There is a lot of marketing hype about the ideal form of vitamin A to use on the skin. Some claim that only the acid form (retinoic acid) actually works whereas others state that retinol, the alcohol form is the most effective. Most companies pretend that the ester of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, is ineffective whereas physiologically, retinyl palmitate is the most important form of vitamin A for the skin because more than 80% of the vitamin A normally found in skin is as retinyl palmitate. Even when one applies retinol or retinoic acid to the skin, it is normally converted to retinyl palmitate and stored in the skin. Only a very small fraction of the vitamin A is found as retinol or retinoic acid. The truth is that vitamin A in all its forms e.g. palmitate, acetate, propionate, aldehyde, alcohol or acid all act as DNA regulators and produce the healthy skin, with good collagen and elastin production and better pigment control. Retinoic acid is not normally found outside the cell walls and that may explain why it tends to be irritant to skin. Retinyl palmitate is the least irritant version of vitamin A and for that reason may well be the most useful form because people will apply it more regularly if they get less dryness and irritation of the skin.
The topical replacement of light sensitive vitamins A, C, E and beta carotene is essential to maintain skin health.
Dr Des Fernandes
Founder of Environ