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Are There ANY Fully Natural Retinol Sources? Turns Out, There Are...

by Ella Goodman 06 Oct 2023

Have you been spending WAY too much time scouring the aisles of beauty stores in pursuit of that ever-elusive 'natural retinol'?

Does such a thing even exist?

We get it.

The beauty world can sometimes feel like a maze, and navigating it can be as confusing as trying to understand your teen’s TikTok videos.

But worry not, ‘cause we’re about to drop some serious skincare knowledge bombs!

The Deets on Retinol

First things first: what even is retinol?

Retinol 101: The Basics

Before we go any further, let’s address the million-dollar question: what in the cosmos is retinol?

In essence, retinol is a potent form of Vitamin A. It's like the Beyoncé of the skincare world – immensely popular and backed by science.

Okay, not that Beyoncé’s “backed by science” per se, but you get my point.

When applied topically, retinol accelerates skin cell turnover, which, in translation, means it’s pushing the younger, plumper cells to the surface while simultaneously encouraging the older, dead skin cells to peace out.

Now, let’s get to why everyone from your dermatologist to that beauty blogger you can’t stop watching is head over heels for it.

Two words: anti-aging magic.

Wrinkles, fine lines, and uneven skin tone stand little chance against this powerhouse.

Plus, if you’re in the battle against acne, retinol's your knight in shining armor, working overtime to unclog pores and reduce the appearance of blemishes.

The Twist in the Tale: Synthetic Retinol

But here’s the plot twist. Like every epic saga, there's a catch. Not all retinols are created equal.

The most commonly available retinol is synthetic. And while it has its perks, synthetic retinol can sometimes be that diva guest at a party – demanding and high-maintenance.

Redness, flakiness, and irritation can be the uninvited side effects that tag along, especially if you have sensitive skin. This makes many rethink their RSVP to the retinol party.

Natural Retinol Sources: Mother Nature’s Gift

So, what's a skincare junkie to do when they're yearning for the retinol magic without the melodrama?

Voilà, here’s where natural retinol sources make a grand entrance.

Picture this: all the fantastic benefits of retinol, but sourced straight from nature's lap. It’s like ordering your favorite dessert, but with zero calories.

These natural alternatives may be gentler on the skin but don't be fooled; they still pack a punch in the efficacy department.

The Rise of Natural Retinol

We’re going green, baby!

And we’re not just talking about kale smoothies.

Our skincare game's also leveling up with ingredients Mother Nature would give a nod to.

Here are some cool beans (and seeds and leaves) packed with nature’s retinol:

Egg Yolk

Let's crack open the first contender (pun fully intended!).

Move over omelets; egg yolks are ready to grace your skincare regimen. Packed to the brim with vitamin A, these golden gems offer a host of skin-renewing properties.

Vitamin A, the parent compound of retinol, has the power to promote skin cell renewal and boost collagen production. If you’re intrigued by DIY masks, a dollop of egg yolk mixed with honey might just be your next radiant skin secret.


Ah, our crunchy orange buddies!

While Bugs Bunny loved them for their taste, the beauty industry adores them for a different reason.

Carrots boast of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body can convert to vitamin A. When applied topically, think of it as a gentle nudge, pushing your skin towards that youthful glow. From carrot-infused face masks to serums, this veggie is making waves, and we’re totally here for it.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet, savory, and skincare?

Oh yes!

These tuberous treasures, with their vibrant orange hue, hint at their secret – they're a treasure trove of vitamin A.

Apart from giving you an excuse to indulge in those baked sweet potato fries, they're also paving their way into skincare formulations, promising hydration and a radiant complexion.


It's not just a leaf; it's a legacy. If Popeye vouched for its muscle-boosting prowess, the skincare realm is echoing its benefits for your skin.

Rich in vitamins and antioxidants, spinach helps neutralize skin-damaging free radicals. It’s like a protective shield, combating daily environmental stressors that contribute to skin aging.

But wait, while these are all fabulous, the pièce de résistance of our natural skincare saga has got to be bakuchiol. Ever heard of it?

Bakuchiol: The Power-Packed Natural Sibling of Retinol

It’s not just a tongue-twister; it’s a game-changer.

Originating from the seeds of the babchi plant, bakuchiol has been dubbed the natural alternative to retinol. Imagine getting all the results without the potential irritation.

Dreamy, right?

Backdrop: A Whiff of History

Before we lavish too much praise on bakuchiol, it's vital to acknowledge its roots.

Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine, this ingredient is no newbie.

While the West might be catching on now, for centuries, cultures have revered the babchi plant, harnessing its powers for a range of health and beauty remedies.

The Bakuchiol Breakdown: Why It's the Talk of the Town

Gentle on the Skin

One of the biggest challenges with retinol? The infamous 'retinization' phase some people can experience – think redness, peeling, and irritation.

Bakuchiol gracefully sidesteps this dance.

Instead of declaring war on your skin, it takes a pacifist route, offering rejuvenation minus the aggression. This makes it a darling for those with sensitive skin or for folks who've played tag with retinol and, well, lost.

Universally Welcoming

Whether you’re a dewy damsel, an oil-slicked fellow, or find yourself balancing between the two extremes, bakuchiol sends out a hearty invite to all. Its versatility makes it the democratic leader of skincare ingredients, catering to all skin types with the same fervor.

Results That Resonate

Now, onto the meaty stuff. Does it deliver?

In spades! Bakuchiol has shown to work wonders in diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. But it doesn't stop there. Think of a radiant, even-toned complexion, a firmer skin feel, and an overall youthful exuberance. The kind of results that make you pause, gaze at your reflection, and murmur, "Hello, gorgeous!"

Synergistic Superstar

Bakuchiol plays well with others.

While retinol might throw a tantrum when paired with certain actives like vitamin C, bakuchiol is the friendly kid on the block.

Incorporate it into your regimen, whether it's a bakuchiol serum or bakuchiol oil, and watch it mingle effortlessly with other skincare favorites.

Making the Switch: A Thought

Is bakuchiol set to dethrone retinol? Perhaps not. But it certainly presents a compelling case for those on the fence, those who've been burned (sometimes, quite literally) by retinol, or anyone eager to integrate a more natural approach to anti-aging.

It's less about switching and more about finding what resonates with your unique skin narrative.

But, How Do You Use It?

Here’s where things get spicy! Remember, not all bakuchiol products are made equal.

So, if you're looking for the crème de la crème, here’s what you gotta do:

Spot The Right Product

  • A. Beyond the Label: The skincare aisles are brimming with products that slap on fancy terms, but the real deal lies in the ingredients. When scouting for a premium bakuchiol serum or oil, ensure that bakuchiol isn't merely a guest star. It should take center stage, not just be a tiny footnote.
  • B. The Complementary Crew: While bakuchiol is the captain of the ship, the crew matters too. A product that combines bakuchiol with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or soothing agents like chamomile can amplify your skincare results, offering hydration, rejuvenation, and yes, that coveted ticket to glow-town.

Use It Right

  • A. Prep the Canvas: Always remember, bakuchiol thrives on a clean, fresh base. So, post a thorough cleansing session (maybe even a gentle exfoliation if you're feeling it), your skin is primed and ready.
  • B. The Golden Drops: Whether it’s a bakuchiol oil or a serum, restraint is key. More doesn't always mean merrier in skincare. Usually, a few drops, gently warmed between your fingertips and then pressed onto your skin, can work wonders. The warmth helps in better absorption, and the pressing motion ensures the product penetrates deeper.
  • C. Timing Matters: While bakuchiol is a gentler alternative to retinol, integrating it into your evening routine can be beneficial. Why? Nights are when your skin’s repair mechanism kicks into high gear. Feed it some bakuchiol goodness, and you’re amplifying the restoration process.

Pair It Up

  • A. The Layering Logic: Skincare is a lot like making a sandwich. The order matters. After cleansing and maybe a splash of toner, allow your bakuchiol serum to step in. Once it’s soaked in, proceed with your favorite moisturizer or night cream.
  • B. Mixing and Matching: One of the perks of bakuchiol? It’s not finicky. It doesn't throw tantrums when paired with other ingredients. So, whether it’s your trusty vitamin C in the morning or a gentle AHA in the evening, bakuchiol can slide right in without causing a ruckus.
  • C. Listen to Your Skin: While we're all for experimenting, your skin often sends signals. If a certain combo feels off or if your skin seems overwhelmed, step back, and re-evaluate. The goal is harmony, not chaos.

Quickfire Bakuchiol FAQ

1. What's the big deal with bakuchiol again?

Bakuchiol is the botanical answer to retinol, offering similar anti-aging benefits minus the side effects. Extracted from the babchi plant seeds, it’s been used in traditional medicine for ages and is now taking the modern skincare world by storm.

2. Can I use bakuchiol if I have sensitive skin?

Absolutely! Bakuchiol is hailed for its gentle nature, making it a godsend for those with sensitive skin. It offers the benefits of retinol without the notorious redness or irritation.

3. Morning or night – when’s the best time to use bakuchiol?

While bakuchiol is versatile and can be used any time, the evening is a sweet spot. During the night, your skin goes into repair mode, and bakuchiol can boost this regenerative process.

4. I’m pregnant. Is bakuchiol safe for me?

Always consult your dermatologist or healthcare provider for personalized advice. Generally, bakuchiol is considered a safer alternative to retinol during pregnancy, but it's always best to get an expert opinion.

5. Can bakuchiol and retinol be used together?

Interestingly, yes! While bakuchiol can be a stand-alone star, if you’re a retinol fan and want to harness the power of both, they can be layered. Bakuchiol can buffer the potential irritation from retinol, but always patch-test first.

6. How long till I see results with bakuchiol?

Consistency is key. Most users report visible changes in texture, fine lines, and overall radiance in about 8-12 weeks. However, everyone's skin is unique, so results may vary.

7. Are there any side effects to watch out for with bakuchiol?

While bakuchiol is generally considered less irksome than retinol, any new ingredient can cause reactions in some people. Always patch-test, and if irritation occurs, stop use and consult a professional.

8. Is bakuchiol vegan and cruelty-free?

Pure bakuchiol, derived from the babchi plant, is vegan. However, the product you choose should also confirm its cruelty-free stance. Always check labels and brand ethos.

9. Can I use bakuchiol around my eyes?

While bakuchiol is gentler than retinol, the eye area is sensitive. If you're keen on using it there, opt for products specifically formulated for the eye region or use your serum sparingly and with caution.

10. I’m already using AHAs/BHAs. Can I still incorporate bakuchiol?

Yes, bakuchiol plays well in the skincare sandbox. It can be paired with AHAs or BHAs, but as always, be mindful and monitor your skin for any reactions.

Bottom Line

Dive into the world of natural retinol sources, and let your skin relish the goodness. The future of skincare is not just about looking good; it's about feeling fab with what you put on your face.

After all, as they say, nature knows best.

Remember, beautiful, every dietary morsel of natural goodies and every swipe of bakuchiol serum is a step towards rejuvenated, radiant skin.

So, go on, embrace the natural revolution, and let your skin do the talking!

Here’s to more glowy days and less "meh" ones!

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