Retinyl Palmitate



Retinyl Palmitate at a glance

  • Combination of retinol and fatty acid palmitic acid
  • Found naturally in skin and is the most abundant form of vitamin A storage in animals
  • Works as an antioxidant, preventing visible signs of ageing

Retinyl Palmitate description

Retinyl palmitate is a 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 (it is the most abundant form of vitamin A storage in animals), where it works as an antioxidant, particularly for helping to protect skin from UV light exposure—though it does not replace the need for sunscreen, and is it not approved by the U.S. FDA as a sunscreen active ingredient. Reports that retinyl palmitate is not a safe ingredient 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. In addition, to date, there is no scientific evidence that retinyl palmitate is a carcinogen in humans. The safety of retinyl palmitate is supported by several accredited organizations, including the independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel, which has ruled several times that retinyl palmitate is safe as currently used in cosmetics. Usage levels of retinyl palmitate typically run from 0.1–0.5%, where it’s often combined with other antioxidant vitamins such as various forms of vitamins C and E.

Retinyl Palmitate references

  • Antioxidants, November 2020
  • International Journal of Toxicology, October 2017
  • Journal of Biomedical Nanotechnology, February 2016, pages 394-403
  • Acta Biochimica Polonica, 2015, pages 201-206
  • Journal of Lipid Research, July 2013, pages 1,731–1,743
  • Clinical Interventions in Aging, December 2006, pages 327-348
  • Journal of Investigative Dermatology, November 2003, pages 1163-1167

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.