This is an ingredient I frequently get asked about, so lets get nerdy again and dive in a little deeper…
Retinol has long been touted as an anti-aging ingredient in many skin lotions, potions, and sunscreens. However, more and more research is emerging about just how unsafe it is, and the controversy alone is enough for Crunchi to blacklist it! You’ll also find this ingredient and its derivatives rate a toxic 9 on the EWG.
What is it?
Retinol is a potent form of synthetic Vitamin A, and can also be found under the name “Retin-A”. When we ingest vitamin A, it has to be converted by our enzymes into its active form, retinoic acid. But Retin-A, or tretinoin, is already retinoic acid, and it binds to our retinoid receptors to elicit various responses in the skin. Vitamin A is such a basic metabolic factor in the brain, endocrine glands, liver and kidneys, that it becomes dangerous to interfere with that when potent synthetic forms are being absorbed into the bloodstream.
A few common derivatives we’ll also touch on today are Retinoic Acid, Retinyl Palmitate, and the broad class of Tretinoins.
We all know that retinol is irritating… thats why it “works”. It irritates the skin and causes the cells of the skin to grow (divide) and die more rapidly, increasing the turnover of cells. This turnover leads to massive inflammation, and the Cosmetic Database also has it linked to a laundry list of health hazards: cancer, developmental and reproductive toxicity, restrictions and warnings, cellular level changes, and organ system toxicity.
Retinyl palmitate has been shown to produce excess reactive oxygen species that can interfere with cellular signaling, cause mutations, lead to cell death, and it may be implicated in cardiovascular disease. It has caused reproductive effects at low doses in one or more animal studies, and it has been shown to be easily absorbed into the skin.
The National Toxicology Program released a report in January 2011 based on a study with mice, concluding that retinyl palmitate and retinoic acid become carcinogenic in sunlight. Subsequently, the EWG issued a statement recommending that manufacturers remove Retinyl Palmitate from all products used on sun-exposed skin. According to FDA scientists, retinyl palmitate breaks down in sunlight to photomutagenic compounds, forming free radicals in the presence of UVA and UVB radiation.
Shocking but true: a clinical trial comparing 0.1% tretinoin cream to placebo was stopped six months before it was supposed to end, because of the unanticipated high number of deaths in the tretinoin group. Although the deaths were statistically significant, the researchers buried the study for four years; when it was finally published, the deaths were attributed to “chance.” ((I don’t know about you, but an increased risk of death from a mere skincare product is something I’d want to know about!))
Lastly, there is a LOT of information available linking high doses of synthetic vitamin A to very, very serious risks during pregnancy for both mama and baby.
You can rest assured that NO Crunchi product will include any form of these ingredients… even with our high performance skincare line getting close to launching! Safety, transparency, and ingredient integrity will always remain at the top of our list and THAT is a beautiful thing!