Retinoic Acid vs Retinol

March 13, 2017

Retinoids are not all created equally: Retinoic Acid vs Retinol our favourite skin doctor has the answers:

By Dr. Jen Newell Naturopathic Doctor

Do the active ingredients in your skin care actually have research supporting their use? I have recently been talking to patients about the value of research supported ingredients in their skincare. Many of my new patients initially come in unhappy with the results they are getting from their skincare products (even the natural ones) but don’t know what to look for to get the results they desire. Topical vitamin A is one of the most effective skincare ingredients to make your skin look smoother and younger, the key to success is choosing the right form.

Retinoids (a term for a variety of forms of topical vitamin A) help to stimulate the production of collagen, hyaluronic acid, and elastin; this helps to reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles and large pores. They also aid in healing acne and fading hyperpigmentation. There are a number of different types of Retinoids found in skin care products including Retinyl Palmitate, Retin-A, and Retinol, but the question is will they yield the anti-aging result?

Retinyl Palmitate is not a bio available Retinoid and I do not recommend it.

Retin-A is the acid form of Vitamin A (go figure, right?). Prescription retinoic acid is patented because it is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A. Retin-A can cause peeling, irritation, sensitivity, redness, discomfort and sun sensitivity in many people.

Retinol is the alcohol form of the vitamin A molecule, and is considered by many to be the purest and true form of Vitamin A. Retinol when used properly is not at all irritating or inflaming to the skin since the Retinol is slowly converted to retinoic acid. This is the form of vitamin A I recommend patients use for anti-aging purposes, to unclog pores, fight acne and fade hyperpigmentation from sun damage.

If using a retinol, I recommend finding a product that uses a Liposomal delivery system to ensure nutrients are absorbed into the skin. The liposomal nutrients are delivered directly to the skin by a lipid bi-layer similar to the body’s own cell membranes. These liposomes facilitate transport of nourishment into the skin. A liposome is essentially a tiny bubble made out of the same material as a cell membrane so they can deliver nutrients directly to the cells.

Natural products with Retinol include:

If you have questions, I would love to see you in clinic.

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

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