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Toxic Chemical Glossary:
What is Retinyl Palmitate: Chemical Free Living

What is retinyl palmitate?

Retinyl palmitate is a skin-conditioning agent that is commonly found in sunscreens [5][1].

What products is retinyl palmitate in?

Retinyl palmitate is an active chemical ingredient in sunscreen [1].

How to tell if a product has retinyl palmitate

Avoid products that contain retinyl palmitate as well as these synonyms on their ingredient lists: vitamin a palmitate; axerophthol palmitate; hexadecanoate retinol; retinol palmitate; retinol, hexadecanoate; aquasol a; arovit; optovit-a; retinol palmitate [5].

Risks associated with retinyl palmitate

Ironically, individuals who apply retinyl palmitate to their skin (as an ingredient in sunscreen), may actually be increasing their chances of developing skin cancer, tumors, lesions, and melanoma. Additionally, German and Norwegian health agencies along with the FDA have noted that daily application of vitamin A creams could lead to excessive vitamin A intake for pregnant women and other vulnerable populations [5].

Using products that contain retinyl palmitate can lead to a variety of problems. Retinyl palmitate is known to be a human reproductive toxicant according to the FDA [5] but other health issues associated with this ingredient include:

  • Damage to sun-exposed skin [2]
  • Skin cancer [3]
  • Cellular mutations [5]

How to avoid retinyl palmitate

Avoid products that contain retinyl palmitate, vitamin A palmitate, or any synonyms of this ingredient (see above). Since 84% of name-brand sunscreen products fail to offer adequate protection from the sun, you can diminish your exposure to retinyl palmitate by using sunscreen alternatives [4]. If you must go out in the sun, use a toxic chemical free sunscreen that’s mineral based [3].

References:

[1] EWG (2007-2016). The Trouble with Oxybenzone and Other Sunscreen Chemicals. Available online: http://www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/the-trouble-with-sunscreen-chemicals/ December 20, 2016.

[2] Healthy Child Healthy World (2016). Worst Scoring Sunscreens for Kids. http://www.healthychild.org/worst-scoring-sunscreens-for-kids/ December 20, 2016.

[3] Healthy Child Healthy World (2016). Practice Safer Sunscreening. Available online: http://www.healthychild.org/easy-steps/practice-safer-sunscreening/ December 20, 2016.

[4] EWG (2016). CDC: Americans Carry Body Burden of Toxic Sunscreen Chemical. Available online: http://www.ewg.org/news/testimony-official-correspondence/cdc-americans-carry-body-burden-toxic-sunscreen-chemical December 20, 2016.

[5] EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database (2007-2016). Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin A Palmitate). Available online: https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/705545/RETINYL_PALMITATE_(VITAMIN_A_PALMITATE)/ December 21, 2016.

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