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The Ultimate Guide to Natural Retinols

Bakuchiol, rosehip oil, carotenoids—do they really work?



hen it comes to skincare, retinoids are king. They are often used in prescription retinoid medications like tretinoin (Retin-A) and over-the-counter products like retinol. The powerhouse ingredient stimulates collagen and promotes cell turnover, which can improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and acne. As we age, our skin becomes more frail and thin, leading to wrinkles, sun spots, and other signs of visible skin damage. Retinoids are effective because they change how a cell functions, specifically the speed at which a cell turns over or divides, to create new cells by encouraging skin cells to divide more rapidly, building up the protective top layer of skin. However, the miracle of it all comes at a cost—red, dry, and flaky skin.

Enter: natural retinol alternatives

Natural retinols are derived from plant-based sources, such as bakuchiol (from the babchi plant), beta-carotene (found in vegetables like carrots), and rosehip oil. Natural, or bio retinols are less likely to cause skin irritation, dryness, and peeling than their synthetic counterparts, but how effective are they when it comes to tackling wrinkles?

In a randomized, double-blind, 12-week study, 44 women were asked to apply either bakuchiol 0·5% cream twice daily or retinol 0·5% cream daily. Bakuchiol and retinol both significantly decreased wrinkle surface area and hyperpigmentation, with no statistical difference between the compounds. However, retinol users reported irritation and side effects, including facial skin scaling and stinging. In fact, bakuchiol (used in our Seasonally Active Serum) was shown to induce similar gene expression in the skin as retinoids. In other words, natural alternatives, like bakuchiol, are very well tolerated by all skin types compared to synthetic Retinoids of similar strength and effectiveness.

Other Benefits

Beyond being better tolerated on all skin types, natural alternatives provide some practical benefits, including their ability to be used in combination with other skincare ingredients such as vitamin C (the different PH requirements of the two ingredients usually end up rendering each other ineffective). They also don't break down or cause UV sensitivity, like synthetic ingredients, when exposed to UV rays, allowing natural alternatives to be used year-round.

Selecting the right product

Not all natural alternatives are created equal. Ingredient sourcing, processing, formulation, and preservation all play a role in the effectiveness of a product. Our ingredients are 100% natural, sourced from organic farms or wildharvested, processed without hexane, alcohol, sulphates, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, PEGs, or SLS. They are handcrafted fresh in small batches from whole plant ingredients to ensure each bottle maintains its innate potency. The ingredients work synergistically to heal skin. They are incredibly hydrating while focused on pore reduction and tightening and brightening skin. The serum is well tolerated for sensitive skin and can be used day and night throughout the year.


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