CHeat Sheet - Vitamin A

 What is it?

  • Widely considered as the gold standard in skincare, retinoids, such as retinol, are derivatives of vitamin A – a key nutrient needed in order for our skin cells to function properly.
  • ‘Retinoid’ is an umbrella term used for the various forms found in over-the-counter and prescription skincare.

Types of vitamin A:

  • The pure form of vitamin A (retinoic acid) is the only form that can be used by the skin to produce a physical effect. In topical skincare, retinoic acid can be found as tretinoin. To deliver results, once applied, all other forms of vitamin A need to be converted by the skin into retinoic acid.
  • The more conversion steps a retinoid needs, the weaker it becomes. It will still work; it’ll just take longer. Retinoids that require fewer conversion steps (e.g. retinal) can offer quicker results.
  • There are a number of different forms of vitamin A used in skincare. The most common, by order of strength, are:
    1. Retinoic acid (aka tretinoin)
    2. Retinal (retinaldehyde)
    3. Hydroxypinacolone retinoate/HPR (aka granactive retinoid)*
    4. Retinol
    5. Retinyl palmitate

* HPR is a retinoic acid ester – it is directly related to retinoic acid and therefore does not need to convert. It can be used in higher percentages as it is gentler on the skin.

What does it do?

  • Increases skin cell renewal (the rate at which new skin reaches the top layer) and helps stimulate key processes such as collagen and elastin production.

How does it benefit the skin?

Almost everyone can benefit from adding a retinoid to their skincare routine due to its ability to address numerous concerns:

  • Prevents premature ageing by slowing the breakdown of collagen
  • Minimises the appearance of lines and wrinkles
  • Improves firmness and elasticity of the skin
  • Regulates oil production and skin cell turnover, helping to unclog pores and reduce acne
  • Smooths skin texture
  • Fades hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone
  • Repairs sun-damaged skin

Where can you find it? 

  • You will usually find vitamin A in serum or oil form, but you can also find it in eye creams, exfoliants and moisturisers. A serum is your best choice for the most efficacious results.

Who needs it?

  • Those looking to target signs of ageing – particularly fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation – and anyone experiencing stubborn breakouts/acne.
  • Retinoids are fine to use if you are breastfeeding. While the industry is confident that over-the-counter retinoids are also safe to use while pregnant, the general medical consensus is, if in doubt, avoid them until after your baby has arrived.


Want to try vitamin A? Shop our Retinoids here

Looking to learn more? Find out how to use retinoids, this way.

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