Why is Vitamin A such a popular skincare ingredient?
Vitamin A is used as a very effective treatment of a range of skin conditions, including acne vulgaris, psoriasis and photoaging. The introduction of vitamin A as a topical skin cream has numerous benefits and lasting effects. Its effectiveness on skin conditions and aging are obvious. Vitamin A in its various forms have been included in numerous creams and serums all alleging to fight fine lines and wrinkles. The inclusion of vitamin A in a skin care regime will have long lasting, positive effects on skin.
Vitamin A for Acne
Acne vulgaris affects the dermis layer, specifically the hair follicles associated with the sebaceous gland. Applying a retinoid encourages the production and variation of keratinocytes (an epidermal cell which produces keratin). This in turn increases the production and secretion of thyroid hormones (follicular epithelial), hastening the shedding and expulsion of comedones, or pimples. When treated with topical vitamin A the turnover, shedding and expulsion of affected cells is accelerated and reduces the number of inflamed hair follicles. The retinoid employed in the treatment of acne vulgaris requires a doctor’s prescription, as it is vitamin A in its most pure form, retinoic acid, ready to be accepted by the cells. In a study of 268 male and female 13-30 years who experienced mild-moderate acne, vitamin A significantly reduced lesion counts by up to 55%. The medicinal benefits of topical vitamin A are very clear.
The different forms of Vitamin A
Vitamin A undertakes a multistep transformation process within the body, before it can be absorbed by the body’s cells, regardless of whether vitamin A is taken orally or as a topical cream. Vitamin A begins as retinyl palmitate, then retinol, then retinaldehyde and finally retinoic acid. Retinoic acid is the final and only form of vitamin A which can be absorbed by the body’s cells. It is through its ability to regulate cell behaviour that its value as a skin care cream is apparent.
The vitamin A found in topical formations, gels or creams, uses the term ‘retinoids’ to refer to the various compounds derived from vitamin A. Skin is particularly responsive to retinoids, with the cells in both the epidermis, (the outer, visible layer of skin) and the dermis (the ‘underlayer’ of skin) containing proteins and receptors which enable vitamin A to be absorbed by the skin. Vitamin A when applied directly to the skin is very effective in the treatment of numerous skin conditions. As a retinoid, it is only a two-step process before the body will accept it. Therefore, maintaining its potency and effectiveness.
Vitamin A and antiageing
Vitamin A is absorbed by the skin’s dermis, connected to the blood and lymph systems and where the sweat and sebaceous glands, hair follicles and muscles cells are found. As it is absorbed by the dermis, vitamin A signals directly to the cells to shed dead skin cells and grow new ones at a faster rate, thereby encouraging the promotion of fresher, more youthful skin. It is vitamin A’s ability to communicate with the body’s cells that is prized in the medical treatment of certain skin conditions. Vitamin A also has an important role to play in the health and cosmetic maintenance of skin. The effectiveness of vitamin A on photoaged and naturally aged skin can be visible after just seven days of application. Photoaging is the premature aging of skin due to ultraviolet light (UV), whether it be from the sun or in artificial forms, such as tanning salons. Photoaging presents on the skin as spider veins, pigmented spots (such as freckles, age or liver spots) winkles, or red, rough scaly patches. Vitamin A builds upon the collagen fibres within the dermis, promotes hyaluronic acid and inhibits the production of enzymes that damage collagen and elastin. Thereby, vitamin A when applied topically to photoaged or aged skin assists in the restoration of skin elasticity, subsequently reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin A side effects
Vitamin A as a topical skin treatment is not without controversy and some side effects. The controversy stems from media misrepresentation of a study’s finding which falsely reported that sunscreen containing retinoids were carcinogens. “…based on the current available data from invitro, animal and human studies, there is no convincing evidence to support the notion that retinyl palmitate in sunscreens causes cancers” (Chapman, 2014). Nevertheless, the use of vitamin A as a topical skin cream does have some undesirable side effects, especially if using it in its retinoic acid form. As it is acidic, vitamin A, in this form, can cause reddening, dryness and pruritic or itching, this is due to the disruption of cells in the skin. Nevertheless, the benefits of vitamin A for skin conditions are well proven, yet it is advisable to consult with a professional before using topical vitamin A cream.
The effectiveness and versatility of vitamin A as a topical cream for medicinal and cosmetic purposes has been a breakthrough, especially for sufferers of acne vulgaris. Countless studies have shown how effective vitamin A is on a myriad of skin and conditions. Vitamin A is a potent topical skin cream which relieves acne, reduces fine lines and wrinkles and promotes more youthful skin