What Are Cell Receptors?
Think of them like receptionists for the different cells in the skin. There are a finite number of receptors in the skin and each has a different function. When an active ingredient is introduced to the surface of the skin, the skin sends these receptors up to greet and guide the ingredient in the right direction. If the ingredient is harmful, inflammatory or not recognized it will not be escorted anywhere. Rather, the skin will try to get rid of it. If the ingredient is recognized as beneficial, it will be welcomed and directed accordingly. However, the skin only has so many receptors for any given function, so after they are all “busy” the remaining active ingredients are either stored for later use or forced to wait on the surface of the skin. This leads us to cell receptor fatigue.
When the cell receptors get overwhelmed by too many molecules of any one active ingredient, they get fatigued. This means that the remaining ingredient molecules are left on the surface of the skin. Depending on the active ingredient, this can cause topical irritation. Some ingredients are recognized by the skin’s storage receptors (receptors that take the extra molecules and store them appropriately for later use.) A good example of the use of storage receptors is found in topical Vitamin A.
The Importance of Storage Receptors and Vitamin A:
Vitamin A is one of the most efficacious ingredients used in skincare today. I’ve mentioned Vitamin A many times, and explained the importance of choosing the correct form of the vitamin in skincare. The biggest reason I prefer to use Retinaldehyde over Retinol or Retinoic Acid is due to storage receptors. The skin actually has storage receptor cells that recognize retinaldehyde. When the receptors are completely busy with their fair share of retinaldehyde, storage receptors come along and escort the remaining ingredient to local fat cells, where they patiently wait for the next crop of receptors to become available. The skin has NO storage receptors for retinol or retinoic acid. That means that these two ingredients will be left to fend for themselves on the surface of the skin when cell receptors are full. Leaving vitamin A on the surface of the skin creates inflammation and sun sensitivity. That’s why most retinol or retinoic acid products and prescriptions recommend strong sun protection and warn users to refrain from overexposure. That’s also why skin can become red, brittle and sensitive with retinol or retinoic aicd use. The key with active ingredients is in delivering them to the dermal layer where they can benefit the skin. Active ingredients sitting o the skin’s surface can backfire in the results department.
You can find retinaldehyde in Osmosis Active Serums: Calm, Clarify, Correct and more…