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Vitamin A is a favourite ingredient in many skin care products. It is also used in prescription only creams and gels to treat acne and Rosacea.

There is some confusion about Vitamin A and the many forms and strengths available so we will attempt to explain in simple terms.

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin which has many important functions in the body. It assists cells to reproduce, is essential for eye health and plays an important role in the immune system.

The role Vitamin A performs is essential for maintaining and repairing skin tissue by promoting the building of new cells and fighting free radicals.

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that some people believe vitamin A is just a topical treatment for acne, which can have side effects. This form of vitamin A is called tretinoin. It is an acid form of vitamin A, available only by prescription.

Tretinoin cream was originally used to treat acne, and it is still used for comedonal acne, a form with many whiteheads and blackheads;

The first studies on sun-damaged skin were done by an American dermatologist more than 30 years ago. These showed that tretinoin, used as a cream, could also reverse some of the signs of ageing.

Those who suffer from Rosacea  generally have a chronic deficiency of Vitamin A so the addition through skin care is a good first step. The inclusion of Vitamins C and E in a product will boost the result.

Names of various forms of Vitamin A:

• Vitamin A. A fat-soluble vitamin essential to the human body.

• Retinoid: A collective term for ingredients derived from vitamin A.

• Retinoic acid: Also known as tretinoin, this is a prescription only vitamin A derivative commonly used to treat acne. Side effects include irritation, dryness, redness, peeling and light sensitivity.

• Tretinoin: Another name for retinoic acid.

• Isotretinoin: A prescription only retinoid derivative used to treat severe acne. Side effects include dryness, sun sensitivity and sometimes eczema.

• Retinol: A retinoid used as a skin revitaliser to treat acne, rosacea and signs of ageing. It can cause dermatitis when used on sensitive skin for a long time or in too high concentrations.

• Retinyl palmitate: A retinoid and skin conditioner which is milder than retinoic acid and has fewer potential side effects.

• Retinaldehyde: A mild retinoid which increases skin thickness without causing irritation.

• Vitamin A palmitate: An antioxidant and skin "normaliser" which helps skin to stay plump, boosts collagen and improves thickness and elasticity.

Vitamin A is keratolytic which means it will remove plugs that block follicles and lead to pimples and acne.

While Retinyl palmitate and Vitamin A palmitate (the 2 forms used by MiSMo) are not as strong as the other forms described above they are still active and deliver visible results. They are also very gentle and do not cause reactions even in sensitive skin types.

The correct mix of Vitamins A, C and E in skin care is ideal because it is skin friendly and penetrates cells. The total combined results far exceed using just one or two vitamins.

PLEASE NOTE: Caution should always be exercised using prescription Vitamin A creams and gels. They are not recommended during pregnancy. Please follow your doctor's advice.

Over the counter skin care products are far milder than prescription lines.

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