Carrots contain the plant form of vitamin A. (Photo by John-Morgan)
This post is the rather surprising conclusion of my topical retinol experiment.
For the past six months, I've used retinol, a form of vitamin A, on the left side of my face. The idea was to see whether it improves fine wrinkles and increases collagen production like at least one study suggests.
I have to admit I haven't seen much in terms of skin quality during these six months. I don't really have wrinkles at this age, but the fine lines on my forehead and the small crow's feet next to my eyes are still there.
I don't doubt the quality of the product, however. Applying the cream on my face gives a slight tinge, and afterwards there is a small but notable peeling effect. This peeling effect is behind the effectiveness of stronger forms of vitamin A, like tretinoin. Retinol is not supposed to cause peeling, but at least the 2% cream I used seemed to do so.
The surprise is that I have grown a few new hairs on my left temple. Even though I have experimented with and reported on various substances that are supposed to grow hair, this experiment was not supposed to be about growing hair. It happened by accident.
I'm pretty sure my hairline has always been where it is now, and no hair has ever grown where these new hairs are suddenly sprouting up. I'm not sure yet whether they're vellus hairs or terminal hairs, but it seems they're still growing.
I attempted to capture the whole thing with a camera. The result is not that great, but you can see the areas where the 3-4 new hairs are growing from circled with red.
On the right temple where no retinol was applied, no new hair is growing, so I think it's safe to conclude that the hair growth effect is due to the retinol cream. If you've read the blog before, you know that this is not my usual conclusion (for examples, see the conclusions to my MSM experiment and biotin experiment).
As you can see, it's very modest: only a couple of new hairs are growing and you kind of have to zoom in to even see it. Still, I find the result interesting, since it proves that retinol is absorbed and does something to the skin. It's effect on wrinkles may be too small to notice, but it's effect on hair growth is visible.
Especially strange is that, as far as I know, this is not a part of the skin where hair used to grow and is now growing again, but a part of the skin where hair has never grown.
If you're bald, I doubt retinol cream alone will grow you a new set of hair. Nonetheless, I think these results warrant further studies on how different forms of vitamin A affect hair growth. I'm probably going to give tretinoin a go next to see whether the stronger stuff has a stronger effect.
I would like to see these results replicated in other people, so if you've tried retinol or tretinoin, do drop a comment and tell about your experience!
For more information on hair growth, see these posts:
1,000-8,000 mg of MSM Has No Effect on Hair & Nail Growth - Experiment Conclusion
Green Tea Extract Grows Hair in Vitro, May Work in Vivo
Nature's Hair Growth Medicines: Korean Red Ginseng vs. Tea Tree Oil
Vitamin E Tocotrienols May Grow Hair in Humans