It’s all about the “A”, Baby!

If you are a client of mine, you know how passionate I am about daily topical use of Vitamin A. It is the core of my skincare practice. The reason why - the results of its consistent use produces healthier, more vibrant and younger skin. Scientific Fact. Yet despite the benefits, vitamin A / Retinol is one of the most misunderstood molecules in skincare. I'm going to help set the record straight and explain why optimizing your vitamin A levels are so important. 

Let's acknowledge some simplified biology "talk" to follow, but it's a must to help in understanding why topical fat-based vitamin A is the secret to healthy and youthful skin!

Vitamin A is an antioxidant and an essential fat-soluble nutrient for every cell of our body. Inside the skin, it’s like a symphony conductor, regulating and normalizing our cellular functions including pigmentation, immunity, and the collagen-producing cells. Vitamin A improves skin texture, hydration levels, UV protection, collagen/elastin and hyaluronic acid production. Yes, your skin contains hyaluronic acid and Vitamin A is its requirement for synthesis! Stay with me.

What’s interesting is FAT is a critical component to vitamin A absorption, given that it's a FAT-soluble nutrient, and a low-fat diet could induce a Vitamin A deficiency that leads to poor immunity, skin issues (eczema, acne, pigmentation), hormonal issues, and more. 

This is where it gets interesting. And I’m going to simplify this so I don’t lose your interest. We are not eating our skincare products that contain Vitamin A!  Read that again. The metabolism of Vitamin A inside the body is very different from how it is metabolized when applied topically. We are applying products topically, so it's critical what form of Vitamin A we use!  There are alcohol forms, fat forms and acid forms of Vitamin A utilized inside the body. How Vitamin A enters the skin, what side effects it produces, and how it is then utilized by our cells when applied topically should not be overlooked! That is why we want fat-based vitamin A. 

Here is the reality: If we are applying Retinol or Retinoic Acid (Retin A), we can easily experience dryness and irritation at the skin level. This is expected as these are the very active important alcohol and acid forms. They are also unstable and cause sun-sensitivity. If we apply the fat forms, like Retinyl Palmitate, vitamin A enters our lipid-loving skin layer seamlessly with no side effects. We see better results faster with the increased vitamin A accumulation it can provide, and it even acts like a natural sunblock!  And the clincher is, it metabolizes into Retinol and Retinoic Acid (Retin A) inside the skin daily and as needed by our cells!

There are hundreds if not thousands of Retinoid products on the market today. It can be confusing and overwhelming. It shouldn’t be. Make sure your vitamin A program uses fat-based Retinyl Palmitate for best absorption and results. It should be the foundation of your daily skincare ritual! As a practicing, licensed Esthetician of 20 years, it is easy to see how people can get drawn into the marketing of products or ideas. I’ve seen them all and touched a thousand faces. Skin health is an additive biological process and it is why it is all about the (fat based) “A”, baby.