" Studies showed that retinol increases the phototoxicity of UV light."
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a member of vitamin A family that has been used as a skincare product ingredient for decades. Vitamin A is required for the healthy functioning of our eyes and skin. However, as a fat-soluble compound, it stays in the body for a much longer period than water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and vitamin B. Vitamin A overdose can cause enlarged liver, dry skin and serious birth defects in pregnant women. In severe cases, it can even cause death due to toxicity.
" This is amazing! I noticed a difference round my eyes after the first application. My skin felt tighter and firmer after just a couple of days."
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Is Retinol The Real Anti-Ageing Ingredient?
Retinol is often listed as one of the ingredients in skincare products for mature skin. Several studies suggest that retinol boosts the collagen synthesis and cellular activity in the skin. However, retinol is highly unstable, particularly when it is exposed to light and air. In addition to this, retinol is also a highly phototoxic substance which becomes toxic when exposed to light especially UV light.
The Phototoxicity of Retinol
Retinol has been used in skincare for many decades. Numerous studies showed that retinol increases the phototoxicity of UV light (The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health). It increases the risk of skin cancer. If you still want to use a skincare product that contains retinol, use it at night only. Limit the skin's exposure to UV light and always wear at least SPF30 sunblock during the day.
Due to its instability and phototoxicity, I don't use retinol in my skincare formulas. There are better and safer alternative vitamins to retinol such as vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin B3 (niacinamide), pro-vitamin B5 (panthenol) and stabilised vitamin E (tocopheryl acetate). Unlike retinol, these vitamins actually help protect your skin against UV damage. Both of my award-winning face serums, Antioxidant Youthful Essence and Bio-Collagen Serum have been formulated with multivitamins and antioxidants to reduce the signs of ageing and help protect the skin from UV-induced photoageing.
“Facelift in a bottle! Delighted with my purchase. Within minutes my skin feels tighter and looks fresher.”
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Henry Tianus is a multi-award-winning Anti-Ageing Scientist based in London, UK. Henry Tianus has been listed as The Recognised Institute Practitioner at The Institute of Traditional Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy (ITHMA), London (UK) since 2005. Henry Tianus's articles have been read by people in more than 100 countries with USA and UK at the top of the list. Join Henry Tianus eNewsletter to receive the latest health and wellbeing tips.
Scientific Sources: Photodecomposition and Phototoxicity of Natural Retinoids, The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2005 May, 2(1): 147–155; Efficacy of beta-carotene topical application in melasma: an open clinical trial, Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2002 Nov-Dec, 68(6): 320-2; Beta Carotene, Nutri-Facts (Understanding Vitamins & More); β-Carotene Conversion to Vitamin A Decreases As the Dietary Dose Increases in Humans, The Journal of Nutrition, 2010 May; 140(5): 915–918.
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