4 Natural alternatives to Retinol you should use 2024 Guide

What is retinol?

Retinol is a synthetic form of Vitamin A touted by dermatologists for its anti-ageing power.

It’s used to reduce wrinkles, zits and hyperpigmentation by rapidly increases cell turnover.

This leads to thinning of  the upper layers of skin, leading to dryness, redness, flaking, peeling as well as increased light sensitivity.

This is why dermatologists recommend niacinamide for its calming and skin strengthening properties. For some people, niacinamide lessens the drying side effects of the retinol.

However, your skin will still be sensitive from retinol use and other products that previously worked for your skin, may start to sting.

This is a sure sign you have overdone the retinol and need to take a break from it.

retinol before or after moisturizer

This question makes many women switch to retinol alternatives (see below)

It depends on the product, the manufacturer, your skin and the time of day.

What is Granactive Retinoid?

Granactive retinoid is also called hydroxypinacolone retinoate and it’s a lab-made synthetic ingredients called a retinoic acid ester that is derived from Vitamin A. It’s used in products to prevent and reverse the signs of aging and photo-damage.

wrinkle between eyebrows

If you have a deep crease between your eyebrows or two deep vertical frown lines, that make you look like you’re angry all the time, then retinol, hyaluronic acid and a rich moisturizer are most often suggested. These wrinkles are nicknamed ‘ the elevens’.

Natural retinol alternatives

Because traditional retinol has unpleasant side effects, formulators have been busy finding other ways to get consumers their retinol fix, sans the downside.

Fortunately there are gentle natural alternatives with retinol-like results, but without the nasty side effects:

Retinol alternatives for sensitive skin

Here’s  my list of 4 gentle and effective alternatives  – and yes they pair beautifully with other skin must-haves like Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin B3.

They are all plant based, so suitable for vegans and those on the paleo lifestyle.

And if you’re thinking ” There is not much info here on each of these amazing extracts”, that’s because I created a separate page for each. So bookmark this page and then you can come back to it another day.

I’ve written separate articles on each of these, so you, dear reader, can make an informed choice.

1. Bakuchiol or Babchi oil,

If you have oily, flaky skin or dry skin around your eyebrows or nose, then consider the power of Babchi or Bakuchiol in your skincare routine. It comes from tiny seeds that are pressed to release the oil. Lots more info in the main article.

2. Rosehip seed oil

Rosehips are a gorgeous gift from Nature both for birds and our general wellbeing. They contain antioxidants, beta-carotene, (provitamin A), retinoic acid and omega 3 fatty acids. Rosehip oil became famous when an American hippy discovered that it was able to remove/reduce scar tissue. Obviously I use rosehip in my serums. If your skin feels cold to the touch, rosehip may help. If you have indented scars on your nose, crusty dry skin around nose, dehydrated congested skin, then read up on darling rosehip.

3. Cacay Oil

This Amazonian delight is used by me in Empress Elixir. It’s specific to mature, drier skin though, as it is very rich and nutritive. Ideal in Winter for skin what isn’t usually dry in the Summer. If your skin on your face feels tight, this may be needed. If you’ve been using shea butter on your face at night and not seeing results, then switch up to cacay! I’ve written more about it, just click the image to find our more.

cacay oil

4. Hibiscus

Aaaah the flower of summer holidays and island adventures… Hibiscus is used by women in Costa Rica for so many things!

I created a powerful hibiscus extract in my studios using traditional and ancient alchemical processes. I use this precious extract exclusively in Proposal in Paris face cream. Now you can enjoy the sumptuous effects it has on sensitive, dry or mature skin without painful (and expensive!) surgeries, injections or fillers.

Designed for sensitive Celtic skin!

Can you over moisturize your face?

Haha! Does a baby’s skin ever feel tooooo soft or too smooth? Thought not. Your skin will feel delicious, silky, sensual and wonderful when it’s hydrated. But if you apply too much moisturizer all that happens is that the excess slides off your face or wipes off onto your pillow. I often apply a lot on my forehead and then find it running into my eyes. That’s just me though, being an enthusiastic tester!

So if you do pump out a little too much cream from your jar, no biggie. Just use the excess on these other places that show your age:

  • your neck
  • your cleavage (décolleté)
  • the back of your hands

Why is my skin still dry after moisturizing?

I do want to say that if you are using face cream and find your skin isn’t feeling hydrated, plumped and cushiony, it may be that the product you are using sucks.

Most cosmetics are designed for the main purpose of maximizing revenue. Think about it. If ‘they’ cured your skin issue, you would stop buying, use less blah de blah… fewer sales, less profit, unhappy shareholders and CEO is now job hunting.

How mainstream products are designed is by minimizing the cost per unit – this involves using tiny amounts of the good stuff . Making huge batches (5k – 100k units!) Loading it with enough preservatives to sit in a warehouse or brightly lit shelf for 5-7 years. Usually they spend more on the jar and label than what is inside. The models they hire won’t tell you what they really apply to their face…. you can be sure they have ‘other things’ in their secret stash.

wendy gardner

About Me

Wendy Gardner

Skincare specialist helping business women look and feel their best through menopause. 🌺Potent skincare handcrafted with premium organics.🧴✨Trusted Advisor for Introverts, Empaths & HSPs🌌

Diploma in Aromatherapy (ITHMA London, 2003)

Usui Reiki Master.

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