Active Ingredients: Vitamin A

Rachel Gibbons Beauty Expert
Active Ingredients: Vitamin A

Everything you need to know about Vitamin A, the powerhouse ingredient found in retinol. 

If you didn’t already know Vitamin A is a powerhouse ingredient that can tackle a wide range of skin concerns. Take for example retinols and retinoids that are known to help with anti-aging, acne and pigmentation, to name a few, are actually derivatives of Vitamin A.

Vitamin A largely refers to a group of retinoids that differ in their potency and how they convert in the skin that results in their effectiveness. A simplified summary of retinoids is that there are 3 types – retinol, retinal and retinoids. Retinol is the most commonly found as it can be purchased over the counter and requires no doctor’s prescription, but they are also on the weaker side of the spectrum. Retinoids is the strongest and requires a doctor’s prescription. Retinal falls in the middle of the spectrum.

If you would like to know more about the differences between retinol and retinoids, you can find out more here!



Stimulates cell turnover

  • One of vitamin A’s strongpoint is its ability to increase our skin’s cell turnover. This means getting rid of older, dead skin cells and regenerating newer, healthier cells that are usually smoother and brighter.

Reduces pigmentation

  • In stimulating cell regeneration, it often results in less pigmentation (dark spots, age spots, scarring) which results in brighter, radiant skin.

Smoothens the skin

  • Other than brightening the skin, vitamin A can also improve the skin texture as it also stimulates collagen production that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as strengthening the skin against collagen deterioration.

Boost the healing process

  • With vitamin A promoting cell regeneration, it can also speed up the healing process against post-acne and other small wounds, resulting in lesser scarring, a healthier skin health and better moisture retention. 

Regulates sebum production

  • One of the reasons why vitamin A derivatives are a great anti-acne treatment is because, on top of it stimulating cell regeneration that prevents clogged pores, it also balances oil production that together work well to reduce buildup.

Protects the skin

  • Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant that works to protect the skin from free radicals and UV stressors like pollution and UV rays. Free radicals and environmental threats are known to weaken the skin and even encourage premature aging.


What to note?

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume or apply any form of vitamin A! If you would like to include them in your skincare routine, you must consult a doctor.
  • Adding vitamin A to your skin routine is something that should start small and slow, meaning from the lowest concentration and allowing your skin to slowly tolerate the effects of vitamin A.
  • Use of vitamin A can result in various side effects like irritation, dryness, photosensitivity, redness and peeling. These are some of the side effects but not limited to as everyone’s skin reacts differently. This process is known as retinization, it is the process whereby your skin is getting used to the ingredient and will subside once your skin has grown a tolerance. If the side effects continue to persist, cease use and consult a doctor.
  • Something very important about vitamin A derivatives is that results do not appear immediately, it can take around 8-12 weeks to see improvement. Consistency and patience is key.
  • As with all ingredients and products, do conduct a patch test 24-48 hours prior to application, either on your wrist or behind your ear to lessen chances of an allergic/sensitive reaction.


Products we recommend and where to find them

The INKEY List

The Ordinary

Granactive Retinoid is at a stronger level than retinol but its main benefits are anti-aging rather than anti-acne. So, if you’re main concern is anti-aging, granactive retinoid is something you can try.




So if you ever see a product claiming to have Vitamin A, just know these are the few of its benefits that largely benefit skin concerns like anti-aging, anti-acne and oilier skin types. Something important when it comes to Vitamin A is that results aren't instant and can take up to 12 weeks to show, though some people may show results very early on. Please do not compare your progress to others as everyone's skin is different and something that works for hundreds may not work for you and that's completely normal. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment down below.

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