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The Future of Vitamin A

What’s new for everyone’s favourite anti-ager?

It seems we can’t get enough of Vitamin A. The ingredient is currently enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as new and exciting formulas packed with innovative technology and modern derivatives hit the shelves this spring. One brand that is leading the way in Vitamin A advancement is Medik8, so who better to sit us down and chat all things Retinol than their Formulation and Development Director, Daniel Isaacs? Grab a notepad and pen; you’re going to want to take notes.

We all know that Vitamin A and its derivatives are some of the best youth-preserving skin care ingredients available, tackling everything from uneven tone to fine lines. But what’s the deal with all the different variations? “In order for Vitamin A to have an effect on our skin, it has to undergo a conversion process,” explains Daniel Isaacs. “This goes something like Retinol → Retinaldehyde → Retinoic Acid → Skin Benefits.” This means that whatever derivative of Vitamin A you use, the skin has to convert it into Retinoic Acid in order for it to work its magic. The weaker the derivative, the more steps it has to go through before the skin can convert it into something useful which, ultimately, means minimal results that take longer to become apparent.

Decoding Your Derivatives

So which derivatives work best? Medik8 are well-known for their impressive catalogue of Vitamin A formulas, offering something for everyone and every skin need. For new users, a clear step-up system that is easy to follow is a great way to track your Retinol progress, and a tolerable ingredient like All-Trans Retinol is a great place to start, according to Daniel, “Our Retinol range is a great introduction to those who are new to Vitamin A. The 1 TR, 3 TR, 6 TR and 10 TR all contain our pure, All-Trans Retinol and the number refers to the amount of Retinol in each product, for example, Retinol 1 TR contains 0.1%, Retinol 3 TR contains 0.3% and so on. An ideal Retinol product to start you on your Vitamin A journey is the Retinol 3 TR. It contains a medium strength Retinol, which is low enough to cause minimal irritation but high enough to make a significant improvement to your skin.”

However, Retinol isn’t without its problems. The rate at which the ingredient penetrates the skin combined with its cell turnover-increasing abilities means irritation and redness are common amongst Retinol users, but Medik8 have kept this in mind during the formulation of their serums. They have included time-release technology in all their Retinol products to essentially drip feed the ingredient into the skin slowly, over a longer period of time, to reduce the risk of irritation.

Step Up!

One of the most confusing things about Vitamin A is understanding how to find the perfect schedule for your skin. Some of the most common questions about the ingredient revolve around how often you should apply it and for how long before stepping up to something a little stronger. “Retinol products should be phased in gradually, as initially they can cause some irritation due to an overwhelming amount of Vitamin A being added to your skin,” explains Daniel. “Therefore, for the first two weeks, apply it only twice a week. For the next two weeks, apply it every other night and from then on, apply it every evening. If you feel your skin is irritated by this, drop down a step to allow your skin to naturally adjust to the higher levels of Vitamin A. When your skin has fully adjusted, you can try out a slightly stronger formula like the 6 TR and, eventually, work up to the 10 TR.”

But what about those who have completed a step-up system like this and want to progress further? For most brands, this is where the Retinol journey ends and skin begins to plateau. But, at Medik8, new derivatives and formulas are being developed all the time, offering customers new ways to get their Vitamin A fix. One such product is the game-changing r-Retinoate Youth Activating Cream, which quickly became a best-seller when it launched a couple of years ago. What makes this different to Medik8’s previous Vitamin A offerings is new ingredient Retinyl Retinoate. This hybrid molecule combines Retinol with Retinoic Acid (the type of Vitamin A the body recognises) to create an exciting encapsulated active. “This new molecule exhibits the properties of both of its parts; improving the results of Retinol, but without any of the side effects typically associated with Retinoic Acid,” reveals Daniel. “An impressive clinical trial published in the British Journal of Dermatology demonstrated that Retinyl Retinoate delivers astonishing results – it’s more effective than Retinol, yet at a significantly lower dosage. It’s also eight times more powerful than standard Retinol, is photo-stable so it can be used day and night, and is suitable for the most sensitive of skins. As it’s biologically active, it can be used straight away without phasing it in.”

A Retinol Revolution

The next wave of Retinol reinvention is upon us and Medik8 are at the forefront. Not content with creating a completely new derivative, the formulation team have been busy developing the next generation of Vitamin A-based skin care. Their new Crystal Retinal serums contain Retinaldehyde, a notoriously unstable derivative that, until now, has been hard to formulate effectively. This super-charged derivative of Vitamin A has been encapsulated within a crystal molecule by Medik8 to create an ingredient that is clinically proven to work faster than Retinol, as Daniel explains: “Crystal Retinal is our new super-charged derivative of Vitamin A and sits in between our Retinols and the r-Retinoate products. It uses a version of Retinaldehyde which is one step closer to Retinoic Acid, so it only has to convert once. We use a patented time-release delivery system that encapsulates the Retinaldehyde in a crystal molecular vehicle that is broken down by the skin’s natural enzymes upon contact. This unique action controls the release of the active to ensure the formula remains stable, absorption is optimised and the highly-potent formula is distributed evenly and constantly throughout the night.” If that wasn’t enough, the ingredient also boasts powerful antibacterial properties which diminish the number of breakout-causing bacteria on the surface of the skin, making the Crystal Retinal range ideal for acne-prone skins. 

And it doesn’t stop there. The Retinol landscape is ever-changing and Daniel Isaacs doesn’t see the desire for more variations of the ingredient stopping anytime soon, “Without a doubt, the field of Vitamin A will continue to evolve. We passionately believe that Vitamin A is the future of skin care and we at Medik8 are significantly investing into further research and development of the active.” We can’t wait to see what’s in store. 

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