Vitamin A for Skin: 5 Benefits and How to Use It

We know that vitamin A is often referred to as the gold-standard ingredient in topical skincare. It is primarily used to combat the visible signs of ageing and address problematic or acneic skins by increasing cellular turnover. However, vitamin A is such a complex ingredient that it can be a perplexing ingredient to decipher when it comes to the exact benefits and usage. 

One of the keys to understanding vitamin A is that not all vitamin A products are made the same. There are many different forms, or derivatives, of vitamin A. These include retinol, retinol esters, retinaldehyde, and retinoic acid. The type of A can determine the penetration into the skin, as well as its efficacy, but so too can the strength of the product, i.e. the quantity of vitamin A derivative used.

Generally speaking, vitamin A products all boast similar benefits.

Vitamin A Benefits:

  1. Age prevention
    It’s a powerful collagen stimulator, meaning plumper, firmer skin with less wrinkle formation for longer.

  2. Oil regulation
    Many acneic and problematic/breakout-prone skins suffer due to excessive sebum production. Vitamin A can slow this down and bring it back under control, reducing the incidence of acne lesions and blockages.

  3. DNA expression
    Vitamin A is used to regulate the inscription of our DNA, ensuring optimal function and prevention of mutations. 

  4. Pigmentation
    Vitamin A also helps to regulate the activity of melanocytes, and is used to control excess production of pigmentation.

  5. Protection
    Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage helping to delay the signs of ageing. 

Another key factor to consider is that our skin already has vitamin A receptors within it. These receptors detect when vitamin A is present, absorb it, and put it to good use. Vitamin A is essential in a number of cellular functions within the body. However, these receptors have a baseline quantity of vitamin A tolerance, and can be overloaded if plied with too much too quickly. If you’ve had an adverse reaction to vitamin A, you will know exactly what this means. Many believe they are allergic or sensitive to vitamin A without realising that this baseline tolerance exists, and have simply overwhelmed their receptors. Signs of this can include inflammation, itchiness and flakiness, and rosacea-type symptoms. Thankfully, this tolerance is something that can be increased slowly over time.

Tips for vitamin A Use

  1. Follow instructions carefully.
    Many vitamin A products advise gradual introduction to the skin, ie. applying once every 2-3 days for two weeks, before progressing to once every 1-2 days. If your vitamin A product is daily use but you find you experience sensitivity, you might consider starting at once every 2-day application.

  2. Avoid prescription-strength vitamin A if you wish to receive clinical treatments.
    Many GPs and dermatologists prescribe vitamin A for skins that arguably do not require such a high dose, and what many individuals do not realise is that most clinical treatments such as peels, laser and IPL, skin needling and more, are contraindicated by prescription vitamin A.

  3. Photosensitivity.
    Some vitamin A products can be photosensitises, meaning your skin is more sensitive and prone to UV damage. So check on directions and reserve your retinoids for PM use.

    An exception to this rule is our upgraded Vital A Elixir, formulated with a botanical-based naturally derived form of retinal that is safe to use both morning and night as it is not sensitive to sunlight. This specific type of retinal is created by a biofermentation process and is derived from pink salt lakes.

  4. Ensure you are using SPF throughout the day.
    Particularly if you are using vitamin A for its depigmentation benefits, you may just undo all of your product’s hard work if you aren’t wearing sunscreen daily.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding vitamin A, or would like to begin incorporating one into your skincare routine, why not start by arranging a virtual skin consultation? We offer complimentary 15 or 30 minute sessions in order to provide tailored skincare advice.

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By Mukti

Mukti has been actively involved in the beauty and personal care industry for over two decades. Her varied career has encompassed a common thread focusing on health and wellness. Her aim is to reconnect people to nature, creating health and happiness via toxin-free lifestyles and beauty regimes.