My inbox has been flooded with questions about a new anti-aging cream that seems to be all over YouTube and Instagram lately. It’s called A313 and is touted as the “French Beauty Secret that’s Better Than Retin-A”!
People want to know if I’ve heard of it, if I’ve tried it, & if I think it’s better than Retin-A. So while I would love to hop on a plane to France to grab a tube, that wasn’t in the budget so I hopped on Amazon and bought what I can only hope is a similar product.
The description on Amazon was “A313 Vitamin A Pommade (Closest Version to Avibon Available)” and it looks exactly like the product I’ve seen on Instagram & YouTube. I paid $28.99 for a 50 gram tube.
In the videos I’ve watched, people say that A313 contains 3 retinol esters: retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate, and retinyl acetate combined for a total of 200,000 IU per 50 gram tube. The A313 I got contains 200,000 IUs of retinyl palmitate but doesn’t contain retinyl propionate or retinyl acetate. The other ingredients are: Peg 400 (binder, stabilizer, solvent), PEG 4000 (surfactant), & Polysorbate 80 (surfactant/emulsifier) which seems to match up with the ingredients in the videos I’ve watched.
I can’t say that I ended up with the correct product or even an authentic product. . . unfortunately on Amazon none of the A313s available showed an ingredient list. So maybe I do need a trip to France after all!! Nevertheless, I’m going to continue on with the review because I can still look into the ingredients and see if there’s any scientific evidence that they work for anti-aging!
I squeezed a pea sized amount of the pommade out onto my hand and it looks like a thick gel or a semi-sheer ointment. It’s got a heavy, greasy consistency (much like petroleum jelly) that’s not the easiest to spread. It leaves a shiny, sticky film on the skin, and it smells like… glue.
Background on Retinoids
Before we look into the research on this group of Vitamin A derivatives, let’s do a quick refresh on the various retinoids and their effectiveness.
It’s generally accepted that Retin-A (aka tretinoin) is the gold standard of the retinoids. It’s got the most studies over a 35 year period proving it works to thicken the skin and increase collagen production which firms, plumps and reduces wrinkles. Tretinoin or “retinoic acid” is the only retinoid that’s immediately usable by your skin and hits the right retinoid receptors to work its magic. The only drawback is that it can be irritating.
The other retinoids all have much less study, are much less effective, but are also less irritating. That’s because they need to be converted through an oxidation process by your skin into retinoic acid before they can be used. These retinoids require anywhere from a 1-step to a 3-step conversion by the skin before they’re usable.
- Retinaldehyde is closest to tretinoin because it only needs a 1 step conversion. But not all of it is converted into retinoic acid, some is converted into retinol. There’s a pretty good amount of research on retinaldehyde showing it does have an anti-aging effect on the skin with less irritation that tretinoin.
- Retinol is the next step away from tretinoin because it needs a 2-step conversion by the skin before it can be used. There’s a good amount of research showing that retinol is moderately effective compared to tretinoin and also less irritating.
- Retinyl Propionate, Retinyl Palmitate, and Retinyl Acetate are retinol esters that are the furthest away from tretinoin because they need a 3-step conversion in the skin. There’s no good research showing these ingredients are effective for anti-aging, but they are less irritating. And in fact, there’s a study showing that one of them (retinyl propionate) was not effective for anti-aging.
This is a comprehensive paper on Retinoids that includes all the links to studies on each ingredient: Link to Paper
Studies on the Retinol Esters In A313
The only study I could find on the retinol esters was on retinyl propionate alone. It was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 80 subjects for 24 and 48 weeks. It found no statistically significant differences between the retinyl propionate cream and the placebo preparation for skin photoageing. Link to Study
I did find another study done on a combination of ingredients that included retinyl propionate in a cream that also contained niacinamide & a peptide and compared that mixture to prescription 0.02% tretinoin. It was done by Olay & was published in 2010. It was an 8-24 week, randomized, parallel-group study on 196 women. Half used the Olay ProX product twice a day and the other half used tretinoin every other day for 2 weeks and then every day for the remainder. The cosmetic regimen significantly improved wrinkle appearance after 8 weeks relative to tretinoin, with comparable benefits after 24 weeks. The cosmetic regimen was significantly better tolerated than tretinoin through 8 weeks by all measures. Link to Study
Olay Retinol Vs. A313
The Olay ProX line no longer contains retinol but Olay recently released a new Regenerist Retinol 24 line that contains the ingredients used in the study plus retinol.
Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer contains retinol, retinyl propionate, niacinamide, palmitoyl pentapeptide-4, and glycerin which IMHO is a far better and more effective ingredient lineup than the A313 ointment with the 3 retinol esters.
What To Use Instead of A313
If you’re looking for the best retinoid to use for anti-aging, the proven best product is prescription Retin-A (tretinoin). It’s available OTC in Spain, Mexico, India or through a doctors prescription in the US. You can also get it through Curology, an online prescription service.
If your skin can’t take tretinoin or you’re not ready for prescription medication yet the next best things are over-the-counter are Differin or Retinaldehyde.
There are quite a few studies on Retinaldehyde for skin aging and the results have all been positive showing that retinaldehyde exerts similar effects to tretinoin but with less irritation and better overall tolerance.
Differin is Adapalene and there are limited studies on it for anti-aging but those done so far look promising.
I’m using both Differin and Retinaldehyde on my neck since I can’t tolerate Retin-A there. The retinaldehyde product I use is Avene RetrinAL. It’s pricey but works pretty well and is much less irritating than Differin.
Curology Prescription Tretinoin First Month Free! : http://curolo.gy/hotandflashy
A313 Pommade: https://amzn.to/30WQAun (Amazon)
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