Hey friend!

If you don’t know it yet, at Alive & Balanced we’re not into quick-fixes or claims like this: “it-will-make-your-concern-magically-disappear”. We’ve never been supporters of the it-has-to-be-perfect-or-not-at-all mindset.

Instead, we support long term, sustainable lifestyle changes, deep health, and QUALITY rather than quantity when it comes to what you put in and on your body. I want you to know that there is no single product out there that will solve all your problems for the rest of your life. No, such a thing does not exist.

Have you ever considered this: Your own body is the solution. Have you ever considered that if you really listen to your body,  nourish your body and only feed it with quality, that your body is capable of healing and troubleshoot itself?

We can talk more about that on another day. I just wanted to make you aware of our vision so that you know we are very careful when choosing products for our online shop. We don’t sell anything that we don’t use ourselves and we choose the best quality while keeping an eye on the price. We also make a special effort to learn as much as possible about the products we offer.

So, in this blog, I am going to share some knowledge that was shared with me by Stella Ciolli, the founder of SKOON Skincare, about Vitamin A and I am definitely going to add some links to the Vitamin A product that I use. I don’t want you to miss out on any of this information. I feel you can benefit greatly from this and if you are using a Vitamin A product already, kudos for you girl! 

Suret Alive xxx

Credit for the content below goes to Stella Ciolli, owner of SKOON skincare

Benefits of Vitamin A in Skin Care?

 Vitamin A is an all-round superstar, with benefits for almost every skin type and concern. Let’s dive into some of the benefits of this game-changing skincare ingredient!

It helps to clear up acne

Acne happens when your skin doesn’t shed cells from the surface or from the lining of the follicles in the same way normal skin does. This causes cells to build up inside the follicles, thickening the lining and resulting in clogged pores, blackheads, and other impactions. Fear not! Vitamin A is here to help!

Firstly retinoic acid (a form of Vitamin A) is a strong keratolytic (peeling agent) that increases the rate of your skin cell turnover by removing dead cell build-up. This means faster shedding of dead skin cells which in turn means less debris to clog pores.
  Secondly, retinoic acid is an excellent drying agent for oily skin and pimples. Less oil means less clogged pores and less “food” for the bacteria P.Acnes that causes the redness and inflammation associated with acne.

Kick wrinkles to the curb

Collagen is our natural anti-wrinkle molecule – a structural protein that provides strength, flexibility, and resilience to the skin.

Unfortunately, the production of this lovely protein decreases over time and is the main reason why skin becomes less elastic and thinner with age. This, in turn, makes skin more prone to sagging and wrinkling. 

Vitamin A stimulates the skin to produce and organize new collagen bundles. This helps to increase epidermal thickness, tightening of the skin, and reduces that pesky sagging and wrinkling!

Treatment of hyper-pigmentation

In sunny South Africa, pigmentation ranks very high as a skin concern. Our warm climate means lots of time spent in the sun – the result: issues with UV damage and pigmentation.

Fortunately, Vitamin A can help! It inhibits the melanin-producing enzyme tyrosinase, interferes with pigment transfer and, as mentioned earlier, speeds up cell turnover rate through potent exfoliation.

The standard treatment for pigmentation involves a combination of exfoliation of existing stained skin and blocking of melanin production to slow down new pigmentation – making Vitamin A sound like a no-brainer.

However, having looked at existing studies, Stella Ciolli from SKOON. Skincare feels that Vitamin A alone is not a strong enough candidate for the holistic treatment of hyperpigmentation, so, for now, she is giving it an efficacy score of 5+/10 for its pigment reducing properties.

  The “+” allows the score to go up if treatment with Vitamin A is paired with the right ingredients to ramp up efficacy, one of these ingredients being Vitamin C. Read more about the Dream Team if you want this combination.

Reduces the skin’s sebum production – no more 4 o’clock shine!

Maybe you don’t have acne, but still struggle with T-zone shine? Well, you can still benefit from Vitamin A’s ability to reduce oiliness.

(Quick fact: If your skin is oily by 11 a.m., especially if you are not wearing makeup, you officially have oily skin.)
  Vitamin A is able to penetrate the skin and act on the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin by reducing their activity – the perfect skin blotter.

Reduce pore size

Pores are created around the time we hit puberty when sebum (oil) really starts flowing through our follicles. The size of your pores is determined by the amount of oil (also called sebum) that your skin produces. A lot of oil flowing through your follicles will stretch them, resulting in what we call “large pores”. 

This is hereditary, and not caused by anything you’re doing wrong! In addition, your pores also expand due to ageing, as your skin loses its elasticity it stretches and sags, making pores appear larger.

(Quick fact: Pores cannot open or close (or contract – for example like the twitching movement of your muscles.

So, how can Vitamin A help with large pores? You can shrink pore size by making new skin, and the new skin makes new smaller pores. You can help make new skin by exfoliating which gets rid of the top layer of dead skin and stimulates the production of new skin cells.

Being an extremely potent peeling agent, Vitamin A is the perfect candidate for this job – to help your skin with rapid new cell turn over while flushing out debris from your pores.

The last bit is kind of important also. Prevention is better than cure and keeping your follicles clean will prevent them from being stretched in future.

When should I expect to see results?

Vitamin A typically provides results within an 8 -12 week period, so don’t expect overnight results.

For large pores the effect is longer-range and generally takes 6-8 months – this seems really long but when it comes to skin texture refining, patience is the main ingredient.

What are the side effects of Vitamin A application?

Here is the best thing about retinal…it converts to retinoic acid within the skin (read ’till the end to understand this better), so typical adverse reactions as described below are either very mild or completely absent. Yayy!! (PS: Also the reason why we are happy to recommend SKOON RETININ (with retinal) to customers who have sensitive skin).

If you have used either retinol or retinoic acid in the past you may have experienced “retinoid dermatitis,” also referred to as retinoid irritation or retinoid reaction. Vitamin A is a powerful “follicle flusher” and peeling agent and this may cause changes in your skin barrier due to the rapid cell turnover. The knock-on effect is flaking, dry skin, redness and irritation.

With the use of either retinol or retinoc acid, rather start slowly (every 3rd night) and incrementally increase the nightly application frequency.

With SKOON.’s RETININ (retinal) you can start off applying every night and only decrease if you do experience any discomfort. In my experience, adverse effects with topical retinal should be absolutely minimal or none at all.
  Last but not least: BIG NO NO – sorry, no retinoids if you are pregnant or breastfeeding – and this goes for SKOON’s retinal also.

When should I apply products with Vitamin A?

Vitamin A should form part of your evening skincare routine.

SKOON.’s RETININ Retinal 0.1% Resurfacing Cream is a bright yellow and I always imagine it as a bottle of sunshine to keep you company at night. Quite a horror for pristine white pillows, so keeping a separate coverslip might be a handy tip!

Simply smooth a dollop of RETININ Retinal 0.1% resurfacing cream onto clean skin. Remember, at night only. If you have very dry skin, add 1-2 drops of one of our nutrient-rich oil-based concentrates (GlowdropsRosehip C+ or Squalane). Or even a scoop of Ruby Marine Overnight Hydrating Mask.

Broad-spectrum SPF (or a hat) is recommended for day time use when Vitamin A is topically applied at night. This is because your skin can be more sensitive to sunlight due to the stimulation of new cell growth.

Again worth mentioning – RETININ (or any other topical retinoids for that matter) – is not suitable for use during pregnancy.

Which products should I pair with Vitamin A?

Some products simply have a synergy that is off the charts. In the case of Vitamin A it’s the powerful antioxidant, Vitamin C.

I think of these two potent vitamins as the skin’s dream team.

Vitamin C, an antioxidant powerhouse, is perfect for the morning and helps to even out existing splotches and pigmentation while Vitamin A is your collagen-building- sleeping-buddy.

Although a dream team, these two ingredients should not be used at the same time!

Vitamin C is perfect as part of your morning routine and Vitamin A as part of your night time routine. Easy to remember. Good morning, vitamin C! Good night, vitamin A!

Vitamin A myths and misconceptions

Myth 1:
“I’m allergic to retinoids due to red, flaky skin once applied.”

Red, flaky skin, with an increase in sensitivity, is not generally caused by an allergic reaction to Vitamin A but is rather a side effect of this powerful keratolytic’s peeling action on your skin.

Top tips to curb any potential side effects if you add vitamin A to your routine:
Stop using granular scrubs
Eliminate products with a high alcohol content
Go fragrance-free
Don’t use highly stripping cleansers

Myth 2:
“Retinal thins the skin.”

The thinning of the skin by topical retinoids is a common misconception but this particular fact belongs to hydrocortisone since repetitive use of strong cortisone creams can cause thinning of the skin.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have Vitamin A which, in fact, increases cell turnover, formation of new cells and collagen bundles which leaves you with firmer and more resilient skin.

All this talk, but what exactly is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that plays a vital role in the metabolism of skin cells and collagen production.

Let’s start with a word you might have heard before – “retinoids”.

Retinoids is a collective term for Vitamin A and all of its derivatives. You will probably have come across these three which are the most common in skincare:

  • Retinol (over-the-counter version of Vitamin A and you will commonly find in your skincare. )
  • Retinal (over-the-counter version of Vitamin A and you will commonly find in your skincare. )
  • Retinoic acid  (you will need a prescription from your doctor for this)

Why is this important to know?

Well, it’s key because all benefits from the topical application of Vitamin A are linked to this form of Vitamin A, called retinoic acid.

Now you will naturally want to know where retinol and retinal fit in.

Look at this handy little graph to help explain.
 When you apply any over the counter skincare product that contains Vitamin A, topically it first has to undergo conversion processes involving enzymes:

Your product with retinol: Step 1: Your skin converts the Vitamin A in the form of retinol (ROL) first to retinal(RAL).

Your product with retinol: Step 2: Retinal is then converted to retinoic acid (RA) during the second step.


Your SKOON. RETININ: Only Step 2: Retinal(RAL) is converted straight into retinoic acid (RA).

If you look at the flowchart above, you’ll see that retinol(ROL) needs 2 metabolic steps to convert to retinoic acid (RA), and with SKOON.s retinal(RAL), there’s just one quick step to conversion.

What is the difference in percentages between Retinol and Retinal?

Retinol is usually around 1%
Retinal around 0.1 %
and Retinoic acid 0.05%.

It has all to do with how many steps to convert to Retinoic Acid.

Takeaway Fact:

 All forms of Vitamin A or retinoid in skincare (retinol/retinal) must first be converted into retinoic acid before you get the amazing skin benefits for which Vitamin A is deservedly famous! 

Retinal, contained in SKOON.’s RETININ Resurfacing Cream, is only one step away from retinoic acid. Now a difference of one step might not seem like much but it does actually have a big impact, as the second step is a much faster conversion than the first and this makes a huge difference in how quickly you will see results!

Thank you for reading all the way to the end! Our promise is to always choose quality over quantity when we select items for our Online Store.