Vitamin A is vital for skin, eye and reproductive health.  Here we are looking at the advantages for skin.

Read more

The truth about Vitamin A

Sponsors’ article: Sarah Hurst Skin Clinic

There are many ingredients in cosmetics that claim to be a miracle cure for ageing, sun damaged and acne skin.  It’s a market full of hype, so how do you work out the fact from the fiction?  Firstly, we need to determine what our skin needs to make it healthy and replenish it with these ingredients.  THE most important vitamin and ingredient is Vitamin A.  Vitamin A is vital for skin, eye and reproductive health.  Here we are looking at the advantages for skin.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding this amazing ingredient and this is understandable.  If it was straight forward, I wouldn’t be writing this blog to try and clarify the matter.  Even in the skincare world itself, there is a lot of misinformation.  When looking at different treatments that we can introduce into our clinic, many of the companies say that “the client mustn’t use vitamin A products for a period of time before the treatment”.  Why not?  “Because it thins the skin and over sensitises it” is the usual reply.  Really?  Vitamin A is known to thicken the skin, so why is this? It comes down to the form that the Vitamin A is carried in and the strength of the Vitamin A.

I’d like to put the record straight here, without blinding you all with so much science that you fall asleep or just get completely confused.  Now, I’m not a scientist or even a medical professional for that matter.  I am an aesthetic therapist who has worked with skin for over 30 years and with vitamin A products for around 15 years and have seen the transformations that applying this ingredient to the skin provides.  However, in some forms, as much the skin can gain results from it, Vitamin A can sensitise the skin.

Medically prescribed forms of Vitamin A are often extremely strong.  The skin isn’t acclimatised to receiving so much of the vitamin in one go and therefore our skin tends to react. Medically prescribed Vitamin A is usually Retin-A and is using an alcohol base as its carrier.  We need Retin-A, but it isn’t needed on the surface of the skin, it is needed in the skin cells themselves for results.  By applying Retin-A to the skin surface it acts as an irritant, and the skin can get dry and sensitive from application.

We can get all the results from Vitamin A by applying it to the skin in the form of Retinyl Parmitate.  This has a fat ester as it’s carrier and is the natural form of Vitamin A found in the skin.  Retinyl Parmitate goes through a conversion process in our skin and the ultimate ingredient is Retin-A which is converted directly in the skin cells.  This means that it doesn’t act as an irritant in the skin surface and is much more easily absorbed and utilised.

By having a step-up process in Vitamin A application also means that the skin has chance to acclimatise before moving onto the next strength.  The higher the strength, the better the results, but not at the detriment of the skin being sensitised to too high levels without acclimatisation.  It is important to build up gradually.

On a final note a couple of key facts.  If you were to go out into the sun all day and seek to get a tan, then you would lose around 90% of the vitamin A in your body.  To replenish that then you would need to be in a darkened room for 5 – 7 days.  Therefore, surely it makes perfect sense to be replacing this most important ingredient to ensure that you keep your skin at it’s healthiest and avoid having a “vitamin deficient” skin.