WTF is Retinaldehyde and why should I care?

If you are interested in keeping your skin looking youthful and plump and you aren’t using vitamin A, you are missing the boat, or the cruise ship, really.

Vitamin A is the top anti-aging ingredient to look for in your skincare products.  It can help to thicken the dermis layer of the skin (the layer just under the paper thin top layer of skin called the epidermis) which helps aging skin to act and feel younger, and it can help control acne by exfoliating and speeding up or normalizing cell turnover. Vitamin A also increases ridges in the skin that help anchor the epidermis (the thin layer) to the demis (the thick layer).  This means less sagging because the skin is able to “hold on” to its foundation.

Retinaldehyde is the version of vitamin A closest to what the body actually uses, so it is less irritating than prescription strength Retin A.  People often have a hard time acclimating to Retin A (which is technically “retinoic acid- the exact form the body uses)  because the body doesn’t have a”choice” as to how much it would like to convert.  It’s forced to use/absorb whatever is put on the skin, and this leads to inflammation, irritation and sensitization.

Ideally, we like to see a form of vitamin A that is easy for the body to convert to retinoic acid near the top of the list on the ingredient deck of our products.  Where the active ingredients fall on the ingredient deck indicates how much of the ingredient is in the product.  If the active ingredients are at the top of the list, there is more of that ingredient than in the subsequent ingredients on the list.

Sometimes, having too much of an ingredient like vitamin A might cause irritation, so vitamin a specifically doesn’t have to be too high on the list, but it does also depend on what form of vitamin A you are using.  If it’s a less potent form, it would make sense to have more of it in the product.  Additionally, it’s good to know that sometimes an ingredient isn’t more active when there is more of it in a product.  For instance, some peptides aren’t effective in larger doses, so it isn’t necessary to have a ton of it in your product.  The skincare formulators generally know and have a good reason for creating the “recipe” they’ve created, but we can still get a good idea about how effective the product is by seeing where certain ingredients fall on the list.

Typically, vitamin A is used at night, not during the day.  It helps to repair the skin but isn’t great when combined with sun exposure.  Some companies say their retinaldehyde products can be used day and night, but daytime is a great time to use antioxidants and sun protection.  Osmosis makes a few different retinaldehyde with the retinaldehyde in three different concentration, which makes it easy to find the right level of A for your skin.  And don’t forget, always use a good sunscreen when you are using Vitamin A (and acids like glycolic and salicylic). ❤

 

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