I’ve been using this Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum and really like it, so thought I’d try and make a bit more sense of the retinol debate! Some people absolutely love it, while others choose to avoid.
The Retinoid Family
Retinol is actually part of the Retinoid family, of which all are derived from Vitamin A.
Vitamin A/Retinol is very often referred to as the best anti-ageing skincare ingredient due to it’s ability to soften fine lines, improve skin texture, increase collagen production and reduce pigmentation.
Retinoids were originally – and still are – a treatment for acne; they can help to control oil as well as help with skin texture and scarring. Creams for this are usually only available by prescription and will be Retinoic Acid or Tretinoin – these are the most potent form but also known for their irritation and can dry skin out a lot – hence the prescription and regular monitoring.
The skincare you can buy without prescription will contain Retinol or Retinol Esters such as Retinyl palmitate. These have to then be converted by the skin into Retinoic Acid so therefore take longer to have an effect but are also gentler. The Esters take longer to convert than the retinol so are usually the gentlest options – usually more for antioxidant benefits.
While Retinol can have great benefits for the skin, it does also come with side effects. It can be drying and irritating to the skin, so it is best to build up your tolerance slowly – starting with a low % once a week and then gradually build it up. Always wear sunscreen too as it can make skin more sensitive to the sun. Apply your retinol at night but not on the same night as other active products.
I read that there are over 4000 members of the retinoid family so it can get confusing!! Retinoids in skincare are usually synthesised. There is debate to their safety, retinol is actually quite an unstable ingredient. I took this quote from a blog post that the wonderful Pedro Catalá from Twelve Beauty wrote about retinol –
“At the end of 2016, the European Scientific Committee that monitors the safety of skincare ingredients on the market limited the use of retinol because of its potential toxicity due to this instability. A warning was issued stating that if used in the wrong concentrations or if it is not formulated in the correct way, retinol can cause skin irritation and adverse reactions.”
I understand the concern and caution with retinol and really advise researching yourself. Ask brands for advice and about their formulations. Definitely take care when trying – only introduce one new product at a time.
Natural Plant Sources
While many lovely plant oils are said to contain high levels of Vitamin A, it’s often in the form of Beta-Carotene that the body actually has to then convert into Vitamin A. Yes of course this is wonderful for the skin, and can help with skin cell turnover and collagen production, however the effects will be slower than a synthesised retinol. You of course won’t get the side effects though.
With a tendency to be a bit sensitive, I’ve always been a bit wary of retinol. However as I’ve progressed in years, I’ve started to become more interested!!
I was going to start dabbling with them, but then BYBI’s Bakuchiol booster came along which I used and loved – Bakuchiol is not a retinol but a ‘softer’ natural plant based alternative that is claimed to be able to give the effects of a retinol, without the side effects. My skin certainly liked it – it wasn’t an over night effect, more of a cumulative effect – my skin just looked healthier than it had for a while, and I noticed when I stopped using it. I’d recommend it for sure.
Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum
I was recently given this Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum when I did my skin training at Relax London, and I love it.
It contains Granactive Retinoid (Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate). This is a Retinoic Ester, and is bioavailable in its current state – this means the skin doesn’t need to convert it, like it does a retinol for example, so therefore is more potent, but because it is an ester, it’s more gentle.
It also contains hydrating ingredients like Sodium Hyaluronate, Aloe, Oat Beta Glucan and Phyto Ceramide.
Ingredients – Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Glycerin, Oat Beta-Glucan, Hydrolyzed Soybean Palmitate (Phytoceramide), Acetyl Glucosamine, Sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Phenethyl Alcohol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethylhexyl Glycerin, Stearyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Peel Oil, Citric Acid
This serum is vegan.
I find it does make a difference to my skin, it just makes it better – it feels smoother and like I’ve had better sleep!
I built up my usage slowly and now use every other night, but I’ve never felt any sensitivity with it. I probably could use every night but I feel like I need a hydrating serum too. This Vitamin A serum doesn’t dry me out, but I’m not sure it gives me completely enough hydration – I’ve found my skin needs a hydrating serum quite regularly.
I would get it again, I’m also keen to try their Vitamin C serum! Has anyone else tried this Vitamin A Serum? What are your thoughts on retinol?