Is retinol the ultimate anti-aging ingredient? Lars Fredriksson thinks so

Lars Fredriksson wants to talk about retinol. To describe the founder of Swedish skin-care brand Verso (it means reverse in Latin) as an enthusiast of the ingredient (a vitamin A derivative) is an understatement.

Fredriksson is such a disciple (he describes as the gold standard of anti-aging ingredients) he ditched his career in finance to create the line of super-charged retinol-based products. And they’re so super-charged he claims they deliver eight times the benefit of regular retinol products. TMM sat down with him to hear all about it.

TMM: What is retinol?
LF: “Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and is one of the few ingredients that really has scientifically proven effects to improve the skin. I used to say, that even if you speak to the most pessimistic doctor, who would say that no topical product would improve your skin, in terms of preventing aging they would say: ‘except for vitamin A’, because vitamin A has great properties that have the ability to improve the skin.”

How exactly does retinol assist with anti-aging?
“It changes your skin’s behaviour. It has the ability to make your skin cells behave like younger cells. It improves collagen, elastin, it increases cell turnover and in turn you see an improvement of fine lines, pigmentation… the general quality of skin and the complexion is improved.”

Our understanding is that one should use retinol-heavy products at night only. Is this correct? “I don’t think so. Previously we always thought that vitamin A should not be used during the day because it’s very sensitive to UV. I think you can definitely use retinol during the day as long as you use a sunscreen on top.” [Editors’ note: MECCA experts recommend you use sunscreen every day, whether you are using retinol or not. In regards to the suitability of retinol for daytime use, most brands opt to use retinol in night time products because that’s when the body is naturally regenerating and repairing, so the benefits of retinol are easily maximised. Also, it’s a fact that UV rays destroy retinol so unless you wear sunscreen over the retinol its benefits will be diminished. The good news is, Verso’s patented Retinol-8 is able to remain stable and effective even with exposure to UV light.]

How did you become interested in skin?
“By coincidence! This goes back 25 years ago—I’m not a doctor, a chemist, a scientist, I did business school. I was at a premiere party (my wife used to be a musical artist) and I met a gentleman who was in the skin-care industry and that’s how it all started.”

What was the attraction to working with retinol over another skin care ingredient?
“I think it goes back to who I’ve been working with and who I’ve looked up to in terms of professors and doctors, who taught me that things that are scientifically proven work, and vitamin A is one of those ingredients. When we started looking at the Retinol 8 technology we use in Verso (a patented vitamin A substance that’s eight times more potent—and effective—than regular retinol) it was fascinating because we were able to have all the efficacy of this ingredient with a lot less irritation which means that people who have sensitive skin can use it. People who can’t tolerate traditional vitamin A, can use Verso and can benefit from all the positive effects of Retinol 8 minus any irritation.”

Tell us about your new hydration serum?
“Most products in the Verso range contain vitamin A, and one of the main things vitamin A does is speed up the skin cell turnover, which means the hydration part doesn’t really happen at the same speed, especially when it’s dry and cold outside, so you need extra hydration. We began to look at how we can meet that need which is why we created this product. One key ingredient in this serum, that I like very much, and we use in other Verso products as well, is Vitamin B3—it’s called Niacidamite and has some great benefits to the skin, one of which is to protect and build moisture in the skin, so we use a very highly concentrated formula that allows for improved hydration over time.”

Do you think women in Australia have different skin to those in Sweden?
“There’s one big difference and that is that you have a lot more sun [in Australia], due to that you are so much more aware of using sunscreen. You have to remember that for many months in Sweden we barely get any sun. I can see similarities [with the Swedes though] when it comes to skin care, Australian women don’t overdo things, they keep their skin-care routines quite simple compared to say, the Korean routine which is all about multiple steps and lots of layering.”

Words by Emily Deacon
March 2018


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