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Retinol: Why Is It Not An Anti-Ageing Skincare Product Ingredient?

What is Retinol

Retinol is a member of vitamin A family that has been used as a skincare product ingredient for decades. Often added in the formula to soften the signs of ageing, Retinol is a well-studied substance. 

Vitamin A is required for the healthy functioning of eyes and skin. However, as a fat-soluble compound, it stays in the body for a much longer period than water-soluble compounds like vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin B. High doses of vitamin A over period of time, can cause negative impacts on the body including enlarged liver, dry skin and serious birth defects in pregnant women. 

The Best Sources of Retinol

Retinol is only found in animal sources particularly in beef liver, chicken liver and lamb liver.

Various fruits and vegetables such as carrot, spinach, sweet potatoes and pumpkin, contain beta-Carotene, a precursor of Retinol. Beta-carotene needs to be converted to Retinol before our body can use it as vitamin A. This process usually happens in small intestine.

Unlike Retinol, beta-Carotene doesn't usually have any negative impact on the body. It seems that the body converts beta-Carotene to Retinol (Vitamin A) only when there isn't enough vitamin A in the body.

Retinol in Skincare Products

Retinol has been used in the skincare products for many decades. Several studies suggested that Retinol can boost the collagen synthesis and cellular activity in the skin.

However, Retinol is highly unstable, particularly when it is exposed to light and air. Numerous studies showed that Retinol increases the phototoxicity of UV light. It is not suitable for day-time use. It increases skin vulnerability to UV-induced damage including the risk for skin cancer. It is highly recommended to use it at night only.

When using retinol skincare products at night, always wear a sun block with a very high SPF during the day to prevent skin damage and premature ageing.

Retinol (Vitamin A)

Why Retinol Is Not An Anti-Ageing?

First of all, there is no anti-ageing skincare product or ingredient or gadget. I have met many beauty experts, dermatologists and skincare formulators; like all of us, they couldn't stop the ageing effects on their body and skin.

Ageing is part of life that we have to embrace. In a way, it is a blessing to be given an opportunity to grow old. Nevertheless, I believe that good skincare products along with healthy diets, lifestyle and mind are the key to slow down the ageing process.

No matter how old or young you are, nothing looks better on you than healthy skin with a radiant glow.

The Botanical Alternative to Retinol Skincare Products

There isn't a botanical source for Retinol. However, many plants contain beta-Carotene, which is also known as pro-vitamin A.

In contrast to Retinol, beta-Carotene has photo-protective and anti-carcinogenic properties. Many studies showed that regular application or consumption of beta-Carotene is beneficial for the general health including skin health. It reduces the risk for UV-induced skin damage including skin cancer.

Rosehip Oil, The Safer and Gentler Alternative to Retinol

Rosehip oil is particularly rich in beta-Carotene, which gives its deep-orange colour. It also contains a small trace of All-Trans Retinoic Acid (also known as Tretinoin), the more potent form of vitamin A than Retinol.

As an experienced skincare formulator, I prefer to add Rosehip oil to a cream or lotion-based formula for day-time use. While for night-time use, it can be used at 100% concentration. However, I don't recommend Rosehip oil at full concentration for acne-prone skin, as it may cause skin breakouts. 

Rosehip oil is one of the key ingredients in 24k Gold & Rosehip Rejuvenating Cream. I usually mix a small amount of this velvety moisturiser with few drops of Blue Chamomile & Cacay Facial Oil to keep my skin supple, firm and well-hydrated throughout the day.

In summer, when my skin tends to be slightly oilier, I switch to Rose & Cacay Hydrating Serum Cream and add few drops of facial oil depending on the skin condition.

Rose & Cacay Hydrating Serum Cream has been formulated with Rose extract, Cacay oil and Saccharide Isomerate.

Rose extract is rich in antioxidant compounds that help protect skin against free radical damage and premature signs of ageing.

Cacay oil is one of my favourite ingredients. It is rich in Linoleic Acid, which plays a significant role in skin rejuvenation.

Saccharide Isomerate is a 100% skin-identical, botanical-derived complex that has been proven to help plump up the appearance of skin and provide a deeply-soothing and long-lasting hydration. A study suggested that Saccharide Isomerate boosts the Hyaluronic Acid synthesis in the skin. Therefore, it helps reduce the appearance of signs of ageing such as wrinkles, lines and sagging skin.

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Sources: Photodecomposition and Phototoxicity of Natural Retinoids, The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2005 May, 2(1): 147–155; Efficacy of beta-carotene topical application in melasma: an open clinical trial, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2002 Nov-Dec, 68(6): 320-2; Beta Carotene, Nutri-Facts (Understanding Vitamins & More); β-Carotene Conversion to Vitamin A Decreases As the Dietary Dose Increases in Humans, The Journal of Nutrition, 2010 May; 140(5): 915–918.


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