Most of us know that Vitamin A is good for the skin. But what does it really do and is vitamin A alone enough for the skin?

Hi, I am Dr. Saba Qutub. I am the founder of DR SQ skincare range and I am a cosmetic physician and Director of Armstrong Health.

Vitamin A, commonly known as retinol is a wonder ingredient for the skin. Check out my earlier video here, where I talked about different types of vitamin A in the market and their relative potency.

So what does vitamin A do for your skin and how does it really work. We have good research and data with retinol and retinaldehyde. So when I am talking about topical vitamin A for cosmeceutical use, I am referring to these two derivatives. Retinyl palmitate is a much weaker derivative and might not have all the properties I am going to talk about.

Before we talk about the properties let’s quickly know the active ingredient.

Retinoic acid is the active ingredient that does all the magic on the skin. So to keep it simple, Retinol is oxidised and converted to retinaldehyde which is then oxidised and converted to Retinoic acid.

So the more active the ingredient is, the higher the strength, it will have more efficacy on the skin. 

So first of all, the magical, wonderful anti-aging property of Vitamin A. Reducing fine lines and wrinkles. How does it do that? It does that by increasing the capacity of the epidermis, which is the top layer of the skin,  to hold water, it also stimulates collagen synthesis by inhibiting the enzymes that break down collagen. The overall effect is, reduction in fine lines and skin looks firmer with regular use. 

Secondly, Vitamin A reduces hyperpigmentation of skin which is brown discolored, irregular patches on the skin. It does that by enhancing the turnover of the epidermal cells. This in turn decreases the contact time between keratinocytes and melanocytes, melanocytes are cells containing pigment and keratinocytes are the major cell in the skin. 

Vitamin A also reduces the roughness of the skin and improves the overall appearance and texture of the skin. 

It does that by modifying the genes that are responsible for cell differentiation. This results in an increase in epidermal cell turnover, and again you have younger, healthier cells in our skin renewing at a faster rate with constant vitamin A use. 

So in a nutshell, Vitamin A reduces fine lines and wrinkles, reduces hyperpigmentation, reduces roughness of skin, and makes your skin look visibly smoother, firmer with regular use.