The only form of Vitamin A that you should be using in your skincare

Just recently I was asked if Osmosis had a product that was similar to retinol so I decided to use this weeks blog to revisit this ingredient and share some information with you. 

First of all, there is A LOT of confusing and misleading claims online about this ingredient from skincare product lines and even leading skin care industry publications and professionals are promoting outdated information. 


Vitamin A is a tricky ingredient when it comes to being used in skincare. When it’s done right, the effect it can have on your dermis proves that it is the most potent anti-aging ingredient you can use. But use the wrong form of vitamin A and without a stabilized form and effective delivery system you will actually accelerate the aging process, increase DNA damage and your risk of skin cancer.

It’s important to know that all forms of Vitamin A have a tough time penetrating through the epidermis because of their size. 

Retinyl palmitate, the weakest form, shows no real benefit for the skin and is in fact being linked to an increase in skin cancer risk because of its immunosuppressive effects on UV damage repair and so it should not be used.  

Retinol is the next form of Vitamin A you will find and is commonly promoted as an anti-aging ingredient. It is 1000x weaker than the next step in vitamin A, which is retinaldehyde. One study showed that only 2% of the topically applied retinol penetrated through the upper layers of the epidermis. That means 98% stayed near the surface to be washed away with the next cleansing or remained where it does nothing but increase irritation and damage your protective barrier. So to get higher product penetration, manufacturers will increase the amount of retinol in a product, only to result in over exfoliation and irritation. Studies are showing now that retinol does not convert into retinaldehyde and then into retinoid acid within the skin as was previously thought, those are the only two forms of Vitamin A your skin uses for healthy repair. So rather than dermal thickening, which is only achievable with retinaldehyde or retinoid acid, you are only getting epidermal thickening. The epidermis swells as a result of the ongoing wounding resulting in looks and feels like smoother tighter skin with less fine lines and people assume it’s creating younger skin. But as soon as retinol products are discontinued the epidermis will returns to its previous state but not without having received oxidative DNA damage and accelerated aging from the inflammation it had fought during its use.


Before we talk about retinaldehyde, lets skip to retinoic acid which is available only through a prescription (Retin A).You would think that applying retinoic acid would be the answer since it is the most active in the skin and has the majority of the receptors in the skin for it to be used. The reason that is not true is because retinoic acid requires very careful regulation within the skin. The skin has no ability to store retinoic acid so whatever is produced (or applied topically) is utilized, creating irritation from overstimulation and over-exfoliation. It’s highly damaging to the epidermis and to cellular DNA as a result. Just as with other processes in the body, when receptors get over-stimulated, they don’t work as well. With retinoic acid being applied topically, the overstimulation forces the skin to down-regulate their receptor sites them making them less active over time and diminishing the results. Studies have shown that use of retinoic acid actually thins the dermis by 18% over 1 year of use.  


It’s only all trans retinaldehyde that has been shown in research studies to be of benefit to the skin when applied topically (it’s clinically proven to outperform retinoic acid with collagen production but with none of the side effects) and that all other forms do more harm and than good long term, resulting in a net negative. Retinaldehyde has its own receptor site activity and as it is the immediate key precursor to retinoic acid the skin will convert a significant amount into that form upon application. However there will never be a problem of overstimulation because the skin regulates it carefully and just makes what it needs. Retinaldehyde is stored within the skin safely without irritation until it can be utilized to stimulate collagen and elastin production in the dermis. It’s the only form of Vitamin A that is UVA and UVB protective and not photo-toxic, meaning safe for sun-exposure. What sets Osmosis serum’s apart even farther is our patented pharmaceutical grade liposome delivery system that not only dramatically increases penetration rates by 600% which remember is important not only because of particle size but also because all forms of A oxidize rapidly which renders most Vitamin A products inactive rapidly. Our liposome stabilized formula has a shelf life of 2 years which is unheard of in the industry. 


Osmosis has 4 amazing exclusive formulas to chose from:

Calm - the most gentle Vitamin A with .0375% liposomal retinaldehyde which is also known to benefit and calm inflammation and sensitive skin. Also contains 7 liposomal antioxidants and soothing botanicals to help restore and increase nutrient supply and moisture levels.

Clarify - Ideal for blemish prone skin. Retinaldehyde is naturally antibacterial and this liposomal formula contains ingredients helps normalize oil production, improve natural detoxification, calm inflammation, accelerate healing and restore your natural healthy barrier.

Correct - Osmosis age preventative .075% retinaldehyde serum delivers a patented serum that feeds and remodels the skin, while offering UVB protection and barrier repair leaving your skin rejuvenated and smooth.

Renew - Our .15% liposomal retinaldehyde serum is the most advanced, age reversing Vitamin A formula available. I recommended being able to use Correct serum comfortably first before making the jump to Renew.  


It is recommended to start slowly with our Vitamin A serums. Use every other night to start, adding in another night after 2 weeks continuing this until you are comfortably using every night. Then begin adding it in the morning one day at a time until you are using it every morning and evening. This allows for a smooth transition into the increased epidermal turnover you will experience that will result in your dermal transformation. 


If you have any questions on which Osmosis Vitamin A is the right one for you, I’m happy to help you anytime. This is a serum that I highly recommend to everyone 30 and over to use to help them age beautifully.