Retinyl palmitate is closely related to retinol, the primary form of vitamin A naturally present in meat, fish, and eggs. Manufacturers of over-the-counter topical skin care products often use retinyl palmitate in their formulations as its skin care properties are much the same as those of retinol.
The substance is derived from a blend of retinol and palmitic acid, a complex fatty acid. It easily converts into retinoic acid, an active form of vitamin A, when absorbed by the skin. Indeed, retinol is more natural and thus, better processed by the body as it requires fewer steps to break it down into the aforementioned acid. It’s also more potent and its effects are slightly more dramatic and immediate.
However, the higher potency of retinol also means there is a higher risk of side effects than with retinyl palmitate. However, both may bring negative side effects like redness, dryness, and flakiness.
Retinyl Palmitate Benefits
Also known as retinol palmitate or vitamin A palmitate, retinyl palmitate is a powerful antioxidant and therefore, a common ingredient in moisturizers, sunscreens, and topical medications. This substance is available in topical formulations and oral supplements that promote the overall health of your skin.
The retinoid retinyl palmitate has many skin care benefits and thus is the first-line treatment for acne and also for increasing collagen production to decrease signs of facial aging. Be aware that most topical retinoids increase sun sensitivity, so you’ll have to avoid sun exposure after you apply it.
It’s safe for all skin types but you must gradually introduce it into your beauty routine if you have dry or sensitive skin as it’s a potential irritant.
Treating Acne With Retinyl Palmitate
The topical application of this substance can effectively reduce acne lesions and improve the overall appearance of your skin. You can also undergo an oral retinyl palmitate treatment but need larger doses of it to notice any effects – about 150,000–200,000 IU daily.
Retinyl palmitate works by increasing cell turnover, which in turn accelerates the rate at which dead and damaged skin purges and regenerates. It prevents the buildup of dead skin and other debris so it keeps the pores clean, decreases inflammation, and lessens the likelihood of breakouts.
Retinyl palmitate is best for treating mild cases of acne due to its relatively low potency as a retinoid. You may require prescription-strength retinoids such as tretinoin for severe inflammatory types of acne-like cysts and nodules.
The Anti-Aging Benefits of Retinyl Palmitate
Collagen protein is responsible for maintaining the structure, firmness, and suppleness of your skin. Thus, the anti-aging benefits of retinyl palmitate stem from the fact that it both supports the production of collagen and prevents its breakdown.
Did you know your body’s collagen production slows as a natural part of your aging process? Indeed, it leads to decreased tissue volume, lax skin, and the appearance of wrinkles. Well, this is when retinyl palmitate becomes relevant as it helps counteract these effects. It does so by softening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles over time.
Not only that, but retinyl palmitate also helps fade the appearance of age spots and other forms of skin discoloration by increasing cell turnover. This turnover accelerates the rate at which unevenly pigmented areas of skin purge and regenerate.
Forms of Retinyl Palmitate
Retinyl palmitate is available in various formulas and some are better suited for specific types of skin. Thus, the hydrating creams are best for those with dry skin while the gel formulations tend to be absorbed into the skin more quickly and are a better choice for those susceptible to acne. Then there are the serums, which are lightweight, water-based, and ideal for you if you have oily skin
This retinoid is also available in oral form — pills that are usually prescribed as a mild acne medication or to counteract a vitamin A deficiency.
While most vitamin A supplements are formulated with retinyl palmitate, they may not have as direct an effect on your skin as topical retinyl palmitate. They’ll, however, definitely increase overall levels of vitamin A and promote the growth of healthy skin in the long term.
Possible Side Effects
Never exceed a daily dosage of 3,000 IU as Vitamin A is toxic in high amounts and could cause severe liver damage. Likewise, the potential side effects of topical retinyl palmitate include redness, dryness, and flakiness. These effects are usually mild although more pronounced in those with dry or sensitive skin.
We already mentioned that retinyl palmitate, like other retinoids, is phototoxic and can lead to photosensitivity if you expose your skin to the sun after applying it topically. It actually exacerbates your risk of developing sunburn, photoaging, and even skin cancer. This is because retinoids produce free radicals when in contact with ultraviolet light. Free radicals are unstable compounds that lead to skin oxidation and thus, damage.
So, never apply retinyl palmitate immediately before sun exposure to avoid these risks. Apply it as part of your nightly skin care routine, instead.
Another risk of taking retinyl palmitate orally is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy-related complications. This is because the dosage for treating acne exceeds the recommended intake limit for pregnant women. It can alter blood chemistry and worsen the risk of birth defects in developing fetuses.
In turn, topical retinyl palmitate isn’t as effectively absorbed into the bloodstream as oral supplements so it doesn’t carry the same risk for pregnant women.
Alternatives to Retinyl Palmitate
Some alternatives to retinyl palmitate provide similar benefits. For example, retinyl acetate is milder than other retinoids and can effectively increase collagen production and counteract mild acne. In turn, retinol is slightly stronger, as we mentioned above, and great for treating acne and reducing the appearance of wrinkles but carries a slightly higher risk of skin dryness and irritation.
Then there’s tretinoin and other prescription-strength retinoids. All are good for the treatment of severe acne and impervious to over-the-counter treatments as long as you properly follow their usage instructions.
Other substances like benzoyl peroxide can decrease acne by killing bacteria, increasing cell turnover, and regulating sebum production. Hyaluronic acid encourages moisture retention and softens the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots.
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that can counteract the effects of free radicals and reduce some signs of aging as well as decrease acne inflammation. Similarly, bakuchiol, a plant extract, provides similar anti-aging benefits to retinoids without harmful side effects. Let’s look at some of the commercial forms of retinyl palmitate currently on the market.
Retinyl Palmitate Products
Micellized Vitamin A
This is a bottle of liquid vitamin A palmitate and beta carotene drops for eye and immune health support. It contains 5000 IU Vitamin A per drop and is hypoallergenic and bioavailable. The bottle contains 600 one-ounce doses and currently holds 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon.
The liquid is highly concentrated and each drop supplies 1,507 mcg RAE of vitamin A (1500 mcg RAE as vitamin A palmitate and 7 mcg RAE as beta-carotene).
Make sure the drops are micellized. Micellization is a natural process that supports the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This manufacturer packages their vitamin A into micelles to support optimal body absorption and utilization.
These tiny drops have a big impact on your body as vitamin A is an important nutrient for the health of your vision, immune system function, bone and cartilage development, and the maintenance and repair of epithelial tissue.
In addition, the product is hypoallergenic as it contains potassium sorbate, a well-tolerated stabilizing agent. It’s also free of common allergens such as casein from dairy, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, gluten, and soybeans, and contains no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Klaire Lab Products, the manufacturer, was developed by physicians and other healthcare practitioners in 1969. Thus, they’re intended to be used as directed by your physician. Note that none of the statements of this company in regard to this product have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Reviewers report that the product is a somewhat bitter, sweet, and oily orange liquid that tastes like carrots. It’s slightly bitter but a little sweet so not altogether unpleasant. They noticed relief in their dry eyes in just 24 hours and their vision improved a bit, becoming less blurry after more than a month of continued use.
Another reviewer who used this product for over a year says they could tell the difference after not taking it for a few weeks as their eyes had a harder time focusing, especially close up. In turn, some unhappy reviewers reported that their skin turned orange and it stained their clothes.
Carlson – Vitamin A
Carlson Vitamin A is offered in bottles containing either 120 or 240 soft gels of retinyl palmitate. They recommend the product for improving vision, skin, and immune health function.
The product currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is sold as a powerful antioxidant. A single soft gel provides 15,000 IU (4,500 mcg RAE) of vitamin A from retinyl palmitate. The Carlson products were founded by women in the 60s and are still owned by the same family. They test all of their products for potency and quality in an accredited laboratory.
Reviewers report buying this product from Carlson Labs for almost 20 years and the consistency of quality has been maintained throughout. They also say the price is reasonable and the delivery is always prompt.
However, an unhappy reviewer says the product comes with a sticker over the expiration date so you have no way of knowing if the product is still good. They tried removing the sticker but it removes the print on the bottle.
Embody Multivitamin Retinol Gummy
This 60-count, strawberry-flavored gummies vitamin A supplement is marketed for deterring aging, clearing acne from the skin, and attaining glowing youthful hair, skin, and nails. It also contains biotin, vitamin C, B12, and zinc.
The product currently holds 4.3 out of 5 stars on Amazon and the manufacturer promises you can enjoy all the benefits of a retinol serum, minus the irritation. They add that the strawberry gummies help reduce blemishes, prevent premature aging, and give your skin a dewy glow as they’re made specifically for acne-prone, oily, dry, maturing, or sensitive skin. In fact, they claim these gummies can replace the need for costly anti-aging treatments and serums.
The product is an all-in-one skincare solution containing vitamin A retinyl acetate that helps stimulate cell turnover, reduces the severity of occasional breakouts, and helps strengthen your skin against environmental damage. It also contains vitamin C which helps your body produce collagen and keeps your skin glowing, while the biotin or vitamin B7 supports the keratin structures of your body.
Most reviewers love the flavor and love the idea of retinol gummies but didn’t notice much in the way of results. In fact, some think the biotin in the product might have been a contributing factor to breakouts they subsequently had after using the product. However, another reviewer noticed much improvement after taking them for three weeks, noting that their skin is plumper and has a healthy glow.
EZ Melts A as Retinol
This is a US-made product which comes in a bottle of 60 fast-dissolving sublingual vitamin tablets for immune support. They’re vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, contain no sugar (but do contain edulcorates), have no artificial colors and flavors, and taste like real strawberries.
The product currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon and is marketed as a supplement to support immune, skin, and eye health by providing vitamin A. They promise it’ll help with bone development and with the maintenance of essential tissue linings in your body.
EZ Melts are specially formulated to quickly melt in your mouth without the need for water and are perfect for children or for those who have a hard time swallowing pills.
As of June 2020, this supplement uses retinol from retinol acetate so they’re using the actual vitamin A, not beta carotene, its precursor. The retinol this manufacturer uses is a synthetic, vegan source of Vitamin A and they claim it isn’t only as potent as it was before but has a better flavor.
An unhappy reviewer who’s allergic to stevias doesn’t recommend it for those who might also be allergic. In their case, it resulted in a nervous system reaction that included extreme headache, nausea, and dizziness, among other symptoms caused by this edulcorant crossing the blood-brain barrier in those who are allergic to it.
A second reviewer isn’t happy with the change we mentioned above as the vitamins don’t melt as easily as they did before. They say the tablets are also larger and more bitter.
A third reviewer is happy with the product and tells of how it cleared her 6-year-old daughter’s keratosis pilaris, a skin condition that looks like little bumps on arms and cheeks. The cause was vitamin A deficiency and this product has definitely improved her condition after using.
NOW Supplements, Vitamin A (Fish Liver Oil)
This is a bottle of 250 soft gels of 25,000 IU of vitamin A from fish liver oil per soft gel serving. The product currently holds 4.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon. It helps maintain the tissues that line the internal and external surfaces of the body such as the eyes, skin, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and urinary tracts.
It is kosher and contains no artificial flavors, gelatin, GMO, corn, dairy, eggs, gluten, or soy. The NPA A-rated certification means every aspect of the manufacturing process of this supplement has been examined for stability, potency, and product formulation, along with their laboratory and testing methods. It’s been packaged in the USA by a family-owned and -operated company since 1968.
A reviewer gives it 5 stars because they think it’s absolutely great for what it is and you get exactly what the label says. They, however, want you to consider whether you would rather get rid of your acne or of your hair!
According to this reviewer, the supplement definitely cleared their skin in a matter of days — although not entirely as they have a severe case. Still, it worked faster, more efficiently, and was cheaper than anything else they’ve used.
However, their hair started thinning even though it’s always been thick and dense. They tried to find medical literature on the subject but couldn’t as it’s quite limited. Not only that but the skin clearing didn’t last and now their acne is back along with a new balder head at a young age.
However, another reviewer is happy with the product and says it’s the best thing she’s ever tried for acne, including consulting a dermatologist. Not only that, but this vitamin also relieved some of her menstrual symptoms.
As a quick review, retinyl palmitate is a retinoid for the treatment of mild acne that can also reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It is safe for all skin types but may cause some mild irritation in dry sensitive skin. It functions by stimulating cell turnover and collagen production and is available in over-the-counter creams, gels, lotions, and oral supplements. Cheers to healthy skin!