Should You Avoid Vitamin A?

Reader question:  Hi! I was reading one of your articles, and I saw that you can't put on a cream that has vitamin A in it before going in the sun. What is the reason? I was about to buy an eye cream but I saw that there is vitamin A in it, should I avoid it?

Back in 2010 EWG reported a possible link between the use of Retinyl palmitate (the ester of Vitamin A combined with palmitic acid) and skin cancer.  Retinyl palmitate is considered a natural and gentler version of the synthetic cosmetic ingredient Retin A, and is used in facial creams and sunscreens for its anti aging and antioxidant properties.   But EWG ranks the ingredient as a moderate hazard due to “cellular changes, respiratory and reproductive toxicity, possible carcinogenic effects, and enhanced skin absorption”.  Here's a little insight into how EWG comes up with their ratings.

The above findings by EWG were based on tests where above normal amounts of the ingredient were administered to small lab rats – in other words, more of the ingredient was being absorbed by the little animals than what we would absorb by using a cosmetic product containing the ingredient.

So… currently there is no definitive proof that Vitamin A ups your risk of skin cancer.  There is also none that it doesn’t.  Huffington Post did another good article in 2011 with information on the subject.

Vitamin A is beneficial in skin care.  It is very effective in minimizing fine lines and smoothing the skin, as well as evening out skin tone and lightening spots.  One way I like to include Vitamin A in my skin care regimen is by using rosehip oil, usually as a night time treatment.  Pat around the eye area, over the face and neck for light hydration and glowing results.  Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil  is one of my faves.  Avocado oil is also high in Vitamin A.

Bottom line?  At this point, since there is no hard scientific evidence either way, I err on the side of caution and do not apply an oil or cream that includes Vitamin A when I plan to spend time directly out in the sun.  I feel that it is ok to use during an average day where you will not be golfing, spending time at the pool/beach, gardening – you get my drift.  If you feel more wary, stick with Vitamin A as a night time treatment.

(There is an affiliate link in this post, so I make a wee bit o’ dough if something is purchased from the link.  I use affiliate links from time to time, only where appropriate, and only with products that I believe in.  Just so you know.)

Image:  Margaret Anne Clarke at, Creative Commons license.


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