, 4 min reading time
, 4 min reading time
Benefits: Promotes skin cell turnover, improves skin tone, helps unclog pores, and helps thicken the dermis to slow down the formation of wrinkles.
Uses: Because retinyl palmitate is the least irritating of all four retinoids (more on that in a minute), it's a great option for almost all skin types and anyone who wants to keep their pores clear and skin youthful. It does still have the potential to be somewhat irritating for those with extremely sensitive skin, however.
While it’s important to ease into things to let your skin gradually acclimate to the ingredient, it can ultimately be used daily.
Works well with: Retinoids have a synergistic effect with antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and ferulic acid. Pairing any retinoid with sunscreen is also important since it may make your skin more susceptible to the sun.
Before we get to the specifics, it's important to talk about the larger category of retinoids in general. There are four commonly used in skincare, all of which are derivatives of vitamin A and have similar effects, aka speeding up cell turnover on the surface of the skin for a smoother, more even texture, while also working on the deeper layers to stimulate collagen production and fight wrinkles.
Just because it’s less effective than its counterparts doesn't mean it's not doing anything for your skin—we are, at the end of the day, still dealing with a retinoid. Like its fellow retinoids, retinyl palmitate acts both on the surface and within deeper layers of the skin.
It causes the cells on the epidermis—the outermost layer of the skin—to rapidly turn over and die. This sounds sinister, but it makes way for new cell growth underneath.
The exfoliating aspects of the ingredient may result in smoother, more radiant skin with less discoloration and an overall more even tone.
Retinoids hinder the breakdown of collagen. It also thickens the epidermis and dermis, which is where wrinkles begin to form.
Retinyl palmitate can help with antioxidant protection of the skin.
Stimulates collagen production:
And besides inhibiting collagen breakdown, it also stimulates new collagen: Once retinyl palmitate is converted to retinoic acid in the skin, it binds to specific receptors in the cells that lead to increased collagen production.
In speeding up cell turnover and acting as an exfoliant, as previously mentioned, it may also help unclog pores and keep them clear, which is why it's often found in acne treatments.
Unlike some super skincare ingredients, products containing retinyl palmitate are available in most beauty and drugstores.
As it is a retinol, retinyl palmitate is easily absorbed by the skin.
It's easy to look at retinoids on a scale of intensity:
If prescription-strength retinoic acid packs a hardcore punch, then retinyl palmitate delivers more of a gentle tap. Retinoic acid is the only form that your skin can utilize, so if you're using it straight up, your skin gets it immediately. Retinyl palmitate, on the other hand, needs to undergo a conversion process. Once it's absorbed into the skin, enzymes convert it to retinoic acid, the biologically active version that has the beneficial effects.
This process reduces its efficacy, which is why it's the least effective of the bunch (retinol and retinaldehyde also get converted to retinoic acid, but it's a more direct process, which makes them more intense). Still, the reduced potency is what makes it so much easier for your complexion to tolerate retinyl palmitate. If you have highly tolerant skin and/or want to see results ASAP, you may want to go for the strong stuff. But, if you're new to retinoids or have sensitive skin, retinyl palmitate is your best bet.