Why Would UrbanSkin RX Add Retinol to a Dark Spot Treatment?

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Well, we’ll be honest here, we can’t break into UrbanSkin RX and make them tell us. The people who would know for sure would be the founder, Rachel Roff, her formulators and God. Good thing we know God on a first name basis… LOL, all jokes aside, although we probably won’t ever know the exact reason why retinol is being used in UrbanSkinRX’s dark spot formula (erhmm, unless we talk to Rachel Roff) we can do some research to answer the question we really want to know:


Can retinol fade dark spots…and if so, how?


Here’s what the research says…

The ingredients found in UrbanSkinRX, retinol and retinyl palmitate, are types of retinoids. Retinoids are a family of chemical compounds derived from vitamin A known to treat acne, wrinkles, and signs of aging. There’s many types of retinoids out on the market, so we’ll list a few of them here in the order of most potent to least:

Most Potent, Prescription (Natural) Retinoid

  1. Tretinoin (Retinoic Acid) or Retin-A is the most potent non-synthetic retinoid and is only available via prescription. It was reported in 1969 that topical tretinoin was effective in treating acne vulgaris, principally by preventing and dislodging comedones.

Less Potent, Over-the-Counter Retinoids

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These are all derivatives of tretinoin that must be broken down into tretinoin before your skin can use them. Retinyl Palmitate is the weakest of the three. However, don’t be fooled. Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate and Retinaldehyde are weaker compared to tretinoin (retinoic acid) but they still get the job done. Go with the strongest retinoid you can tolerate with the least amount of irritation, even if that retinoid is considered weak.

  1. Retinaldehyde

  2. Retinol

  3. Retinyl palmitate


Although retinoids were primarily used to treat acne and wrinkles, researchers later discovered topical tretinoin has clinical potential in a variety of skin disorders, including anti-aging, reducing scarring and anti-tumor effects in a number of basal cell cancers. Leading to the discovery that retinoids have the ability to even pigmentation in three ways:

  1. Retinoids aid in helping your skin slough off dead skin cells.

  2. Retinoids upregulate cell turnover of superficial skin cells and collagen production.

  3. Topical retinoids reduce dead skin thickening and allows enhanced product penetration

As you can probably now imagine, retinoids help to fade dark spots in a way similar to exfoliation. They help to rid dead skin cells and reveal new, healthy skin cells. Retinoids also help to increase product penetration, which could serve well in UrbanSkinRX’s dark spot treatment filled with a cocktail of skin brightening agents. There are many stand alone over-the-counter retinoid products you can use to treat any of these issues. Natural tretinoin and its derivatives have the ability to treat all of these issues. A major key to using natural retinoids is finding a strength your skin can tolerate.

Retinyl palmitate, retinol, and retinaldehyde are available over-the-counter. Tretinoin is available via prescription only. How else are they different outside of potency?


  1. Over-the-counter retinoids are usually much gentler on the skin than tretinoin. Tretinoin can cause major irritation, redness, peeling and flaking. Retinols can as well, I’ve experienced it using UrbanSkinRx, but decreasing the number of times I used the product each week helped tremendously. If you have sensitive skin use a low strength retinol as a test first.

  2. The body has to break down retinyl palmitate, retinol, and retinaldehyde before your skin can reap the benefits; which is why they’re less potent in comparison to tretinoin. When you apply a product with tretinoin (ex. Retin-A), your skin is able to use it immediately because it's already in a form your skin can readily use. However, if you use a product with retinol (ex. UrbanSkinRx), the retinol first has to be converted into retinaldehyde; and then the retinaldehyde has to be converted to tretinoin before your skin can actually use it. With each conversion step, there is some uncertainty as to how much of the retinoid was actually converted in the oxidation process (i.e. the retinol may not be 100% converted into retinoic acid).

  3. Prescription retinoids can reap faster results and are more effective for treating wrinkles. To give you a frame of reference, on average it take 8 to 12 weeks to see results with tretinoin, it take 12 to 24 weeks to see results with retinol. However, speed does not outweigh potential irritation, skin sensitivity or skin damage due to dryness. Dryness can cause hyper-pigmentation too, y’all. You have to be able to use your product regularly. Slow and steady still wins the race.