Promises, promises – sometimes it seems that’s all skincare delivers. A lifted this, a smoother that, a lighter wallet.
But no matter the brand and whatever the claims, there are ingredients that are unequivocally beneficial for the skin.
Vitamin A is one of them.
Sydney dermatologist, Dr Stephen Shumack, says it was originally used in the 70s and 80s as an acne treatment before its anti-ageing properties were explored.
“Everybody agrees that prescription Retin-A does do something in improving wrinkling and fine lines. It’s a bit of a reasonable assumption that other vitamin A compounds have similar activities,” he says.
Vitamin A derivatives retinol and retinyl palmitate are over-the-counter ingredients that also help improve the skin.
Chief scientific officer of Indeed Labs in Canada , Dr. Adel Rammal, believes that retinol is the “gold standard in skincare.”
“It’s a globally recognised active ingredient and is effective at reducing the appearance of fine line and wrinkles and increasing collagen in the skin which helps the elastin from being eroded,” he says.
“It helps skin radiance, improves the texture of skin, reduces dark spots and increased skin cell turnover.”
So far, so promising. But there is a catch.
“Retinol is the golden standard in skincare, but the side effects include itchiness, irritation and dry skin,” he says.
The key is finding the right formulation for your skin tone; if the percentage of active ingredients is too low it won’t work and if it’s too high it will cause side effects.
Dr Schumack says the newer retinol formulations are easier to use and less irritating than they used to be. The key is to start with a low percentage but there is “no hard, conclusive evidence that it will give you the same result as Retin-A.”
Apply it every second or third night and increase application as skin’s tolerance grows
Start with a low percentage of active ingredients and work your way up
If retinol is too irritating, switch to a product with retinyl palmitate
Pregnant women should avoid products with Vitamin A
This story first appeared in Shop Smart, The Sunday Telegraph, on Mar 2, 2014