The 4 Different Forms of Vitamin A and What They Do to the Skin

I cannot stress this enough: Vitamin A is an essential component of a comprehensive skincare regimen.

Incorporating a vitamin A serum into your skincare routine is crucial for achieving the benefits, from tackling premature skin ageing, dark spots and pigmentation to fighting acne. Even integrating a vitamin A-enriched moisturiser can contribute significantly to the overall health and rejuvenation of your skin.

By understanding and leveraging the potential of vitamin A, you can effectively address your specific skin concerns and maintain a youthful complexion all year round.


The importance of Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in several forms, each with unique properties.

2. Vitamin A belongs to a family of organic chemicals called Retinoids. Retinoids occur naturally in the human body and are closely linked to the chemistry of vision in the retina of the eye.

3. Vitamin A is the most important molecule for healthy-looking skin.


Woman applying Vitamin A serum


4. Everybody, everywhere, is exposed to UV light. This exposure damages the vitamin A naturally found in the skin.

5. The more vitamin A the skin has, the more protected the skin will be against sun damage.

6. While taking vitamin A supplements may help to replenish the Vitamin A skin has lost, it is not nearly as effective as topical application straight onto the skin.

7. This essential nutrient need to be replaced daily to promote healthy-looking skin and minimise the signs of photoaging.


The different forms of vitamin A in skincare

1. Retinol

Retinol is the gold standard form of vitamin A in skincare. It is derived from animal sources and is known for its powerful anti-ageing properties.

When applied topically, retinol promotes collagen production, accelerates cell turnover, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. It also helps to improve skin texture, minimise pore size, and even out skin tone.


2. Retinyl Palmitate

Retinyl palmitate is a milder form of vitamin A. It is often used in over-the-counter skincare products due to its stability and gentle nature.

Although it is less potent than retinol, retinyl palmitate still provides notable benefits such as improving skin elasticity, enhancing moisture retention, and promoting a smoother complexion.


3. Retinaldehyde

Retinaldehyde is a direct precursor to retinoic acid, the active form of vitamin A.

It is highly effective in stimulating collagen production and reducing the appearance of wrinkles and pigmentation.

With its gentle yet powerful actions, retinaldehyde is suitable for sensitive skins who may experience irritation from other forms of vitamin A. This is one of my personal favourite forms of Vitamin A for that reason.


4. Retinoic Acid

Retinoic acid, also known as tretinoin or all-trans retinoic acid, is the most potent form of vitamin A.

It is available ONLY as a prescription medication and is commonly used to treat severe acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions.

Retinoic acid works by normalising cell turnover, reducing inflammation, and unclogging pores, resulting in clearer and healthier skin.


As Dr. Des Fernandes, founder of Environ has pointed out: "Vitamin A is the greatest deficiency in the world. Most people are unaware that they suffer from a chronic, localised deficiency of Vitamin A. As vitamin A is light sensitive it is destroyed every day in our skin and that is the main reason why we develop photoaging. You could say that the skin is constantly in need of Vitamin A"

Two models holding Youth EssentiaA  and Skin EssentiA

How vitamin A rebuilds skin health

1. Stimulates collagen production - Vitamin A promotes the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining skin elasticity and firmness. By stimulating collagen synthesis, it helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin, giving your complexion a more youthful and plump appearance.

2. Accelerates Cell Turnover - Vitamin A speeds up the process of cellular turnover, allowing new, healthy skin cells to replace older, damaged ones more quickly. This helps to improve skin texture, minimise acne scarring, and fade hyperpigmentation, resulting in a smoother and more even-toned complexion.

3. Enhances skin barrier function - Vitamin A strengthens the skin's protective barrier, which is crucial for maintaining optimal hydration and preventing moisture loss. A healthy skin barrier helps to defend against environmental aggressors, such as pollutants and UV radiation and keeps your skin hydrated, supple, and resilient.

4. Regulates sebum production - For those struggling with acne-prone skin, vitamin A can be a game-changer. It regulates sebum production, preventing excess oil buildup that can lead to clogged pores and breakouts. By keeping your skin's oil balance in check, vitamin A helps to reduce acne and promote a clearer complexion.

5. Promotes the natural moisturising factors - Promotes a healthy barrier function leaving the skin looking hydrated and refreshed.

6. Helps support skin immunity - Supports the immune function of the skin by potentiating the Langerhans cells to help maintain healthier-looking skin.

7. Promotes a healthy dermis and epidermis - vitamin A is essential for all the layers of the skin and helps to promote healthy-looking skin.


8. Known as the skin normalising vitamin - Forms the basis of normal, healthy and well-functioning skin.

Here are my Vitamin A top product choices

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Top Retinyl Palmitate pick

Environ Skin EssentiA Vita-Antioxidant AVST Moisturiser is formulated with high levels of Vitamin A, C and antioxidants to rebalance and moisturise the skin. The unique emulsion is also enriched with peptides that soften the appearance of fine lines.

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Top Retinol pick

Retinol Brulee is a refining Vitamin A night serum that can have a profound impact on just about every conceivable sign of ageing that you care to mention and continue to deliver the results you want day after day, week after week, month after month. Right to the very last drop.



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Top Retinaldehyde pick

This next-generation, rare form of Vitamin A acts up to 11 times faster than classic retinol at providing remarkable anti-ageing, radiance-boosting and skin-smoothing benefits to the skin. Crystal Retinal enables your skin to always peak and never plateau.


Formulated with 0.01% stabilised retinal, this ground-breaking overnight serum visibly minimises fine lines and wrinkles; firming and plumping the complexion to resurface skin texture and soften the face.

About The Author:

I am Sari, a qualified Skin Therapist here at Skinmart. I have been in the skincare industry for over 15 years. I have a holistic approach to skin and my passion lies in ‘Health’. My philosophy is if we are healthy on the inside, then it shows our vitality on the outside.
I have furthered my knowledge with courses in Skin Anatomy, Advanced Skin Concerns, Advanced Skin Needling and Fitness.
My emphasis is on guiding my clients through their journey of skin concerns and conditions. I like to educate my clients and find the potential triggers for their skin concerns or condition so that together we can eliminate the root of the cause. I aim to give personalised consultations with treatment and correct prescribed skin products.

Reference: Beautiful Science Environ

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