Myths surrounding retinol, the truth explained

There is a lot of hype surrounding retinol (vitamin A), and its ability to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fade dark spots, and improve skin’s overall radiance… and yet, it remains a source of much confusion for many. Dr Des Fernandes, Founder and Scientific Director of Environ Skin Care, was the first to use vitamin A in the 1980s in high enough doses to help counteract the harmful effects of the environment, pollution and stress to create a radiant, visibly improved skin appearance. Today it is still the cornerstone ingredient in Environ Skin Care products. 

 Fernandes says, “It is an essential skin nutrient that has to be replenished every day for skin to appear healthier and more resilient.” Here are some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding retinol – and the truth behind them. 

 Myth 1: Retinol and retinoic acid is the same thing Both retinol and retinoic acid are derivatives of vitamin A, an essential nutrient that occurs naturally in the body and plays an important role in restoring and maintaining DNA damage. Although retinol and retinoic acid ultimately deliver the same benefit, they differ in their chemical structure. Retinoic acid is the active form of vitamin A. It is scientifically known to affect gene expression and result in enhanced collagen production. The appearance of a smoother and more even-toned complexion, and fewer lines and wrinkles. Retinoic acid is available on prescription only, whereas Retinol can be found in cosmetics. The skin naturally converts retinol into retinoic acid at a cellular level, making retinol a gentler but equally effective option.


Myth 2: The percentage of retinol is an indication of concentration and efficacy Vitamin A is scientifically measured in international units (IU) per gram. The recommended effective dose in topical skin care products range from 500 IU to 50 000 IU. When retinol is claimed as a percentage in a product, this normally indicates the weight of the retinol in proportion to the total formula, which can be misleading. Just a fraction of 1% retinoic acid (most active form) can be much more powerful than 2% retinol, but 1000 IU retinoic acid will produce exactly the same effects as 1000 IU retinol despite the vast difference in their weight and % rating in a formula. Once your skin has become accustomed to increasing levels of vitamin A with Environ’s unique Vitamin STEP-UP SYSTEMTM, you can take it a step further and add Environ’s Focus CareTM Youth+ Retinol Serums from level 1 – 3 which contain the highest permissible doses of retinol plus other forms of vitamin A to step up the skin care benefits in the safest, most effective way possible. Dr Des Fernandes explains more:

Myth 3: You can’t use Retinol alongside an AHA chemical exfoliant There is no reason why you can’t use both Retinol and AHAs in your skincare routine. In fact, scientific studies have shown that combining the use of retinol with AHAs could actually improve the effects of both ingredients. AHAs assist to slough off the top layer of dead skin cells to reveal new cells underneath, while retinol works to normalise the skin to look healthy and radiant.

Myth 4: Retinol is only good for fine lines and wrinkles As well as smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, consistent use of retinol over time will help to fade the appearance of dark spots, enhance your skin’s radiance, minimize the appearance of pores and refine your skin’s texture, and even help fight breakouts. The reason why this powerhouse active is able to tackle just about every beauty concern is because it is scientifically known to work to normalise skin cell differentiation and increase collagen production for your most beautiful, healthy-looking skin.