Topical application of retinyl palmitate is a pragmatic strategy for loading the skin with retinol (vitamin A). Cosmetic formulations containing retinyl palmitate are substantially more stable than those containing retinol. Furthermore, retinyl palmitate readily penetrates into the epidermis and dermis...
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, the cosmetic industry’s selfgoverning body for evaluating the safety of cosmetic ingredients, concluded a review of safety data for retinol and retinyl palmitate in 1987. The CIR Expert Panel found that retinol and retinyl palmitate were safe as cosmetic ingredients in the practices of use and concentration ranges used (up to 13%) at that time.
The increasing use of retinyl palmitate and retinol in cosmetic products has raised concerns about potential developmental toxicity. Recently, it has been reported that topical application of retinol does not result in changes in constitutive plasma levels of retinol and, therefore, does not increase the risk for developmental toxicity .
A second risk associated with topical exposure to retinoids is enhancement of photocarcinogenesis. Experimental studies have indicated that topically applied retinoic acid can, under some conditions of testing, enhance photocarcinogenesis. The effects of topically applied retinol or retinyl palmitate on photocarcinogenesis have not yet been evaluated.