Vitamin A – a chemical compound and an essential nutrient – has a vast range of functions.
Not only is it essential in supporting our overall growth and development, vision, immune system and reproductive system; it plays a hugely important role in maintaining our SKIN.
Vitamin A is composed of two parts: Retinoids and Carotenoids. For the purpose of this post – I will be focussing on the Retinoid compound of Vitamin A.
To simplify, Retinol and Retinoid Acid (which you may well have heard of!) all fall under the umbrella of ‘Retinoids.’
Retinol (and Retinoic Acid) are important in cell production (shiny new skin cells!) and cell growth. We know that Vitamin A plays a huge part in stimulating the cells deep in the layers of our skin, which ensure our skin remains firm and healthy. By maintaining the Vitamin A level in our skin, we can expect positive changes such as:
- promotion of skins natural moisturising factors (leading to the ‘glowing’ effect we all strive for!)
- strengthening to the skins outer layer (to ensure if stays looking firm and smooth)
- support of the skins immune system (helping to prevent the number of breakouts).
- diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles.
- significantly improve uneven skin tone/ pigmentation.
A Vitamin A deficiency can lead to skin complaints such as: pigmentation abnormalities, sun damage, premature signs of ageing, and excessive dryness.
Vitamin A in the diet
So by now, we have established why it’s so important to ensure we are including Vitamin A not only into our diet – but also into our skincare routine.
It is uncommon for those who already have a relatively healthy diet, to be deficient in Vitamin A; as often it is an added extra in fortified products such as cereal and milk.
Good sources of Vitamin A are also included in fish and dairy products (if these form a part of your diet) as well as being included in many multivitamin supplements. Check it out, to see if you are getting your recommended daily amount of Vitamin A?
Now, for the good stuff. Vitamin A for your skin.
All hail, Retinol. A quick internet search is offering me topical Retinol in 0.5%, 1% and 2% concentrations. I can buy it as a serum, an eye cream, or a moisturiser. There is webpage after webpage telling me why Retinol & Vitamin A are the ONLY product we shouldn’t be without. Where to start, you might ask?
I’m pleased to see that most of the products come with a cautionary warning. For those new to using Retinol products; tolerance must be built up slowly and steadily, using only a pea-sized amount of product – twice a week initially. The reason: Retinol can cause redness, dryness and often some mild peeling/flaking. This means that Retinol should be used in conjunction with other products, to support your skin across all layers.Further to this, Retinol can increase photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight). This means that anyone using Retinol products, without a high (30+), broad spectrum SPF are hugely increasing the risk of further skin complaints such as hyperpigmentation, and ultimately increasing their risk of skin damage. Retinol without SPF = NO.It is also worth noting that anyone suffering with sensitive skin, or an ongoing skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea or psoriasis have an increased need to carefully consider the type of products they are using on their skin – so as not to cause further sensitivity.
To me, this is why I believe that anyone who is commencing with a Retinol product should first consult a skincare professional. In short, it’s a minefield. 100’s of products to choose from (of all prices) – some labelled as over the counter, some labelled as Cosmeceuticals. And every percentage you could ever imagine, available to buy.
While, yes, the active ingredient is still Retinol, it must also be considered what other ingredients the product includes. Are these right for you skin? Will they benefit your skin? Will they cause further irritation?
The key point is; anyone looking to integrate this (albeit wonderful) ingredient/ product into their skincare routine, must do so with professional support, advice and monitoring to ensure that results are achieved and maintained in the safest way.
There are many people who already do, and many who can, benefit from introducing Retinol to their skin. But please, see a professional. Please don’t begin (or continue) buying Retinol from unknown sources. There are many circumstances under which Retinol should simply not be used. Are you fully aware of these?
If you would like to book a consultation / skin assessment with Clinic Director Beth, to discuss your own personal skincare routine,
please get in touch with us in the most convenient way for you.