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Vitamin A: A Must-Have for Younger-Looking Skin?

When it comes to anti-aging skincare, you can’t go far without hearing about Vitamin A. Vitamin A is the first vitamin approved by the FDA as an anti-wrinkle agent. It is a powerhouse for preventing and reversing premature signs of aging. That makes vitamin A for anti-aging a no-brainer.

There is a lot to know about Vitamin A, so let’s look at a few questions surrounding this nutrient in terms of how it relates to skincare.

Is Vitamin A the same as Retinol?

You’ve probably heard of retinol – a skincare ingredient that can treat acne, pigmentation, skin texture, and fine lines. You may have also heard it called retinoid or vitamin A. These terms are often used interchangeably, though depending on how the terms are used, that’s not 100% accurate. A brief rundown on vitamin A:

  • Vitamin A can come in two forms: one from animal sources and one from plant sources. Vitamin A from animal sources are retinoids. This is also known as “preformed” vitamin A. Vitamin A from plant sources must first be converted from carotenoids. It is often called “proformed” vitamin A or provitamin A.
  • Retinoids include three forms: retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid. Meaning, retinol is a form of retinoid, but not all retoinoids are retinol. In skincare, the term retinoid is often used to refer to prescription-strength vitamin A products (though it can also refer to any product containing any form of retinoid), while the term retinol would only refer to over-the-counter retinol products, which are milder.
  • Retinoids in cosmetics and skincare are not derived from animal sources. They are always synthetic, because it is impossible to get a stable formulation of retinoids from natural sources. You may see it listed as retinyl palmitate or vitamin A palmitate on an ingredient label.

How Does Vitamin A Improve Skin?

It’s a bold claim, but it’s been shown true: Vitamin A can turn back the clock on signs of skin aging. 

Vitamin A, or retinoid, works in the skin by changing the way skin cells function. Retinoid causes surface skin cells to die, prompting the basal layer of the skin to produce new healthy cells underneath, at a faster pace. Retinoids also stimulate production of collagen and elastin, and inhibit the breakdown of existing collagen. This thickens the top layer of the skin with fresh cells that are better at keeping your skin plump. Through these processes, retinoid is able to:

  • Minimize wrinkles and fine lines
  • Prevent and treat sun damage (hyperpigmentation and sunspots)
  • Fight acne
  • Improve skin tone and smoothness
  • Promote wound healing

Using Vitamin A for anti-aging is really quite remarkable for the skin. There is a reason the authors of this study stated, “Vitamin A and its derivatives, particularly retinol, are among the most effective substances delaying the process of aging.”

How Effective is Vitamin A for Anti-Aging When Consumed Through My Diet?

As mentioned above, vitamin A can come from both animal and plant sources. So if you’re eating a well-rounded diet, you should be getting adequate levels of vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for your body to function properly and optimally. It’s beneficial for your eyesight, immune system, reproductive system, and many organs.

Consuming vitamin A is important for your health, and should be a part of your diet (though not in excess!). However, no matter how many carrots you eat, it’s not likely to reverse the signs of aging you already have. To treat existing signs of aging, and as a preventative measure, you’ll need to apply vitamin A topically. Whether this is in the form of a prescription retinoid cream or an over-the-counter retinol serum will depend on your situation. 

I’ve Heard Some People Shouldn’t Use Retinol – Why?

Retinoids are powerful — which is great, but means they should be approached with caution. 

Retinoid comes in a range of strengths, so always use the lowest concentration at first to determine what your skin can handle and give it a chance to adjust before moving up to a stronger formulation.

Here are a few words of warning:

  • Retinoids can make your skin worse before it gets better. At first, they may dry out your skin and cause redness or flakiness. If you have sensitive skin or suffer from rosacea, you may want to avoid topical retinoids altogether.
  • Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive to UV damage. For this reason, it’s imperative to use sunscreen with retinoids. If you already struggle with consistently and correctly using sunscreen daily, or if you regularly spend all day out in the sun, retinol can actually make your skin age faster.
  • Retinoids should be avoided by those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to conceive. Vitamin A taken by mouth can cause serious birth defects, so experts recommend to also avoid topical use out of an abundance of caution.

Vitamin A for Anti-Aging — It Isn’t the Only Answer!

Retinoids are a key component of youthful-looking skin, but it’s just one part of the equation. And even then, it may not be the best option for everybody. If you want personalized, targeted results for fine lines and aging skin, come by and see us at Hawaii Blue today. As an award-winning Hampton Roads med spa, we are dedicated to providing the best service possible. Book a consultation today at our Newport News clinic!