Retinoids as dermatological agents are effective against acne, psoriasis, skin aging, and other skin conditions. However, their susceptibility to degradation is a limiting factor for their widespread use.
Within this study, we aimed to provide comprehensive and evidence‐based information on retinoid stability and degradation kinetics in commercial cosmetics, focusing on different factors affecting their stability.
A validated HPLC‐UV methodology was utilized for determination of the most common retinoids in cosmetics (retinol, retinyl palmitate, β‐carotene) and a newer promising retinoid (hydroxypinacolone retinoate). The stability of 16 retinoid derivatives in 12 commercial cosmetics was evaluated within 6 months of long‐term and accelerated stability testing in addition to a one‐week photostability study. Retinoid degradation in the tested formulations followed first‐order kinetics, which was further applied to shelf‐life prediction.
Long‐term and accelerated stability testing revealed retinoid instabilities in almost all products, resulting in a 0%‐80% decline after 6 months at 25°C and a 40%‐100% decline at 40°C, which were kinetically evaluated. Light degradation was more pronounced than temperature‐induced degradation. Among the studied retinoids, the stability of the newer hydroxypinacolone retinoate was the most prominent. This study also identifies correlations between retinoid concentrations, price, formulation, and their stability in cosmetics.
Retinoid instabilities were formulation‐dependent and associated with lower contents than declared in some cosmetics. Retinoid chemical stability and physical stability in topical formulations need to be evaluated by real‐time stability studies, instead of the more frequently used accelerated stability studies.