Free shipping on all domestic orders over $39

Retinyl propionate: a treatment for acne but not anti-aging

Is a Solution for:
August 8, 2008 Reviewed by Marta 5 Comments
I have only once used a retinyl (vitamin A) cream and my co-workers dubbed me Mrs Angry on account of the fierce flush to my cheeks. But there is no doubt that retinoids, particularly in prescription creams such as Retin A, are highly efficient at dispatching acne and photodamage (fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. So my antennae are always tuned for a breakthrough invention that is mild enough to keep even my skin calm, yet does its job.

Frustratingly, the milder derivatives such as retinyl palmitate don't work. Retinyl palmitate, which is found in most over-the-counter anti-aging creams, is not absorbed by the skin and is mostly pointless. The other day, however, I came across something with promise: retinyl propionate.

My expectations were especially raised when I found that the scientist who invented Retin A cream is using retinyl propionate in his own range, called Vivant. All the vitamin A esters have to be converted to retinol by the skin in order to work. Vivant claims that retinyl propionate is broken down by the skin's enzymes and converted to pure Vitamin A acid.

Proctor & Gamble's research lab conducted a 12-week study comparing retinol and retinyl propionate, both co-applied with sunscreen. Those using retinyl propionate and sunscreen showed a significant reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and sunspots with no irritation, claims P&G. Conversely, the retinol-sunscreen combination appeared to exacerbate skin irritation and lessened the skin benefits. Wow! Not only is retinyl propionate a more tolerable form of vitamin A, it may even be a better one.

But not so fast. A bit more digging turned up a 1998 study in the UK that followed more than 60 people for 48 weeks after which the researchers declared that retinyl propionate didn't work for photoageing (there was no statistical difference between the skin results of the retin and placebo users). The good news is that the few acne sufferers in the study showed complete recovery.

I went through more than a 100 references on Google and that was the only independent study I could find. So I would say that retinyl propionate may be worth a try if you have acne, but for the wrinkled it may disappoint. I should add that Vivant's Derm-A-Gel also has, in addition to retinyl propionate, niacinamide, an ingredient that is also effective for acne. The niacinamide, along with the kojic acid, might mean that Derm-A-Gel can tackle age spots.

Ingredients in Vivant Derm-A-Gel

Retinyl Propionate, Kojic Acid, Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, Glycine, Fructose, Urea, Niacinamide, Inositol, Lactic Acid

  • June 23, 2010

    by Clara

    I'm using Vivant's products and have had really good luck. For me, the mandelic acid seems to be the magic bullet.

  • January 27, 2009

    by Zoe

    I've been using this product for about two months now. It took awhile, but there is a definite, if modest, improvement in my once pitiful acne situation, including smaller and fewer blackheads!

  • January 5, 2009

    by marta

    The theory is that because it is an exfoliant it is encouraging new, healthy skin to form. There is plenty of clinical evidence that shows that retins work for acne. The potential downside is that it can make skin very sensitive

  • January 4, 2009

    by TheMan370

    I don't get it. How does something like that work?

  • October 17, 2008

    by Non-anti-aging Acne Treatment

    <p>Yes, retinyl propionate may be worth a try if you are facing acne problems but unfortunately, it does not cure the wrinkled apart from it Vivant’s Gel also has niacin-amide ingredient that affects acne a lot. And it is the way of non-anti-aging acne treatment also.</p>

    <p><a href="" rel="nofollow"></a><br />

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below.

My Comment

Add a comment...

-or- Cancel Comment
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More