formulations of vitamin A, through various mechanisms, are effective in the treatment of several skin disorders such as acne/pimples/blackheads, psoriasis, ichthyosis and actinic keratoses. In addition, vitamin A has shown a robust effect in the treatment of photodamaged/premature aging of the skin. There are well-documented effects in both the epidermis and dermis with increased thickness of the epidermis as well as new formation of blood vessels and collagen in the dermis. This reduces fine lines, wrinkles, pigment damage and improves the skin's surface.
However, there are two very important side effects with the potent vitamin A forms that limit their use:
Side effects in the skin that cause skin irritation with inflammation/inflammation, soreness, redness, flaking and increased UV sensitivity, which in turn leads to an increased risk of UV damage. The side effects in the skin often persist for a long time, even when the dose is reduced.
Teratogenicity (fetal damage) if vitamin A is used as prescription tablets by pregnant women. No connection has been found between the use of vitamin A in cream formulations in pregnant women and birth defects. Nevertheless, pregnant women are advised not to use vitamin A in cream as a precautionary principle.
Skin irritation when using vitamin A in skin products
The skin irritation seen when vitamin A is used in skin products is called "retinoid reaction". This is because several of the vitamin a derivatives contain an organic acid group (carboxyl group). The retinoid reaction usually occurs within the first few weeks, often the first week, of use. The degree of skin irritation depends on which vitamin a derivative is used. The skin irritation is reduced in some people over time, especially when the dose is reduced, but can be persistent throughout the treatment period. The acid group that causes the reaction causes an inflammatory reaction in the skin with the release of inflammation-related signaling substances (inflammatory cytokines). The inflammatory reaction causes redness, dryness of the skin, burning sensation, flaking, reduced barrier function and increased fluid loss. In isolation, the inflammatory response also increases the oxidative stress in the skin, although some retinoids can have an antioxidant effect. There is also increased photo/UV sensitivity in the skin, and UV protection is recommended.
Which type of Vitamin A should one use?
Optimally, you want a great effect, without a retinoid reaction.
We know that retinoic acid (vitamin a acid) is the most potent form of vitamin a and is the one that exerts the greatest biological activity in the skin. Retinoic acid is actually a hormone and works by binding to DNA in cells. This regulates how the cells, and thus the skin, should behave. Retinoic acid is not permitted in cosmetic products and is defined as a medicinal product. Retinoic acid is also very irritating to the skin, and in most people the side effects would have been greater than the benefits of its use. Cosmetic products therefore often use precursors/derivatives that are converted to retinoic acid in the skin, which have less effect, but are also less irritating.
Retinol is frequently used in cosmetic products and is converted by enzymes in the skin into retinal, which in turn can be converted into retinoic acid. Retinol still causes significant skin irritation in many people. In addition, retinol is very unstable and is inactivated by light and air, and mixed with other ingredients the effect can be unpredictable.
Retinyl esters, such as retinyl propiate and retinyl palmitate, are stable vitamin A derivatives, which give little retinoid reaction. Retinyl esters are converted by enzymes into retinol, which in turn can be further converted into active retinoic acid in the skin. Retinyl esters are weaker retinoids than retinol, but with significantly less skin irritation. In fact, retinyl palmitate is said to be non-irritating, although it has been documented that topical use of retinyl palmitate increases retinol concentration in the skin
Why we have chosen retinyl palmitate in SUPERFOOD multipurpose vitamin facegel
Our skin care range consists of few and effective products with numerous active ingredients in each product. SUPERFOOD multipurpose vitamin face gel contains, among other things, retinyl palmitate, high dose niacinamide and high dose dexpanthenol, which are known to reduce inflammation in the skin. Retinyl palmitate is a retinoid in the retinyl ester group that makes up more than 70% of the vitamin A types found in human skin. When applied topically to the skin, the body's natural enzymes convert retinyl palmitate into retinol, and then into other active forms of vitamin A. This retinoid then becomes a powerful anti-aging ingredient that helps reduce wrinkles by promoting the growth of new skin cells. The combination of vitamins and antioxidants in SUPERFOOD is composed so that you as a consumer will achieve visible anti-aging results, and that without downtime. Used as the only skin care product for 8 weeks gets 10 out of 10:
- reduced wrinkles
- improved elasticity
- improved skin tightness
SUPERFOOD, like all our products, can be used by all skin types and skin conditions, and it can be used all year round.
Dr. Ankerstjerne is skin care developed for Scandinavian conditions, produced by the Norwegian medical couple Stine and Andre Ankerstjerne. With their medical background, the couple have created a cosmeceutical series consisting of few, but highly effective products that keep their promises. In the series you will find facial cleanser , day cream , night cream , wrinkle cream and serum. Read more about the series here on the website and in our skincare blog.