Ingredient Files: Vitamin A, The New Retinoid

Vitamin A (or as I like to call it.. Vitamin Yay!) has quickly become the show-stopping red carpet superstar of cosmeceutical actives.  And with good reason!  Also known as retinol, this multi-tasking vitamin dangles the dual promise of treating acne while anti-ageing skin by smoothing wrinkles, brightening tone and refining texture.  You’ve got it, versatile, good looking and now in a new next-gen revolutionary form for superior results!

Like all superstars, Vitamin A can be a bit of a diva.  Demanding, fickle and reactive.  But that’s ok because although she can be capricious and irritable there is a Vitamin A right for your skin type.  Think of these cosmeceutical celebs like a vitamin oligarch; there’s power at play.  Remember, not all A is created equal.

For any form of Vitamin A to be effective it first needs to be converted to retinoic acid which can then be directly taken up at a cellular level.  Even though this is what can make it difficult to metabolise, this is where those dazzling benefits are able to kick in; from smoother more refined skin to brilliant clarity and acne free.



A+ – what is it and where does it come from?

Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin essential for life.  It plays a main role in our immunity, vision, reproduction not to mention a critical component of cellular growth and differentiation which is key for many of our organs.  For skin it’s an absolute game changer.  Before we get excited at the benefits let’s take a look at the different forms Vitamin A traditionally used in skincare.


Retinyl Palmitate

An early ester form of Vitamin A.   This much milder form needs the help of enzymes to convert to retinoic acid before it can be taken up by cells.  Although weaker, it is an effective way to receive the benefits without the sensitivity, reactivity and the dryness that other forms of Vitamin A like retinol can cause.  This gentler form is still able to effect collagen, redefine texture and target lines.

“Vitamin A plays a main role in our immunity, vision, reproduction not to mention a critical component of cellular growth”

We use it in our WATERLILY Collection to target results in skin types that are often prone to sensitivity, redness or have poor barrier function.  Hero products like WATERLILY Vitamin Repair are a perfect way to strengthen compromised skin prone to sensitivity.



This is the alcohol version of Vitamin A and is much stronger and often comes in prescriptive forms.  It has a shorter conversion pathway to retinoic acid and is more readily available for cells.  While this is a more active form the downside is that it has toxicity concerns and the potential to irritate, sensitise and cause redness.  It is also hard to stabilise, and while sounding like something out of the Vampire Diaries, loses efficacy when exposed to sunlight.

“the downside is that it has toxicity concerns and the potential to irritate, sensitise and cause redness”

Retinol is currently one of the most popular topical retinoids used to date, but its skin irritancy and instability to sunlight has limited its scope and appeal.  This is a form I’ve been reluctant to use in formulations due to the lack of tolerance and compromise in barrier function.  And while retinol esters (retinyl palmitate) are often used to lower the irritation potential and increase stability, the tradeoff is decreased retinoid activity and milder benefits for intense corrective formulations.

So what’s the answer if you want a high performing but stable form of Vitamin A that easily converts to retinoic acid without the irritation?  Can I please have a drum roll…

Enter ‘Novel Retinoid’ stage left.

The next step in Vitamin A chemistry!

Novel Retinoids

Retinoids convert directly to retinoic acid. This next generation technology is a cosmetic grade ester of all-trans retinoic acid.   It delivers a highly advanced form of retinoid which is one of the most bio-available, non prescriptive forms of Vitamin A sold in skincare.  An anti-ageing ingredient delivering the performance of retinol with significantly lower irritation.  Now we’re talking!

“Let us introduce you to our newest cosmeceutical skin hero, the revolutionary Granactive Retinoid”

The new novel retinoid, Granactive Retinoid is a next-generation anti-ageing cosmeceutical, delivering the performance of retinol and retinoid derivatives with significantly lower irritation to support clear, visibly more youthful looking skin without the redness, reactivity or sensitivity.  This is what we’ve all been waiting for. Hurr-AAAAAA!


The ABC’s – how our skin uses it and the benefits

As we age our skin becomes thinner and less elastic, appearing more lined, wrinkled and sagged.  Not exactly a skincare goal.  But wait, there is hope!  Granactive Retinoid is the new form of Vitamin A that actively stimulates the proliferation of new cells and renews skins plumpness, elasticity and hydration.  It also restores skin thickness to help fill in lines and wrinkles while safeguarding against further wrinkles developing.  The only thing missing is the steak knives!

“Granactive Retinoid actively stimulates the proliferation of new cells and renews skins plumpness, elasticity and hydration”

Let’s get our geek on and I’ll explain how.  The mechanism of action of the novel retinoid is advanced compared to retinol derivatives. To interact with retinoid receptors, retinol must first be metabolized to more active forms, such as retinaldehyde and retinoic acid using several enzymatic steps. The novel retinoid is unique in that it processes innate retinoic activity, binding directly with retinoid receptors without the need for metabolic breakdown to more biologically active forms.   Granactive Retinoid was also found to have 10 times better oxidative stability than retinol in thermal stress testing.  Super important as stability is an issue with many of the retinol product currently on the market. 


Amen! – why do I need it?

The benefits of this form of Vitamin A Retinoid are proving it to be one of the most effective ingredients in anti-ageing skin care today.  Here are some of the corrective and age-proofing skin gains.

  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Increase skin elasticity for firmer, smoother texture
  • Increase rate of cellular turnover
  • Reduces the rate of collagen breakdown
  • Improves skin clarity
  • Reduce dark spot and skin imperfections
  • Evens skin tone due to skin cell sloughing and a slowing effect on melanin production
  • Improved brightness and luminosity
  • Reduction in pore size


All Stars – hangs best with…

Vitamin A is fat soluble so this ingredient is at its MVP best in a omega rich fatty acid formulation.  We blend it with other nutrient rich vitamins including tocopherol (Vitamin E) and layer it with our Vitamin C+ serum (a highly concentrated yet pure and stable form of L-Ascorbic Acid).  Because of its action on oxidative stress we like to pair it with other all star antioxidants like resveratrol, essential oils, pomegranate, raspberry and black currant.  Beginning to sound like a vitamin skin perfecting smoothie!  Delicious and nutritious!


Speaking of heroes!

Feeling the FOMO?  The new SPACEUTICALS Super Serum Series combines revolutionary age-proofing clean cosmeceuticals with naturopathic concentrates of premium botanical actives for real skin transformation.  My personal favourite is the new Super Smart, featuring the new Granactive Retinoid.

The Super Smart Wrinkle Rejuvenator is a luxury skin treatment harnessing a revolutionary smart peptide, Heptapeptide-7 with advanced cosmeceuticals of resveratrol and hyaluronic acid in an omega rich anti-ageing vitamin infusion incorporating an advanced active Vitamin A retinoid complex.  The result is a boost in epidermal growth factors and cell regeneration which may visibly reverse wrinkles, activate collagen, increase skin elasticity, smoothness and firmness while defending against oxidative stress, DNA damage, dryness and sensitivity.

Heptapeptide-7  5% – Revolutionary smart peptide activates collagen, production to target wrinkles, increase firmness elasticity, tone while improving texture

Granactive Retinoid 2% – One of the most bio-available, non-prescriptive, low sensitising, highly stable forms of Vitamin A today.

Resveratrol 3% – A skin brightening botanical active that protects and activates collagen production to smooth fine lines and wrinkles.

Hyaluronic Acid 1% –A powerful humectant to retain moisture to boost hydration, smooth fine lines, boost skin luminosity and texture


A-lert – any last words of caution?

Although Granactive Retinoid has lower irritation potential and is better tolerated than retinol it is still advisable to ensure you have a healthy respect for the sun to protect against photo toxicity.   Retinoic acid is also contraindicated during pregnancy and breast feeding.

We are so excited to be formulating with this new ingredient to bring a safer more effective anti-ageing solution to our spa partners.   Next generation age proofing cosmeceuticals intensifying formulations for superior results.

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