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Article: What is Vitamin A? And why is it used in skin care?

Vad är vitamin A? Och varför används det i hudvård?

What is Vitamin A? And why is it used in skin care?

Retinoids are the name of the group of pharmacological substances that have a biological vitamin A activity. The group consists of natural forms of so-called derivatives of vitamin A, as well as synthetic/artificial derivatives. Over 2,000 different derivatives of vitamin A have been produced to date.

The different types of vitamin A

In practice, the word vitamin A covers several different chemical structures with slightly different effects and strengths on the skin. The natural forms of vitamin A consist of retinol (vitamin A alcohol) and the derivatives of retinol. Derivatives are substances that can be formed from retinol, but which can also be converted into retinol. The natural derivatives of vitamin A are:

  • Retinal (vitamin A aldehyde)
  • Retinoic acid (vitamin A acid)
  • Vitamin A esters (such as retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate and retinyl acetate

The use of vitamin A in skin care and side effects

It is now well known that cream formulations of vitamin A, through various mechanisms, are effective in the treatment of several skin diseases such as acne/pimples/blackheads, psoriasis, ichthyosis and actinic keratoses. In addition, vitamin A has shown a robust effect in the treatment of photodamaged/premature skin aging. There are well-documented effects in both the epidermis and dermis with increased thickness of the epidermis and new formation of blood vessels and collagen in the dermis. This reduces fine lines, wrinkles, pigment damage and improves the skin's surface.

However, there are two very important side effects with the potent forms of vitamin A that limit their use:

Side effects in the skin that cause skin irritation with inflammation/inflammation, soreness, redness, scaling and increased UV sensitivity, which in turn leads to an increased risk of UV damage. The side effects in the skin often persist for a long time, even when the dose is reduced.

Teratogenicity (harm to the fetus) if vitamin A is used as prescription tablets by pregnant women. No association has been found between the use of vitamin A in cream formulations in pregnant women and birth defects. Nevertheless, pregnant women are advised not to use vitamin A in cream as a precautionary principle.

Skin irritation when using vitamin A in skin products

The skin irritation seen when vitamin A is used in skin products is called "retinoid reaction". This is because several of the vitamin a derivatives contain an organic acid group (carboxyl group). The retinoid reaction usually occurs within the first few weeks, often the first week, of use. The degree of skin irritation depends on which vitamin A derivative is used. Skin irritation decreases in some people over time, especially when the dose is reduced, but may persist throughout the treatment period. The acid group that causes the reaction causes an inflammatory reaction in the skin with the release of inflammation-related signaling substances (inflammatory cytokines). The inflammatory reaction causes redness, dry skin, burning sensation, scaling, impaired barrier function and increased fluid loss. In isolation, the inflammatory response also increases oxidative stress in the skin, although some retinoids may have an antioxidant effect. There is also increased photo/UV sensitivity in the skin, and UV protection is recommended.

What type of vitamin A should be used?

Ideally, you want a good effect, without a retinoid reaction.

We know that retinoic acid (a-vitamin acid) is the most potent form of vitamin a and is the one that exerts the greatest biological activity in the skin. Retinoic acid is actually a hormone and works by binding to DNA in cells. This regulates how the cells, and thus the skin, should behave. Retinoic acid is not permitted in cosmetic products and is defined as a drug. Retinoic acid is also very irritating to the skin, and in most people the side effects would have outweighed the benefits of its use. Cosmetic products therefore often use precursors/derivatives that are converted to retinoic acid in the skin, which have less effect, but are also less irritating.

Retinol is often used in cosmetic products and is converted by enzymes in the skin to retinal, which in turn can be converted to retinoic acid. Retinol still causes significant skin irritation in many people. In addition, retinol is very unstable and is inactivated by light and air, and mixed with other ingredients the effect can be unpredictable.

Retinyl esters, such as retinyl propiate and retinyl palmitate, are stable vitamin A derivatives, which produce little retinoid reaction. Retinyl esters are converted by enzymes into retinol, which in turn can be further converted into active retinoic acid in the skin. Retinyl esters are weaker retinoids than retinol, but with significantly less skin irritation. In fact, retinyl palmitate is said to be non-irritating, although topical use of retinyl palmitate has been documented to increase retinol concentration in the skin

Why we have chosen retinyl palmitate in SUPERFOOD multipurpose vitamin face gel

Our skin care range consists of few and effective products with many active ingredients in each product. SUPERFOOD multipurpose vitamin face gel contains, among other things, retinyl palmitate, high dose niacinamide and high dose dexpanthenol, which are known to reduce inflammation in the skin. Retinyl palmitate is a retinoid in the retinyl ester group that makes up more than 70% of the vitamin A types found in human skin. When applied topically to the skin, the body's natural enzymes convert retinyl palmitate into retinol and then into other active forms of vitamin A. This retinoid then becomes a powerful anti-aging ingredient that helps reduce wrinkles by promoting the growth of new skin cells. The combination of vitamins and antioxidants in SUPERFOOD is composed so that you as a consumer can achieve visible anti-aging results, and that without downtime. Used as the only skin care product for 8 weeks gets 10 out of 10:

  • reduced wrinkles
  • improved elasticity
  • improved skin density

SUPERFOOD, like all our products, can be used by all skin types and skin conditions, and it can be used all year round.

Dr Ankerstjerne is skin care developed for Scandinavian conditions, produced by the Norwegian medical couple Stine and Andre Ankerstjerne. With their medical background, the couple has created a cosmetic line consisting of few but highly effective products that deliver on their promises. In the series you will find facial cleanser, day cream, night cream, anti-wrinkle cream and serum. Read more about the series here on the website and in our skincare blog.

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