BUY TO GIVE BACK! A portion of your purchase goes towards supporting SUBZ Pads. Underprivileged school girls receive reusable sanitary wear so they don’t have to give up their right to education.

Alt-retinols: a gentler alternative to retinol

When it comes to skincare, one ingredient that has gained immense popularity over the years is retinol. Known for its ability to improve skin texture, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and even out skin tone, retinol has become a staple in many skincare routines. However, retinol can also be irritating, causing dryness, redness, and peeling, especially for those with sensitive skin.

This has led to the emergence of alt-retinol, a group of plant-based ingredients that mimic the benefits of retinol without the harsh side effects. This means there is now a wider range of options available for those looking to incorporate this powerful ingredient into their skincare regimen.

Alt-retinol vs retinol: understanding the differences

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and belongs to a class of compounds known as retinoids. It works by stimulating cell turnover and collagen production in the skin, leading to smoother, more youthful-looking skin over time. Traditional retinol products are widely available and have been extensively studied for their efficacy in improving various skin concerns.

On the other hand, alt-retinol refers to a newer generation of ingredients that aim to provide similar benefits as retinol but with potentially fewer side effects or limitations. Alt-retinols are natural compounds derived from plants that offer similar skin-boosting effects to retinol. They work by stimulating cell turnover, promoting collagen production, and reducing inflammation, all of which contribute to a smoother, firmer, and brighter complexion.

How does alt-retinol differ from regular retinol?

While alt-retinols share some similarities with retinol, they differ in their molecular structure and mechanism of action. This difference translates into a gentler profile with reduced irritation potential. Alt-retinols tend to be more tolerable for sensitive skin and can be used by a wider range of people, including those who cannot tolerate retinol.

Types of alt-retinol

Several alt-retinols have gained popularity in recent years, each with its unique properties and benefits:

  • Bakuchiol is extracted from the Psoralea corylifolia plant and is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It helps reduce fine lines, improve skin texture, and even out skin tone.
  • Bidens pilosa extract is derived from the Spanish needles plant. Bidens pilosa extract has shown promise in reducing the appearance of wrinkles and enhancing skin firmness. It is considered a gentler alternative to bakuchiol.
  • Retinol-like esters are synthetically derived compounds and include retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate. These are less potent than retinol but still offer some skin-rejuvenating benefits.

Pros of alt-retinol

  1. One major advantage of alt-retinols is that they tend to be less irritating and gentler on the skin than traditional retinol products. This makes them suitable for individuals with sensitive skin who may not tolerate regular retinol well.
  2. Suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding individuals. Unlike traditional retinol products, which are generally contraindicated during pregnancy or when breastfeeding, certain alt-retinols may be considered safe for use during these periods. However, it is always recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before using any skincare product during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  3. Some alt-retinols, such as bakuchiol, have been found to possess antioxidant properties. This means they can help protect the skin against free radicals and environmental damage, contributing to overall skin health.

Benefits of alt-retinol

Alt-retinols offer a range of benefits for the skin, including:

  • Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improved skin texture and elasticity
  • Evened out skin tone
  • Reduced hyperpigmentation
  • Enhanced skin cell turnover
  • Anti-inflammatory properties

Cons of alt-retinol

  1. While traditional retinol has been extensively studied and proven effective in numerous clinical trials, alt-retinols are relatively new to the market. As a result, there is limited scientific data or research available on their long-term efficacy and safety.
  2. Alt-retinols can vary in terms of potency and effectiveness compared to traditional retinol products. This means that results may vary depending on the specific formulation or ingredient being used.
  3. Traditional retinol products are widely available across various skincare brands and price ranges. In contrast, alt-retinols may be less readily accessible and often come with a higher price tag due to their novelty and potential added benefits.

Who should use alt-retinol?

Alt-retinols are a good option for those who want to address signs of ageing without the harsh side effects of retinol. They are particularly suitable for:

  • Individuals with sensitive skin.
  • Those who are new to retinol and want to start with a gentler option.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women who cannot use retinol. As mentioned please always discuss new products with your doctor if you are unsure. Alt-retinols, being a newer category of ingredients, may have limited research on their safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
  • People who experience irritation or dryness with retinol.


It is important to note that traditional retinol products have certain contraindications that should be considered before use. While alt-retinols are generally well-tolerated, there are also a few exceptions.

  1. Individuals who have known allergies or sensitivities to vitamin A derivatives should exercise caution when using any retinol-based product, including alt-retinol. With alt-retinol, individuals with a known allergy to any of the plant-based ingredients should also avoid using them.
  2. Certain skin conditions such as eczema or rosacea may be worsened or aggravated by the use of retinoids in general, and this includes alt-retinols. It is advisable to consult with a dermatologist before incorporating any retinol product into your skincare routine if you have pre-existing skin conditions.
  3. Retinoids can increase the skin's sensitivity to the sun, making it more prone to sunburn. It is crucial to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the daytime when using retinoids to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Don't forget to reapply sunscreen every few hours, especially if you're spending time outdoors. Remember, it's better to be safe than sunburnt!
  4. Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should avoid retinol, as it has been linked to potential birth defects.

Combining alt-retinol with other products

Alt-retinol can be safely combined with many other skincare products, including moisturisers, sunscreens, and hyaluronic acid serums. Avoid using alt-retinol in conjunction with harsh exfoliating products, which can further irritate the skin. Additionally, be cautious when using alt-retinol in combination with other products containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), as these can increase the risk of irritation.

Application tips for alt-retinol

To maximize the benefits of alt-retinol and minimise potential side effects, follow these application tips:

  • Start with a low concentration and gradually increase the potency as the product or ingredient is tolerated.
  • Apply a pea-sized amount to clean, dry skin 2-3 times a week to start.
  • Use sunscreen every morning, as alt-retinol, like regular retinol, can increase sun sensitivity.
  • Avoid using alt-retinol around the eyes.
  • Moisturise regularly or use a hydrating serum to keep the skin hydrated.


Alt-retinols offer a promising alternative to retinol, providing similar skin-rejuvenating benefits without the harsh side effects. They are a good option for those with sensitive skin or those who cannot tolerate retinol. With their gentle yet effective nature, alt-retinols are becoming an increasingly popular choice for achieving a radiant, youthful complexion.

error: Content is protected !!