Retinol (Vitamin A) with BHA, BHT (for stable the Vit. A).

I am new with this Retinol (Vitamin A) ingredient. Most of manufacturers use BHA and BHT antioxidant for stabilizing the retinol.
What are BHA and BHT? Are they good for skin?
Retinol is stimulating the new cells?

Thanks  in advance for all inputs.


  • A quick google search will give you some info on these ingredients - even wikipedia.
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @JonahRay It’s rank 4 for safety 
  • DtdangDtdang Member
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    The CIR summary...

    There is no such thing as an accurate "safety rating."  The ranking put out by the EWG is a fairy tale.

    If you are putting retinol in your skin product to stimulate cell growth, that would make it an illegal drug.

    Here is an article relevant to vitamin A for treating skin. These authors find a benefit but they do not list what their vehicle comparison was so it doesn't answer the obvious does vitamin A compare to a standard lotion with Petrolatum, Glycerin, and mineral oil?

  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @Perry thank you so much.
    There are facial cream products that are formulated with retinol. Is that illegal?
    I plan to use retinol but no claim about stimulating cell growth, but just fading the wrinkles. That is OK? 
    After adding retinol into formula (arbutin + ascorbic acid), it seem to improve the performance of the cream on fading the dark spots and wrinkles. Now, just for fun, the samples were given to friends. Next I will try to adding B3.

    Thanks for previous and present articles that help me understanding the dark spots...
    @Perry, would you like to have sample? I would like to send you one.

  • You are clearly asking for problems when mixing retinol, LAA and arbutin. Focus on one ingredient. It’s difficult enough to create a stable, safe, and well performing product with one active. The industry doesn’t do it not because they are stupid, but because it’s not safe/effective/feasible for some other reason.
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    Earlier I have many problems. But now, So far I don’t have any problem for formulation , stable. For Safety I do not use any ingredients ranked > 2
    all active ingredients should be added under 30C. Retinol that I used is without BHT and BHA
    very effective for fading dark spots, wrinkles firm. 
    PH > = 6 if under 6 there is irritation due to partial of vitamin A&B becoming acid 

    SDS and technical document from manufacturer is very important 
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @ngarayeva001 thanks a lot
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @ngarayeva001 for selecting oils I choose the one with less oleic and higher essential fatty acid 
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    before adding retinol & vitamin B3, make sure pH is >= 6 . 
    PH of retinol & B3 is always > 7 from manufacturers. 

  • DtdangDtdang Member
    I hate to using NaOH 
    therefore I always choose the ingredients having the pH >5 but the final pH must be greater than or equal to 6
  • PerryPerry Administrator, Professional Chemist
    edited July 2019
    I'd just like to reiterate that "safety ratings" are a fairy tale. Just because you only use ingredients with a safety rating < 3 does not mean your product is safe.  Dose matters.
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @Perry thanks. that makes sense 
  • There is nothing really wrong with NaOH but if you don’t like it, you can use triethanolamine instead (TEA).
  • To your question, the amount matters. BHT is safe when used at % recommended by supplier(0.1% max). EWG is a fraud. If you see a reference to EWG in the article you can be sure the author isn’t a chemist and have no idea what they are talking about.

  • @Perry, It is my understanding  that replacing oils to esters eliminates the need in antioxidants? Am I right?
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @ngarayeva001, what do you mean replacing oils with ester to eliminate the need in antioxidants? Please give me example.
    Thanks in advance
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @ngarayeva001, Triethanolamine is used in many cosmetic products to help balance pH levels, as well as to act as a cleansing base. When absorbed into the body over a long period of time, it can become toxic. Even short periods of exposure can cause allergic reactions, including eye problems and dry hair and skin.Jan 5, 2015

    That what I google it.
  • You need antioxidant to prevent oils from going rancid. Mineral oil, petrolatum, hydrogenated polyisobutene do not go rancid. As per my understanding (subject to confirmation by chemists) esters don't oxidize either. So, no vegetable oil, no problem.
  • Re: Triethanolomine, you know if you google really hard you can find a couple of articles that would state that water causes cancer. Not all sources are equal.

    Both TEA and NaOH are safe to elevate pH. It's just the matter of your preference which one to use. NaOH is stronger base and you need less. But you can buy a tiny bottle of TEA on makingcosmetics and that will last you for ages, while you usually can't buy less than 500 gr of NaOH, because people buy it to make soap and you need quite a lot (it makes no sense to sell 30 gr of NaOH). So, if you are making soap and have NaOH at your disposal, continue using it. 
    And by the way, anecdotal evidence but just saying, the majority of Lush's moisturisers are emulsified with TEA-stearate. I guess that since they are still in business and no one in the US managed to file a class action lawsuit for selling "toxic" cosmetics, it gives a hope that TEA is not "that toxic"...
  • DtdangDtdang Member
    @ngarayeva001 thank you.
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    An ester can oxidize (or undergo rancidification) if it has as part of its chemical structure an unsaturated hydrocarbon chain.  Being an ester in and of itself does not mean it cannot go rancid.  
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • Thank you for clarification @MarkBroussard. I can see C=C bonds in the benzoic acid part of C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate. Does it mean it's unsaturated, or I am over simplifying it? Is there a simple way to tell which ester is unsaturated? Small suppliers usually don't disclose much and I can't find fatty acid profiles for esters online. There are plenty for vegetable oils...
  • MarkBroussardMarkBroussard Member, Professional Chemist
    Just Google for the chemical structure of the compound you are interested in ... virtually all of them are posted on-line.  C=C bonds in benzene rings are very stable.  It's the C=C bonds in straight chain hydrocarbon moities that are more reactive to oxygen and the formation of lipid peroxidases.
    Chemist/Microbiologist formulating in the Organic & Naturals arena under ECOCert/Natural Products Assn/Whole Foods/National Organic Program guidelines focused skincare & haircare products. 

    See website for details
  • Got it! Thank you.
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