Hunting for a natural retinol? Confused about IF natural retinol exists? Wondering if rosehip oil is a miracle natural retinol or if it's a beauty oil with an over-excited publicist? Ready to absorb multiple natural retinol knowledge shots (bakuchiol is here)? Come read all dear skin savvy...

Natural Retinol: Does it exist? Yes & No – here’s the deal

In Anti-Ageing & Protective Skincare, Natural Skincare, Oily/Combination Skincare Advice by Cheryl Woodman MChemLeave a Comment

Hunting for a natural retinol? Confused about IF natural retinol exists? Wondering if rosehip oil is a miracle natural retinol or if it’s a beauty oil with an over-excited publicist?

My friend you’re in exactly the right place.

Natural retinol is like a highly trained hide and seek operative – it can take time to find one (!)

…but not for you! because you’re here reading this!

Here’s the deal;

There are natural skincare products with retinol. Most of the ingredients are natural but the retinol is not.

Then there are non-natural products with retinol.

Then there are natural products which include a kind of retinol because Mother Nature made them that way – more about this soon.

Then there has recently sprung up – wait for it – a true natural retinol alternative. It works scientifically like retinol.

It’s exciting stuff – and best bit – studies are showing this true natural retinol alternative is kinder to skin than retinol. Awesomesauce.

Ready to absorb multiple natural retinol knowledge shots? Come read all dear skin savvy…

Hunting for a natural retinol? Confused about IF natural retinol exists? Wondering if rosehip oil is a miracle natural retinol or if it's a beauty oil with an over-excited publicist? Ready to absorb multiple natural retinol knowledge shots (bakuchiol is here)? Come read all dear skin savvy...

Is There a Natural Retinol?

Yes and no. Retinol is natural – but – the retinol you find in skincare isn’t. Retinol is a James Bond nickname for vitamin A. And if we’re being super-precise, retinol is actually vitamin A1. There’s no 007 for this guy – straight to the top baby.

Vitamin A is a family of actives;

  • Retinol
  • Retinal
  • Retinoic acid

And this family of actives goes on to the great-great grand-kids. That’s pro-vitamin A actives. Ingredients which can be broken down by your body into retinol aka carotenoids. The ingredients which give carrots their bad-ass reputation for helping you see in the dark.

All of these ingredients can be found naturally in your food. Animal foods are packed with vitamin A – liver is the best source, mackerel’s great and salmon too. Then plant foods – well they’re packed with pro-vitamin A – carrots, red peppers, sweet potato (yum!), kale, squash.

The amount of natural retinol in food is fab for our bodies when eaten – but it’s not enough to have those well-known about anti-ageing benefits of retinol in skincare.

Take the humble yet delicious sweet potato.

100 grams of sweet potato has just over 1000 mcg aka micro-grams of natural pro-vitamin A.

To find out what this is as a percentage we need to get both numbers into mcg.

Which means 100, 000, 000 mcg of sweet potato has 1000 mcg of pro-vitamin A.

Aka 0.001%.

And this is pro-vitamin A – not retinol. This means you need even more to get the same vitamin A benefits – that’s because bits get lost as pro-vitamin A gets converted i.e you’re looking at a figure a lot, lot less than 0.001% retinol.

Bottom line: Putting pureed sweet potato on your face  is putting yourself at risk of wanting to eat yourself but it’s not going to make your skin anti-age… or anti-acne.

But all is not lost my friend – because there’s new natural retinol news. But before we get there – lets discuss rosehip oil. It’s likely the first natural retinol you heard about – it is fab for many reasons but it’s natural retinol skills don’t live up to the hype – here’s why…

Is Rosehip Oil a Natural Retinol?

I’m putting it straight out there – spoiler alert – yes rosehip oil is a natural retinol. Rosehip oil contains wondrous retinoic acid – the kind of vitamin A your skin recognises without having to convert it – aka whatever natural retinol juice rosehip oil has is 100% destined to help anti-age, anti-acne your skin.

Sounds fab ‘eh. But wait for it… there’s more…

Is Rosehip Oil As Good As Retinol?

On one hand – the kind of vitamin A found in rosehip oil is much, much better than retinol. And that’s because your skin will recognise it straight away. It doesn’t have to get undressed. It doesn’t have to take off its disguise. It doesn’t have to be cooked first. This kind of retinol is the kind found in prescription retinoid creams.

But dear friend – concentration is key.

Did you know 1 rosehip oil can have a humongously different natural retinol concentration than another?

Take a peek at this factoid;

Coldpressed rosehip oil has about 700 X more natural retinol than solvent extracted rosehip oil. Crazy ‘eh.

But even when natural retinol containing rosehip oil has been cold-pressed it still has just 0.32 to 0.36 mg/L of retinoic acid.

Let’s put this into perspective.

Prescription retinoid creams start from concentrations as low as 0.025% retinoic acid.

Do the maths on rosehip oils natural retinol content and you’re looking at best case 0.00036%.

You got it my skin savvy – this is not enough natural retinol to help anti-age your skin visibly. But don’t be sad – exciting news is a’coming – a new natural retinol aka a new natural plant based retinol has hit our shelves. And trust me – what the studies say about this new natural, plant-based retinol – well they’re impressive.

Meet Your New Natural Retinol Alternative: Bakuchiol

What a wacky name ‘eh. Bakuchiol, pronounced Baaaak-uuch-iool. This new natural retinol alternative is born inside a native Indian plant called babchi. It’s also found in smaller amounts in plants known as cherry riceflower, Father David elm and long pepper – seriously you couldn’t make these names up. Long pepper has to be the best (!)

While bakuchiol is not a retinoid aka a type of vitamin A – bakuchiol appears to activate aka press go on the very same skin genes retinoids do. In other words, bakuchiol looks promising to give you the very same skin benefits as retinol.

Psst! For those of you who know about adapalene aka retinoid analogues/next generation retinoids – this is the same.

Here’s a list of all the good things bakuchiol can do for skin;

  • Help boost collagen levels aka the protein which helps stop your skin wrinkling
  • Protect against ageing as an antioxidant
  • Help calm and soothe as an anti-inflammatory
  • Help reduce/stop spots and acne
  • Even skin tone aka help get rid of hyperpigmentation aka age spots or acne scars
  • Helps reverse photoageing – not just protect against but reverse – keep reading for study data

p.s. if you’re pregnant or are right now trying for a bambino, then you probably already know retinoids are a recommended no-go. Yikes right. However – bakuchiol is not. Find out more about if bakuchiol is pregnancy safe here. 

Bakuchiol vs Retinol

Bakuchiol is not retinol.  Bakuchiol isn’t even a member of the vitamin A family. But bakuchiol is a rival of retinol.

…and a 2018 published clinical trial in the Journal of British Dermatology proves it;

“Our study demonstrates that bakuchiol is comparable with retinol in its ability to improve photoageing and is better tolerated than retinol. Bakuchiol is promising as a more tolerable alternative to retinol.”Prospective, randomized, double-blind assessment of
topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing, Jun 2018

This study tested a 0.5% bakuchiol cream used AM & PM – another big benefit of bakuchiol – it doesn’t get broken down when in contact with light – against a 0.5% retinol cream used in PM – because retinol gets broken down in light and therefore is only best used in PM.

On the edge of your seat to find out what benefits a bakuchiol cream could have for you? This clinical trial says;

  • Bakuchiol used for just 12 weeks can significantly reduce the size of fine wrinkles – impressive stuff ‘eh
  • In the case of bakuchiol vs retinol – there was no difference in anti-wrinkle benefits aka bakuchiol worked just as well as retinol
  • Bakuchiol can help reduce pigmentation – it gets to work reducing both the intensity aka strength of colour and the surface area
  • And In the case of bakuchiol vs retinol – bakuchiol worked just as well as retinol
  • And again In the case of bakuchiol vs retinol – bakuchiol caused less stinging, less itching and less scaling aka bakuchiol is easier for skin to love aka bakuchiol has a lot fewer side effects than retinol

…and it doesn’t stop there. This study published in Cosmetics & Toiletries magazine says if you have acne, spots and breakouts bakuchiol can help just like retinol. Here’s what we’re talking about;

  • Bakuchiol is extremely likely to help reduce your skins oiliness aka a key trigger for breakouts, it does this by helping turn down an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT
  • Bakuchiol is anti-bacterial – POW to acne causing bacteria
  • Bakuchiol can help switch off an enzyme which eats collagen aka acne scars should be made smoother aka bakuchiol can help you avoid ice pick acne scars
  • And there’s more; Bakuchiol helps reduce inflammation aka the red, raised bumps you see as acne
  • And more, more; Bakuchiol can help stop you getting spots caused by sebum oxidation – oxidised sebum is highly comedogenic – and it does this because bakuchiol is an antioxidant

Bottom line: Bakuchiol can love your skin in the very same ways as retinol. Bakuchiol is a plant-based hero with true natural retinol benefits.

Psst; grab your free copy of my 5 Best Anti-Ageing Actives cheat sheet here – it’s how you’ll find out if your skincare routine’s working it’s butt off to anti-age your skin (and whether bakuchiol makes the cut). Click here to grab yours now.

Now’s time for the important bit – where to find this superheroine?

Best Bakuchiol Products

Dear friend – searching for natural retinol skincare on Google is going to deliver you a page of shopping results which are natural skincare products with – non-natural retinol. That’s because Google shopping results are ad targeted aka a brand decides they want people who are searching for a natural retinol to see them – and therefore they pay to appear for those ad words. While Google shopping results are helpful – you’ll need to keep your eyes peeled on that ingredients list.

Bakuchiol serums and creams will have the word bakuchiol on their ingredients list. If it’s not there, it’s not a natural retinol.

Time-saver. Don’t worry about the ingredients list, these guys I have pre-vetted for you.

1. Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads

Price: £19.99 for 30

Other fab ingredients; Niacinamide, allantoin.

Key USP: Stand out on price! And only just launched on 25 Jan 19.

Buy it now.


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Indeed Labs Bakuchiol Reface Pads Ingredients list

Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Bakuchiol, Hydroxyacetophenone, Phenoxyethanol, Allantoin, Heptyl Glucoside, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Citric Acid, Glyceryl Caprylate, Polyglyceryl-6 Oleate, Disodium Edta, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Surfactin, Heptanol.

2. The INKEY List Bakuchiol Moisturiser

Price: £9.99 for 30ml

Other fab ingredients; skin conditioning squalane.

Key USP: A paired back moisturiser you can add in to any routine – bakuchiol is in at 1% – the staring ingredient.

Buy it now.


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The INKEY List Bakuchiol Moisturiser Ingredients list

Aqua (Water/ Eau), Squalane, Glycerin, Propanediol, Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil (Sacha Inchi oil), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Bakuchiol, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Caproyl Prolinate, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Carbomer, Sodium Hydroxide, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Polysorbate 60, Phytic Acid, Glyceryl Polyacrylate, Sorbitan Isostearate, Tocopherol..

3. Bioderma Sébium Global Cover

Price: £15/$20 for 30ml

Other fab ingredients; Zinc gluconate, salicylic acid – both great for sebum control/spot control – in fact this pick has a complete host of actives perfect for oily, acne prone skin.

Key USP: Bakuchiol for acne prone skin (!) helps control and reduce oiliness – plus it’s a cover up – one which isn’t going to make acne worse but instead – help – lots.

Buy it now.

1st shop at LookFantastic?
Copy & Paste this code > CHERYL-R3KY for £5 or dollar equivalent off your next £25 shop.


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Bioderma Sébium Global Cover Ingredients list

Aqua/Water/Eau, Di-C12-13 Alkyl Malate, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Diisopropyl Adipate, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Propanediol, Isononyl Isononanoate, Peg-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate, Zinc Gluconate, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Iron Oxides (Ci 77492), Disteardimonium Hectorite, Salicylic Acid, Bis-Peg/Ppg-14/14 Dimethicone, Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Bakuchiol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Glycyrrhetinic Acid, Candida Bombicola/Glucose/Methyl Rapeseedate Ferment, Xanthan Gum, Iron Oxides (Ci 77499), Alcohol Denat., Sodium Hydroxide, Laminaria Ochroleuca Extract, Xylitol, Propylene Glycol, Dimethicone, Rhamnose, Citric Acid, Fructooligosaccharides, Mannitol, Ginkgo Biloba Leaf Extract, Potassium Sorbate, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-Di-T-Butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Triisopropanolamine, Fragrance (Parfum). [Bi 734].

4. REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Cream

Price: £45/$59.50 for 50ml

Other fab ingredients; Oryzanol – fab antioxidant found in rice, hyaluronic acid, beta-carotene, vitamin C.

Key USP: A natural bakuchiol cream, not an oil, not a serum but a cream – packed with natural.

Buy it now.


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REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Ageing Cream Ingredients list

Rosa Damascena Flower Water, Rosa Rubiginosa Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glycerin, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Germ Oil, Oleyl Alcohol, Myristyl Myristate, Cetearyl Glucoside, Gossypium Harbaceum (Cotton) Seed Oil, Dipalmitoyl Hydroxyproline, Triheptanoin, Lauryl Laurate, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose , Bidens Pilosa Extract, Bakuchiol, Oryzanol, Linum Usitatissimum (Linseed) Seed Oil, Pullulan, Kappaphycus Alvarezii Extract, Levan, Olea Europaea (Olive) Leaf Extract, Tocopherol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Parfum (Fragrance), Decyl Glucoside, Porphyridium Cruentum Extract, Sodium Hydroxide, Zizyphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Linalool, Phenethyl Alcohol, Beta-Carotene, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Root Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Seed Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate.

5. IMGM Beyond Retinol Creamy Serum Bakuchiol

Price: $16.97 for 60ml – they also ship to the UK for $9

Other fab ingredients; Glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, allantoin, bisabolol, oat extract – there’s lots of soothing here.

Key USP: That price plus they tell us how much Bakuchiol they use – 1% – remember how that clinical study showed anti-ageing results with just 0.5% used twice a day? This is a great concentration.

Buy it now.


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Imagine Dermetology Beyond Retinol Creamy Serum Bakuchiol Ingredients list

Organic Herbal Infusion – Green Tea (Camellia sinensis), White Tea (Camellia sinensis), Chamomile (Matricaria recutita), Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Lauryl Lactate, Caprylyl Methicone, Glyceryl Monolaurate, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Bakuchiol, Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil, Glycolic Acid, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Extract, Tocopherol, Hyaluronic Acid, Allantoin, Avena sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Arginine, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Disodium EDTA Pyridoxine HCl, Maltodextrin, Sodium Starch Octenylsuccinate, Bisabolol, Phenoxyethanol, Water, Capryl Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Potassium Sorbate, Xanthan Gum, Silica, Sodium Ascorbate

There you have it dear skin savvy; the truth about natural retinol. Have questions about how to use plant based retinol? If your skin will like it? If bakuchiol is the right retinol for you? Come chat to me in the comments below…