What is retinol?

The superhero ingredient of skincare

Retinol gets a lot of attention for its skin health benefits, including the increase in your skin’s natural cell turnover rate, removal of dead skin cells that clog pores and an increase in collagen production. With all of these amazing skin benefits, what is retinol exactly? 

Retinol is a member of the vitamin A family called retinoids, which your body requires for healthy bone growth and a strong immune system. While our bodies don’t naturally produce vitamin A, foods including sweet potatoes, carrots and dark leafy greens contain high amounts of vitamin A to help your body meet its minimum requirements. 

However, your skin is the last organ to get the vitamins you consume, so relying solely on diet won’t provide many vitamin A benefits to the skin. Topical application is the best way to reap the many anti-aging and healthy skin benefits that vitamin A has to offer. 

There are many different forms of vitamin A, all part of the retinoid family. These include retinol, retinaldehyde, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, and the active form, retinoic acid. When applied to the skin, vitamin A goes through a conversion process, eventually turning into retinoic acid that interacts with your skin directly. PCA SKIN® chooses to formulate with retinol because it is more stable than many other forms and has a shorter conversion in the skin than some other over-the-counter vitamin A options. The shorter conversion means that more of the retinol applied actually gets converted to retinoic acid, delivering the power of the ingredient. Longer conversion times reduce the amount of retinoic acid eventually created, resulting in less dramatic changes in the skin. 

Incorporating a nighttime retinol into your regimen, as many nights per week as you can tolerate, provides benefits that include not only a reduction in fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts and discolorations, but also an overall healthier, glowing complexion. Everyone can benefit from retinol use, as it helps enhance the penetration of other products in your regimen. Always use a broad spectrum sunscreen when using any vitamin A product due to an increase in sun sensitivity.