Selecting your Vitamin A

For retinoids to deliver the results you need to improve or maintain skin health, you have to select the right formula and strength.


Whether you’re looking to smooth texture, boost tone, increase radiance and clarity of your skin or are dealing with skin concerns such as acne, psoriasis, fine lines, wrinkles, melasma or hyperpigmentation rest assured there is a retinoid for you.

We understand that navigating through the plethora of retinoids available can be a minefield,  so here’s a breakdown of the key differences and things to look for when choosing a retinoid product:


Retinoids are very sensitive to light and air therefore they must be stored in opaque, airless packaging to prevent them from breaking down too quickly.  


Micro-encapsulation is the protective technology of enclosing solid, liquid or gas materials into micro particles of other materials (e.g. fats). The more active the material, the more reactive it will be in the environment, so encapsulation prevents degradation. Retinoids are one of the many actives we have in skincare that must be encapsulated - usually in a fat-based material that mimics the natural fats we already have on our skin.

 Encapsulating also reduces any potential irritation as the retinoid is controlled and steadily released to have a more prolonged effect on your skin.


Retinoids come in varying concentrations. If you’re at the start of your retinoid journey, always start with the lowest concentrations before progressing to higher percentages. Prescription strength retinoids are higher in potency even at lower concentrations and they are best saved for skin conditions like cystic acne.


How does the retinol come? The delivery system makes a big difference and personal preference will play a part role in your choice. Oils, cream and water-based serum formulations are gentler than alcohol-based gel or serum formulas.

Also, it’s important to know the different types of retinoids you may find in your Vitamin A product as this will also influence your choice.

 Retinyl Palmitate

Provides the skin with natural antioxidant benefits and low level UV protection. They’re not of much benefit to the skin on their own so they are mainly used as a supporting ingredient.


A commonly used precursor to retinaldehyde and retinoic acid that can be made into a variety of different product strengths which start from 0.01% to 1%.

Retinol Retinoate

A hybrid of retinol and retinoic acid which delivers a shot of retinoic acid whilst the skin slowly converts retinol for later use.


Sometimes also called Retinal has the reputation of being gentle yet powerful on the skin. It requires one conversion process and, is able to directly tackle the Acne bacteria making it popular amongst the breakout-prone and even sensitive skin types.

 Granactive Retinoid

This is the new kid on the block that has a unique ability to bind directly with retinoid receptors in the skin without the need to be converted.

Ethyl Lactyl Retinoate

The first compound that combines two gold-standard skin rejuvenation ingredients - alpha hydroxy acids (AHA’s) and retinoids together to create a brand new retinoid – AlphaRet.

The choice of retinoid in your product can be based on numerous factors but it’s best to pick a product that is suited to your skin type, tolerance and the concerns that need to be addressed. See our quick guide below:

What I love about these Retinals is the flexibility to step up or down at any time depending on what your skin needs. They are great for newbies and experienced users alike!
— Dija Ayodele, Founder of Black Skin Directory
Sensitive or dry skin – take baby steps.

Sensitive or dry skin – take baby steps.

Normal and balanced skin – keep it ticking along.

Normal and balanced skin – keep it ticking along.

Acne blemish prone skin – mop up excess oil.

Acne blemish prone skin – mop up excess oil.

Your skin is well accustomed to Vitamin A!

Your skin is well accustomed to Vitamin A!


If you’re planning to get pregnant, are pregnant and/or breastfeeding vitamin A may cause harm to your child.

If you have more severe skin concerns such as psoriasis or severe acne it’s best to consult a dermatologist for advice on prescription grade retinoids.

Also, you must use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30 daily when using retinoids.