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Vitamin A: New Applications and Outcomes

By: Sam Dhatt
Posted: March 29, 2013, from the April 2013 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
Vitamin A continues to evolve, helping it remain one of the most potent ingredients in a skin care professional's arsenal.

Vitamin A continues to evolve, helping it remain one of the most potent ingredients in a skin care professional's arsenal.

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Combining retinoids with UV filters may also help mitigate irritation. A Brazilian study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics in 2007 found evidence suggesting that photostable UV filters—in this case, octyl methoxycinnamate, benzophenone-3 and octocrylene—might help reduce skin irritation associated with a combination of vitamins A, C and E. They also concluded that the photostable UV filters combination yielded the highest recovery of vitamin A compared to a photo-unstable formula.7

Also, dermal needling has become a popular treatment in recent years. Using approximately 200–250 fine surgical steel needles, a roller mechanism is applied directly to the skin in a repetitive crisscross motion. It creates microchannels in the skin that encourage up to 80% product absorption. It also induces a controlled wound that triggers a slow wound-healing response in the skin and promotes desired scarless collagen to replace damaged collagen. Dermal needling yields complete preservation of the melanocyte cell and helps to regulate the melanogenesis promoting an even skin tone. It also triggers growth factors within the client’s kertinocytes, which encourages healthy cell-to-cell communication. (Editor’s note: Dermal needling may not be within your scope of practice. Contact your state board and obtain the necessary training before adding this treatment to your menu. Log on to for complete contact information for your state’s board.)

Coupling a dermal needling procedure and vitamin A (retinol 4%) serves as an impressive anti-aging treatment. Retinol encourages epidermal thickness and inhibits metalloproteinase (MMP), which is an enzyme that degrades collagen. Pairing the two refines skin texture and tone, reduces fine lines and increases cellular turnover. (See Treatment How-to: Retinol Facial with Dermal Needling.)

Beyond acne and aging

Although retinoids have been used traditionally to treat acne and aging, researchers are now finding new applications for vitamin A derivatives. A 2006 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology found that a retinol-based cream coupled with intense pulsed light may help improve cellulite by enhancing collagen and improving smoothness in the affected areas with minimal side effects.8

Retinoids may also help treat skin cancer. A recent study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology that analyzed melanoma risk among nearly 70,000 people found that vitamin A supplement-users were approximately 40% less likely to develop melanoma than the nonsupplement users.9 The news is particularly encouraging for those at high risk for melanoma, such as fair-skinned individuals with a history of sunburn and numerous moles.

The Skin Care Ingredient Handbook is so much more than an ingredient dictionary. You will learn about cellular functions and skin aging; skin care trends for ethnic skin, scalp and hair products, BB creams, suncreens; active versus functional ingredients, natural, organic, and synthetic ingredients; OTC drugs; INCI names, antioxidants and DNA and how to read labels. Did we mention the newest ingredients are listed?

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