Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beauty Buzz Words:
Retinyl Palmitate

Recently, a comment on an old post brought up a topic that, while not on this summer's hot list, is apparently still making the rounds and confusing people as to what is safe to put on their skin. Common skincare additive retinyl palmitate is in the cross hairs this time, and while I encourage you all to do your own research on this topic if you're concerned, I wanted to share my opinion and findings with everyone here, rather than burying it in the comments of a months-old post.

How many times have you heard the rule of thumb "if you can't pronounce it, don't use/buy/eat it?" This has always made me chuckle because there's a confusing, often hard to pronounce name for just about everything. If someone said "don't ever use dihydrogenmonoxide" you may believe them, but if you followed their directions, you'd die in less than a week (it's water). So while there has been some controversy over the ingredient retinyl palmitate, it's important to explain exactly what it is we're talking about here.

Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A widely used for its antioxidant and cell-regulating properties. It is, according to consumer skincare expert Paula Begoun, one of the skin's primary naturally occurring antioxidants.

Why, then, all the fuss? Well, a couple of years ago the Environmental Working Group released a report claiming that retinyl palmitate had been linked to increased risk of skin cancer.

In truth, it seems the actual scientific community has reached no such conclusion. The FDA's most recently archived information on the ingredient (which it refers to by the alternate name Vitamin A palmitate) says blatantly "There is no evidence that it is carcinogenic."

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee (a group of experts in the study of the interaction of ultraviolet radiation) "there is no scientific evidence to support claims that retinyl palmitate (vitamin A) is a photocarcinogen in humans."

While the FDA continues to investigate the matter, for now, the dermatological community remains convinced that Vitamin A is safe. An independent analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology notes that "there is no convincing evidence to support the notion that retinyl palmitate in sunscreens causes cancer. On the contrary, years of research suggests that retinoids are helpful in reducing your risk for skin cancer."

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