The Holy Grail of Vitamin A: It’s Not Retinol

by Amanda Beisel

We have all heard about Retinol - the most commonly used form of vitamin A in skincare today.  However few people are aware of Retinaldehyde, a superior form of vitamin A that is more potent but non-irritating. 

There are only a handful of skincare companies currently formulating with it. This is due to its higher costs and it’s instability.  Only one lab of scientists successfully stabilized this form of vitamin A by encapsulating it, they then patented it. The patented name is IconicA - Encapsulated Retinaldehyde.  

Vitamin A 101

Vitamin A has a very long track record of creating real, long term change in the skin. It is incredibly effective when used in the proper frequency, form, and in a high grade formulation.  The most superior, non-irritating form being Encapsulated Retinaldehyde.

A few key benefits:

  • It stimulates collagen
  • It regulates healthy cell turnover and cell development which essentially means it keeps your skin brighter and fresher looking.  When cell turnover naturally slows down your skin begins to look more dull and drab. 
  • Encapsulated Retinaldehyde also supports and controls the oil activity in your sebaceous glands. 
  • Encapsulated Retinaldehyde is the most bioavailable form of Vitamin A.  

Here’s where it gets important

Retinol is the most commonly used form of Vitamin A by skincare companies today.

Retinol is a good form of Vitamin A but certainly not the best, the chart below explains it drawbacks. 

First it is important to know that for any form of Vitamin A to have any impact on the skin it must convert to retinoic acid.  

The Vitamin A Conversion Chart

Retinyl Palmitate —>Retinol —>Retinaldehyde —>Retinoic Acid 

If you look above you can see that retinol is two conversion steps away from retinoic acid. So it has to convert to Retinaldehyde and THEN to retinoic acid to have any impact on the skin. 

What formulators do to try and overcome this and get maximum conversion is use a higher percentage of retinol in their formulas - but what all too often happens is that the increase in percentage leads to skin irritation, redness,  and flaking. Often industry professionals will tell you this is a normal response and that your skin will adjust overtime. Unfortunately that irritation is inflammation - the root of aging skin, acneic skin, rosacea skin and other skin conditions. 

There is the misconception that higher concentrations of Retinol make it more superior when in fact it is only making it more irritating. The percentage of the ingredient is not the determining factor of its efficacy - it is the form, percentage and the overall formulation that determines its effectiveness.

You may be thinking why not just go straight to the source and apply retinoic acid to your skin. It is true that retinoic acid is the final active form of vitamin A and all forms do need to convert to this to be effective but this also means it is the strongest form - resulting in irritation, redness, flaking and yes inflammation. This is the form of Vitamin A that you receive in prescription form from your doctor. 

*In my professional opinion high concentrations of Vitamin A are only beneficial when used as a peel in a clinical setting when you are provided with guidance and proper post care to support the healing and regeneration of the skin.  

The Superior Form of Vitamin A: Encapsulated Retinaldehyde

Retinaldehyde has long been known to be the “Holy Grail” of Vitamin A.  However there was one big problem and that was its instability.  It was very unstable and scientists could not stabilize it until the one day when they DID! They encapsulated it using the most future-forward Retinoid technology available.

Encapsulated Retinaldehyde is a potent yet non-irritating form of Vitamin A that can be stored in the skin and converted to retinoic acid as needed which means no irritation, redness, peeling, or inflammation occurs.  

Encapsulated Retinaldehyde stimulates collagen, improves the skin’s texture, reduces hyperpigmentation, and reduces the appearance of fine lines, and wrinkles and it is very beneficial for acne prone skin

At Forget Beauty we created two super powered formulations using the advanced encapsulated Retinaldehyde along with eastern herbs, antioxidants, and many other powerhouse ingredients and we kept the price affordable for our clients.    

#1 Empowered Collagen Revival Serum 

Empowered promotes collagen, and restores skin health back to a rejuvenated, refreshed state. This advanced pro-youth serum contains encapsulated retinaldehyde, glutathione, adenosine, sodium hyaluronate, plumping peptides and a host of powerful antioxidants to empower healthy skin. It contains 0.1% encapsulated Retinaldehyde.  The percentages look lower than a typical retinol percentage because Retinaldeyde is the pre-cursor to retinoic acid making it more potent. 0.1%  - 0.12% is the highest percentage available for a Retinaldehyde serum.  

#2 Harmonized Clarifying Serum

Harmonized merges eastern and western medicine. This unique formulation is designed to fight bacteria, reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune function of the skin, while restoring skin heath. It contains 0.05% encapsulated Retinaldehyde.

Find your “Vitamin A Frequency"

An important point to remember is that Vitamin A is an exfoliator - and using it daily may not be beneficial for most skin types and needs. It works from the ground up (the opposite of an acid which works from the outside in). Encapsulated Retinaldehyde penetrates to the dermal layer where it stimulates the formation of healthy new basal cells which then pushes off the top dead layer of cells. This regulates cell turnover ensuring we are producing healthy well formed cells leaving our skin brighter and healthier looking.

If you have more “Robust” skin then you can use it every night. By "Robust" skin I mean it is well hydrated, and healthy with a strong barrier - you don’t struggle with sensitivity and redness and tolerate other actives very well. 

If you are acne prone I suggest only using your serum every 3rd night to start and potentially increasing to every second night after a month or two. Most clients respond best using it every 3rd night - increasing the frequency can result in the chronic purge.

Use your “skintuition” and find the best frequency for you.