Retinol and Its Alternatives

While the ingredient of retinol has become increasingly popular in recent years, it can be a tricky world to enter. With warning labels such as skin irritation or increased sensitivity to the sun, some are much too intimidated by retinol to venture into the many benefits that the ingredient can provide. Here at SLFMKR, we are big fans of everything that retinol can do such as increase cell turnover, increase collagen production, and plump and firm the skin. That being said, we are even bigger fans of some of retinol’s natural alternatives. No matter which is best for you, we have some great recommendations on how to introduce this miracle worker into your skincare routine and maximize the benefits. So let’s dive in!

What is retinol? 

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that is fat soluble which means it is absorbed through fats and oils in the body. While natural levels of retinol are found in food, it can be ingested as a dietary supplement and used in topical skincare products to increase levels. In the context of skincare, where our expertise lies, the super ingredient is used for cellular development and turnover and helps maintain healthy skin. Because retinol boosts cell turnover, its main benefits include clearing acne, filling in fine lines, anti-aging, and unclogging pores. The vitamin helps to boost collagen production which helps to increase the level of thickness of the dermis when it naturally thins due to age, leaving the skin with a plumper and firmer look. All in all, retinol can totally enhance and improve the look of skin at any age whether your skin goal is to reduce acne and acne scarring, help with hyperpigmentation, or to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Some of our favorite retinol products include the Odacité Renewing Serum: Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol and the Mara Algae Retinol Face Oil

So why use an alternative? 

While it’s obvious that retinol can provide the skin with so many amazing benefits, there are some side effects that make the ingredient a little intimidating. Firstly, retinol is not always friendly to those of us with sensitive skin and can cause irritation, redness, dryness, and bumps upon introduction into the regimen. Not to mention, we seriously advise that retinol is not to be used in the morning as it increases sensitivity to UV rays in the skin. Therefore, we have a few recommendations for alternatives for those who haven’t had the best of luck with retinol or who are weary of trying a retinol due to skin sensitivity. 

What can I use instead? 

Research continues to be conducted surrounding alternatives to retinol, but three that are proven to do some of the same heavy lifting are already favorite ingredients of ours. First, carrot seed and sea buckthorn oils are great ingredients to introduce if you are looking for that cellular regeneration component of retinol that the vitamin is so known for. Carrot seed oil, which is derived from the seeds of wild carrots, holds a fair amount of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A which all help with cell turnover. Not to mention, the vitamin A present in carrot seed oil is converted to retinol in the skin naturally. Similarly, sea buckthorn oil has many vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help to produce collagen and promote cell turnover such as carotenes, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Some of our favorites in-store include these magic ingredients include the Ursa Major Golden Hour Recovery Cream (sea buckthorn oil), the Odacité CaR Vital Glow (carrot seed oil), and the Berlin Skin Carrot Seed Serum which happens to feature both ingredients. 

While the two previously mentioned ingredients are great known sources of cell regeneration, one of the most well-known and high-performing retinol alternatives on the market today is bakuchiol. Bakuchiol derives from the babchi plant which is native to China and South Africa. What makes this ingredient so interesting is the fact that it is not a derivative of vitamin A yet still stimulates collagen and elastin production. In fact, this ingredient has been known to provide the same results as retinol without the same drying or irritating side effects. In fact, it can even be used in the daytime as it does not have the same effect as retinol in making the skin more sensitive to sunlight. It is known to be best for all skin types including dry and sensitive and helps to not only increase cell production but lock in hydration. If you’re interested in Bakuchiol, try the Herbivore Moon Fruit 1% Bakuchiol and Peptides Retinol Alternative Serum or the Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum

So what now? 

Now that we have provided a road map to retinol and its alternatives, it is up to you to decide which product can be best suited to you and your skin type since skincare is most effective when molded to the user. So if you’re looking for some natural exfoliation and a brighter complexion, retinol or one of its alternatives might be your next step! With this information, we hope that you have all the resources at your fingertips to make the decision that is best for you, and as always, we’re always here to help!

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