Natural Retinol Alternatives

The popularity of anti-aging creams is reaching new heights, and the target market is becoming increasingly younger. There are over 700,000 videos tagged #antiaging on TikTok, which primarily caters to Gen-Z and Millennials. One of the star ingredients of the anti-aging scene right now is retinol.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A that can change the genetic expression of the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. However, it can be irritating and harsh, and many beauty enthusiasts are switching to gentler alternatives.
The Function of Retinol in Cosmetics
The form of vitamin A in Retinol can stimulate a physiological response in the body. When applying it to the skin, your body converts it to retinoic acid—a potent compound that affects cell growth and development. Doctors sometimes prescribe pure retinoic acid in tablet form for severe acne.
This acid stimulates genes in your DNA that tell your skin to regenerate, replacing old skin cells faster for more youthful-looking skin. It may also cause increased collagen production, which makes the skin look tighter and plumper. Retinol is far less concentrated than retinoic acid, making it safe to use without a prescription. However, it can still have adverse side effects.
Retinol Risks: Skin Irritation and More
Many people report dryness, itching, redness, and flaking skin after using retinol for the first time. This effect is due to its exceedingly acidic nature, which can change your skin’s natural pH level. People with sensitive or dry skin often find retinol irritating, making it unpleasant to use despite its powerful anti-aging properties.
Another concern is how sunlight affects it. Most retinol serums and creams work better as part of a nighttime skincare routine because UV rays can affect their efficacy. Some users even experience higher sensitivity to sunburn when they use retinol during the day.
Bakuchiol as a Gentler Alternative to Retinol
While you can get some retinol from your diet, the type we use in skin care is primarily synthesized in labs. Natural beauty enthusiasts may prefer bakuchiol – a natural retinol alternative derived from the babchi plant. This ingredient offers similar benefits to retinol without irritating the skin.
It stimulates skin cell regeneration and boosts collagen production for smoother, plumper-looking skin. It’s also vegan-friendly. Remember, bakuchiol is the name for the isolated compound, not the actual plant extract, which is called babchi oil. The isolate is more potent and offers more noticeable anti-aging effects.
Other Natural Retinol Alternatives
The primary function of retinol is to help skin cells regenerate. Many other ingredients have a similar effect when applied to the skin, most of which are far less irritating. Here are three popular retinol alternatives derived from natural ingredients:

  • Rosehip oil contains retinoic acid, although in minimum quantities. It’s much gentler than retinol and provides moisture, making it suitable for sensitive or dry skin types.
  • Azelaic acid comes from barley and wheat and occurs naturally on human skin. It contains antioxidants and can help unclog pores and promote healthy skin cell regeneration.
  • Red algae like Hypnea musciformis are rich in Vitamin A, which breaks down into retinoic acid in the body. It also contains antioxidants to combat skin inflammation.

Pairing Gentle Ingredients With Natural Fragrance
When discussing gentle skin care formulations, fragrance-free products are almost always mentioned. However, you don’t have to ditch fragrance altogether to create a clean-label anti-aging product.
Absolutes are plant-based extracts similar to essential oils. These compounds contain fragrance molecules that give flowers their characteristic scent and are the perfect addition to serums that contain natural retinol alternatives. To try absolute fragrances in your formulation, request a sample from Advanced Biotech or contact us today.