Combination of retinol (pure vitamin A) and the fatty acid palmitic acid. Research has shown it to be an effective antioxidant when applied to skin.
You may be surprised to learn that retinyl palmitate is found naturally in our skin, where it works as an antioxidant, particularly in regard to helping protect skin from UV light exposure—though it does not replace the need for sunscreen.
Reports that retinyl palmitate increases skin cancer risks are false. They’re based on a study from nearly 20 years ago that has never been reproduced or tested under real-life conditions such as how people use sunscreens that contain this ingredient. The study in question had scientists apply pure retinyl palmitate to the skin of a mice who were bred to get cancer.
As this is an important issue, wanted to share some additional findings to reassure you:
- The Skin Cancer Foundation’s Photobiology Committee states: "There is no scientific evidence that retinyl palmitate causes cancer in humans." and "no published data suggest that topical retinoids increase skin cancer risk."
- The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, in its 2011 peer-reviewed study published in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine stated after reviewing the data "In conclusion, the available evidence from in vitro and animal studies fails to demonstrate convincing evidence indicating that retinyl palmitate imparts an increased risk of skin cancer."
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center also indicated "decades of clinical observations support the notion that retinyl palmitate is safe for use in topical applications such as sunscreens."
References for this information:
Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, April 2013, pages 458-463
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, November 2010, pages 903-906
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, November 2003, pages 1,163-1,167
British Journal of DermatologyDermatology, April 1999, pages 656-660
The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, September 1997, issue 3, pages 301-305