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The Problem with Synthetic Retinol

What is the problem with cosmetic products and sunscreens containing retinol and other forms of Vitamin A?

We are exposed to significant amounts of vitamin A in our diets. Some health authorities have cautioned if we add additional exposure, such as from cosmetics and sunscreens, we may exceed the recommended daily upper limit for vitamin A. This could be a problem because too much vitamin A can cause a variety of health problems, including hair loss and liver damage, and skeletal defects in a developing fetus. Vitamin A includes retinol, retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinyl linoleate. The US Environmental Working Group recommends that consumers avoid skin products containing the above.

There is an additional concern based on animal studies that retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid may increase the risk of skin cancer when the skin is exposed to sunlight. That is the reason sunscreens are recommended when using topical retinoids. Surprisingly, vitamin A can be found as an ingredient in many sunscreen products in North America. This practice is prohibited in the EU.

Imaya’s Retinoic Face Oil does not contain vitamin A – it contains the provitamin beta carotene. Our bodies regulate the process to convert topical beta carotene to retinol in the skin, taking only what we need. The amount of retinol it contributes to our bodies is small compared to what retinol containing cosmetics contribute.


Environmental Working Group Guide to Sunscreens.

European Commmission (2016). Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety Opinion on Vitamin A. SCCS /1576/16

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