Vitamin A is the Versatile, Powerful Skin Care Ingredient We All Need

Vitamin A is the Versatile, Powerful Skin Care Ingredient We All Need I Mirra Skincare

Vitamins are a common topic when it comes to a healthy lifestyle. There are endless amounts of vitamins and vitamin derivatives, but people commonly stick to the same few out of comfort and familiarity. Vitamin A typically is not an extremely popular one, but it is a powerful skin care ingredient that absolutely should be.


1. What is vitamin A in skin care?

2. What products have vitamin A?

3. What does vitamin A do for the skin?

4. How should it be used?

  • Vitamin A is a powerful skin care ingredient and a favorite amongst dermatologists worldwide, for good reason. It is one of the most researched skin care ingredients known to date and has proven results
  • Vitamin A derivatives come in the form of retinoic acid which can mean retinol, retinoids, tretinoin, or even the oral form isotretinoin
  • Essentially, vitamin A helps to increase skin cell turnover which therefore improves the appearance of acne, scarring, and hyperpigmentation. But, it also has been proven to prevent signs of premature aging and sun damage

What is vitamin A in skin care?

Vitamin A may not be one of the most popular vitamins when it comes to things like immune system health or gut health. But, when it comes to skin health, vitamin A is a cult favorites of dermatologists across the world. Essentially, vitamin A promotes skin healing. It helps to prevent breakouts and supports the skin’s immune system by keeping the epidermis properly hydrated and moisturized

What products have vitamin A?

Vitamin A is prevalent in skin care, and it may already be incorporated in your routine in products you aren't aware of. To preface, oftentimes a direct ingredient in skin care won't be vitamin A but instead a derivative of vitamin A. 


Via Giphy 

Hopefully, by now, all of you are familiar with the terms retinol, retinoids, and tretinoin. They are clinically proven to prevent signs of premature aging and improve numerous skin moods such as acne, acne scarring, texture, and clogged pores.

All forms of retinol, whether it be retinoids, retin-A, tretinoin, or even isotretinoin, are simply derivatives of vitamin A or retinoic acid. This ingredient typically comes in the form of a gel, cream, or pill and is usually prescription only, but lower doses can be found over the counter.

Derivatives are synthesized forms of vitamin A (retinol) that are developed strategically to be stabilized and have a long shelf life and be gentle enough to use topically. So, while you may be overwhelmed reading this thinking you’ve never even heard of vitamin A in skin care and now there are all of these new products and ingredients you should be using. Relax. It’s more than likely that you are already incorporating a vitamin A derivative in your routine.

What does vitamin A do for the skin?

So, all of this sounds great, but what exactly do vitamin A and its derivatives do for the skin? Honestly, the answers are endless. Vitamin A derivatives are the most widely investigated and researched ingredient in the history of dermatology. Since uncovering in 1909, it has been on scientists' radar as a potential aid to sun protection and prevention. It wasn’t until 1931 that it was first isolated, and it took another 16 years before it was developed in a useful form.

The beauty of vitamin A derivatives in skin care is that their benefits are essentially endless. If you’ve ever been to the dermatologist, chances are you have been recommended or prescribed some form of vitamin A for your skin, whether it was topical or oral. This is because it is viewed as a catch-all treatment for almost all skin moods.

Here is a list of some, but not all, of the benefits vitamin A has for the skin:

The list can go on, but pretty much any skin mood you’re experiencing can probably be paired with a vitamin A derivative in your routine.


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How should it be used?

This is the tricky part when it comes to vitamin A. Because it is used to treat several different skin moods, it also has several different directions that are specific to the individual and the task at hand. There are some general rules regarding vitamin A in skin care.

The first cardinal rule is that less is more. While this remains true for several things in life, it is especially true and almost essential when first starting out with a vitamin A derivative.

The way that vitamin A works its magic is by increasing skin cell turnover. Your skin cells have a life cycle just like any other cell in your body. When your skin cells die, newer and healthier ones are already ready to replace them. Essentially, a vitamin A derivative works to speed up this process resulting in a faster turnover of skin cells meaning quicker healing of things like acne, acne scars, hyperpigmentation, and sunburns or sunspots.

While this is extremely beneficial to the health and appearance of your skin, it does oftentimes cause some adverse side effects when first introducing the product into your routine. Many people experience what dermatologists call a “purging” stage that lasts the first four to six weeks. All the skin’s impurities are pushed to the surface simultaneously because the skin cell turnover process is being accelerated. 


Via Giphy

While a purging stage is completely normal and expected, if your symptoms do not resolve after six to eight weeks with consistent use, or you experience severe burning, redness, or itching, stop using the product and contact your dermatologist. You may be having an allergic reaction, or your skin is sensitive and a lower concentration of retinol would be best.

Your dermatologist will most likely give you specifics on how often to use your vitamin A, but the general rule of thumb is to start slowly, using just twice a week, and gradually increase to every night. You only need a pea size amount of retinoic acid, no matter if it’s your first or thousandth time using it. Vitamin A is a powerful ingredient, and your skin only needs a small amount to see results.

Vitamin A is an essential ingredient when it comes to the health and appearance of your skin. It is recommended by dermatologists worldwide to treat a variety of skin moods. It is also a phenomenal preventative product in terms of aging and sun damage. Talk to your dermatologist about incorporating a form of vitamin A into your routine, but always remember that less is more.

Written by Jordan Hammaren


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  1. https://www.environskincare.com/vitamin-a/what-does-vitamin-a-do-for-your-skin/#:~:text=Vitamin%20A%20helps%20to%20speed,two%20layers%20of%20your%20skin
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7764495/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32359642/
  4. https://www.cell.com/current-biology/pdf/S0960-9822(07)02439-6.pdf
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-a-for-skin#vitamin-a-deficiency
  6. Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash


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