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How to Safely Use Vitamin A for Skin

Tips and precautions for using retinol and vitamin A

Written by: 100% PURE ®
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If we could dive into the Fountain of Youth, we imagine it would have many off-the-chart beauty benefits. But until we get our VIP access to that mythical fountain, we’ll thank our lucky stars for ingredients that offer youth-boosting benefits. Vitamin A is at the top of that gratitude list!

As with any great beauty accessory, there are a few precautions that come with the territory. We’re covering all you need to know on the benefits of vitamin A, who should – and should not – use vitamin A for skin, and how to safely use this vitamin for a radiant, more youthful looking complexion.


What Are the Benefits of Retinol?

By now, you’re probably familiar with skin care’s A-lister, vitamin A – commonly employed as “retinol” in skin care formulas. This skin care ingredient shows up everywhere, from acne creams to wrinkle fighters – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for everyone.

Touted as an anti-aging wonder, retinol is a derivative of antioxidant-rich vitamin A. It belongs to a family called retinoids, along with a bunch of other vitamin-A derivatives starting with the letter “R”, like retinyl palmitate.

According to experts at Healthline, “Skin is a retinoid-responsive organ, able to readily absorb vitamin A when applied topically.” That suggests that using vitamin A derivatives in your beauty routine can have real benefits for your skin.

Using vitamin A for skin can help to unclog pores, counter free radical damage, stimulate collagen and elastin production, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and balance and tone the complexion for a more youthful, smoother complexion. Whew! In a nutshell, vitamin A encourages skin cell regeneration and cellular turnover.

You’ll recognize this ingredient as the star in our Multi-Vitamin PM Serum, Retinol PM Eye Cream, and Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm.


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Who Shouldn’t Use Retinol or Vitamin A?

We know that vitamin A is extremely beneficial for a multitude of skin-loving reasons. As a veritable wonder ingredient, it’s suitable for many skin types to combat symptoms like acne and psoriasis. But as with the majority of our beauty products, there are effective ways to use vitamin A for skin and things to avoid.

Getting your beauty sleep is par for the course with retinoids, as they’re known to be more effective when used at night. Some are formulated with nourishing ingredients to help minimize potential skin irritation. However, adverse side effects – dryness, flaking, peeling – can still occur. This is especially true if you have sensitive skin or are a retinol rookie. So, you’ll need to start slow and exercise some caution.

Wearing vitamin A while you’re catching some Z’s is also when the wonder ingredient is safest. When exposed to sunlight, retinol can thin the skin’s protective barrier and cause photosensitivity, meaning burns and irritation. Sitting near windows or under artificial light also exposes skin to UV rays, so make it a rule to wear broad-spectrum SPF following any retinol treatment.


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What to Expect from Vitamin A When You’re Expecting

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, do not use retinol or vitamin A. While there’s been little research into its topical use and the amounts deemed safe when you’re expecting or nursing, it’s best to avoid using it altogether. If you’re looking to mitigate pregnancy acne or melasma, you should discuss alternative skin care options with your doctor.

When it comes to dietary supplementation early in pregnancy, it’s important to have vitamin A in your diet. There have been studies where it’s not only important for your baby’s growth, but also in delivery. The average American diet provides plenty of vitamin A; it's available in meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and fortified cereals in the form of preformed vitamin A. It's also in most fruits and vegetables, in the form of carotenoids like beta carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes) and lycopene (tomatoes, cabbage, papaya).

Getting an adequate amount of vitamin A during pregnancy is beneficial. But it's very important not to get too much preformed vitamin A, which has been linked to birth defects and liver toxicity in high doses. Talk to your doctor about getting the right supplementation for your pregnancy!

While we love vitamin A for skin and all things retinol, we love safe and health skin even more. Which is why we can’t stress enough the importance of applying at least an SPF 30 while using vitamin A and retinoids before going outdoors! We have an amazing selection of natural sunscreens that are as nourishing as they are effective for protecting your precious skin.


The information in this article is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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