Why You Don't Need Retinol

The big kid on the block might be retinol – an animal-derived form of vitamin A that boosts the ability to speed cell turnover and reduce the signs of aging – but it is not the only option for younger, healthier skin.

While studies are mixed, a 2006 study appearing in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health suggested that retinol can increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. (Ref. 1)

Another study – this one out of Norway - found that retinol increased the risk of skin cancer in mice after exposure to the sun. (Ref. 2)

And there lies the biggest problem with retinol.

“Retinol encourages skin cell turnover,” dermatologists Debra Jaliman tells WebMD.com. “This new skin is delicate and should not be exposed to the sun. That is why these ingredients should only be found in products intended for night use.”

Turns out, cosmetic companies aren’t paying a lot of attention to that particular warning, Jaliman says. (Ref. 3)

“It should never be used in the day,” she said, adding that companies are putting it in just about everything, from cleansers to sunscreens, creating the risk for irritated skin in the form of drying, peeling and redness when using a retinol product, and potentially - as the Norway study suggested – skin cancer.

There is also a small risk that retinol absorbed in the skin can be transferred to breast milk, meaning nursing moms should never use retinol creams, the experts at the Mayo Clinic warn. (Ref. 4)

Why all the hype?

So why are so many companies adding retinol to their products without making sure it is safe first?

Companies learn about a new material or determine that an ingredient is popular, and immediately add it to their product, touting it as the next big thing.

Often the amount of the ingredient actually available in the product isn’t enough to make a difference, and often it’s also delivered in such a way that even if there were enough of the particular ingredient available, it wouldn’t have much of an impact, or it may even cause some problems.

Eat up for healthy skin

In reality, healthy skin comes from the inside out, which makes the old cliché “you are what you eat” even more true.

And while retinols put your skin at added risk of damage from the sun’s UV rays, according to a study appearing in the Journal of Nutrition, carotenoids – especially those taken internally such as in our Total Balance formulas, Omega 3 / DHA Plus and Omega 3 / QH Premium CoQ10 – may help support the skin resist this damage. (Ref. 5)

A nutritional supplement containing natural beta-carotene and other natural carotenoids such as lutein and lycopene may protect against harmful UV rays, lowering the risk of skin damage.

Not only that, a 2011 study found that eating a diet packed with beta-carotene can give you a glow that equals time spent catching some rays.

The study from the University of Nottingham in the UK found that those who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables had skin that glowed as much as those who spent time in the sun, without the risk of excessive sun exposure.

“We found that, given the choice between skin colour caused by suntan and skin colour caused by carotenoids, people preferred the carotenoid skin colour, so if you want a healthier and more attractive skin colour, you are better off eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruit and vegetables than lying in the sun,” said Dr. Ian Stephen, who headed the study.

However, don’t forget that the sun is also the best source of vitamin D, so use common sense and get a good dose of sunshine every day but don’t overdo it to the point that your skin starts turning red and sunburnt.

For the best results without retinol, supplement your diet with our Core Wellness sets – Total Balance, Omega-3 fish oil and Kiwi-Klenz, and research our skin careline to find the right products for you. We take our product safety and efficacy very seriously, and our skin care line contains many natural ingredients that provide the same benefits as retinol, without the inherent risks.

You’ll be getting antioxidants that will go to work naturally and effectively to fight free radicals from the inside out and the outside in, giving the damaged cells less opportunity to cause the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and other signs associated with aging.


  1. http://www.bastyrcenter.org/content/view/410/
  2. http://www.english.vkm.no/eway/default.aspx?pid=278&trg=Content_6575&Main_6359=6575:0:31,2558&Content_6575=6393:1851790::0:6464:3:::0:0
  3. http://blogs.webmd.com/healthy-skin/2011/08/retinol-when-to-use-it-and-when-to-avoid-it.html
  4. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-a/safety/hrb-20060201
  5. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110111133224.htm

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