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  • Writer's pictureThe Skin Genie

The Science of Retinol & Why it's Good for your Skin

Updated: Feb 15

Hello and Happy New Year to all our readers. Here at The Otto Clinic, we have just recently introduced a new range of skin products by Alumier MD, the market leader in retinol-based skincare. Clients often ask us "what is retinol?" and so we thought it appropriate to share the following article by Alumier MD with you. Additionally, if you want to gen up on the science behind retinol, you can download the full scientific paper by following the link at the end of this article.

What is Retinol?

Dr. Albert M. Kligman was a dermatologist who, along with his colleagues, first identified the use of retinoid acid as a treatment for acne and wrinkles in 1986. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and part of the retinoid family along with retinaldehyde (retinal), retinyl palmitate and retinal acetate.

Over 40 years of established research and more than 700 published studies show that retinoids help treat ageing skin by increasing firmness, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and improving skin tone and texture. The current definition of a retinoid is any molecule that, by itself or through metabolic conversion, binds to and activates the retinoic acid receptors, thereby eliciting transcriptional activation of retinoic acid-responsive genes that results in specific biologic responses.

It is the action of retinoic acid on DNA that accounts for its biological effects on the skin such as the control of epithelial cell proliferation and differentiation, immune modulation, stimulation of the creation of new blood vessels, and production of collagen.

The Bioavailability of Retinoids 

Retinoic acid is the only form of retinol that the body can use. Therefore, specialized enzymes in skin cells must be used to convert other forms of vitamin A into retinoic acid. Some forms of vitamin A are more easily converted to retinoic acid than others.

Retinoic Acid Conversion Pathway: 

Retinyl Palmitate > Retinol > Retinaldehyde > Retinoic Acid

As shown above, it takes two metabolic steps to convert retinol to retinoic acid and three steps to convert retinyl palmitate to retinoic acid. Therefore, a relatively large amount of retinol and even larger amount of retinyl palmitate need to be delivered into a cell to boost retinoic acid levels and produce clinically meaningful effects.

If you would like to discuss how to reverse ageing skin, please don't hesitate to book a skin consultation with one of our experts.

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