Topical Vitamin A

In my last post I mentioned the reasons why we ought to re-look at topical application of Vitamins.

Keeping in tune with that the next series of posts will all be dedicated to super Vitamins and how they can help our skin. The first of this series is the post below on Vitamin A.
Do let me know your thoughts..

  • It improves the look and feel of sun-damaged and aging skin (photo-aging skin).
  • Successfully used for the treatment of cystic and persistent acne
  • To reduce pore size and
  • Decrease oiliness.

  • The production of collagen, the protein fiber that plumps skin from the inside out and prevents sagging, tends to slow as we age. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can damage and degrade collagen as well. This results in skin that is loose and lacks firmness.
  • Retinoids are synthetic derivatives of vitamin A, for eg. Tretinoin, available by prescription only, that can help improve skin's appearance by driving the regeneration (and stopping the breakdown) of collagen. However they are most effective in reversing sun-damage.
  • Retiniods also increase the rate at which skin cells are
    Chemical structure of retinol (vitamin A).Image via Wikipedia
    exfoliated. This is what makes it so effective in treating acne as it quickly destroys dead cells that are blocking pores leading to blackheads, whiteheads & acne. Topical tretinoin decreases cohesiveness of follicular epithelial cells thereby decreasing comedone formation. Tretinoin also increases the turnover rate of thin, loosely-adherent corneocytes (skin cells). This causes extrusion of the comedones (the purge).
  • Retiniods have also shown to be effective in reducing pore-size. People with oily skin or acne tend to have large pores, not because of the oily skin but because dead skin cells block the pores enlarging them. Retiniods are able to degrade these dead cells as they have high penetrative power and help the pores shrink back to the normal size. Also when blocked pores tend to produce more oil making the face oily, this cleaning of the pores helps reduce oiliness.
  • Retinoids also can lighten freckles and dark spots associated with aging and sun da
    SKINImage by aJ GAZMEN ツ GucciBeaR via Flickr
  • Retinoids' milder cousin retinol is pure vitamin A, available in over-the-counter formulations. Though far less research has been done on retinols, one unpublished industry-sponsored study using a 0.15 percent retinol formula for three months showed 50 percent improvement in surface texture, 30 percent improvement in lines and wrinkles, and 35 percent reduction in brown spots.
The downside: Such a high concentration of retinol is usually found only in products sold exclusively in dermatologists' offices.


Prescription retinoids have been found to effectively de-age skin within four to eight weeks. Initially, all forms of vitamin A can be very irritating, causing redness, scaling, intense dryness, sensitivity and flaking that can last for two weeks or longer. Because retinoids are stronger than retinols, they're more likely to cause irritation.

There may also be an initial increase in the amount of acne. This is known as the "purge" where the retinoid forces closed comodones to surface, resulting in an increase in acne for about 2 to 4 weeks.
To avoid these side effects, dermatologists often advise that retinoids be used sparingly, with a good moisturizer, every other night or even every third night. (Because retinoids are degraded by sunlight, they should always be used at night.)
For those who can't tolerate the irritation, or who prefer to use an OTC form of vitamin A, retinol--the kinder, gentler member of the "A" team--may be the answer.


The most frequently used topical retinoids are tretinoin (brand name:
Renova), tazarotene and adapalene; they require a prescription
, so you'll need to see your dermatologist to get them. If you're looking for retinol, try one of these over-the-counter products:
  • Neutrogena Advanced Solutions Nightly Renewal Cream which was clinically tested and found to improve the look of under-eye wrinkles after four w
    Carrots can be selectively bred to produce dif...Image via Wikipedia
    eeks of use and to reduce the appearance of lines on the forehead after one week.
  • Vichy’s Reti C,
  • Pond’s Age Miracle range
  • Aroma Magic under-eye cream - available at NBC, Khar
  • H2O+ eye mender (availble at Health & Glow stores) - a tad expensive,
  • The Body Shop almond oil cuticle serum - visit The Body Shop store at Inorbit, Malad
Use products enriched with Carrot Oil, Avocado Oil, Rosehip seed oil, Sesame Oil and Shea Butter as these are naturally rich in Vitamin A.

DIY Tips:

  • Consider buying a small vial of carrot oil/avocado oil or rosehip oil and massage in into your skin at night before sleeping along with your moisturiser/night cream.
  • Incorporate boiled carrots, cantaloupe (musk melon), mangoes and papaya into your home-made facepacks.
  • Though they've never been scientifically shown to make skin more sun-sensitive, retinoids should always be used in conjunction with a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains an SPF of at least 30.
  • Tretinoin & other retinoids should be used only under a doctor's supervision
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