Our Rating: 4 stars

Cherie Dobbs, the founder of Prana, told us that she “learned so much about the skin” when developing a line of anal bleaching products. Now this is one of those lines that can come back and bite you in the bum. But that is not my intention in bringing it up. I genuinely found it reassuring when trying out Prana’ s Reverse A ($48 for 2oz in the shop). After all, Ms. Dobbs would have had to know all about getting the balance right between effective and non-irritating and that’s what I would be looking for with a vitamin A cream.

The thing is that I don’t much care for vitamin A. My skin finds it extremely irritating and drying, plus I am concerned about increased sensitivity to the sun and the controversy around retinyl palmitate and its photosensitivity. Nevertheless, I am frequently asked to recommend vitamin A serums and have recently been carefully trying out a few. I was won over by Osmosis Correct, which is very helpful indeed for lip lines and now, too, by Prana’s Reverse A.

I find Reverse A to be a little too strong for my upper lips. But for the neck, it is doing a great job of smoothing out sun damaged skin. If you have stubborn areas of aging skin or hyperpigmentation, or if you are less sensitive than I am and want a relatively effective over the counter retinal, then this is worth trying out.

Reverse A gets my vote for its natural ingredients and slew of anti-agers. Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant and produces energy in cells and I especially like l-Carnosine, which flushes toxins from the body and may extend the Hayflick Limit (the number of times cells reproduce themselves). NaPCA crops up in a few of Prana’s products and sounds a little like hyaluronic acid (which is also here) in that it Na-PCA it pulls water out of the air to moisturize the skin.

With botanical sage, horsetail and chamomile, Reverse A also has calming effects and may help with broken capillaries. The vitamin A is rounded out with Vitamin B5, E and C. If you are reconciled with DMAE, hailed as both a potent anti-ager and, by one scientist, as increasing fibroblast mortality, there is nothing to dislike in this formula.

Ingredients: Purified Oxygenated Water, Aloe Vera Gel, Glycerin, DMAE, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vitamin B5, I-Carnosine, Vitamin E, Lecithin, Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A), Hyaluronic Acid, NaPCA, Chamomile Extract, Sage Extract, Horsetail Extract, Centella Asiatica Extract, Eyebright, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate and Grape Seed Extract,