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The conversation surrounding retinol is a never-ending one, and it's not surprising when it's proven to get such amazing results, but what about getting it from nature?
From repairing sun damage and fading pigmentation to softening lines and preventing spots, it's a skincare superhero. "Retinol doesn't just speed up cell turnover, it stimulates collagen production and helps thicken the dermis," explains Abigail James, A-list Facialist and Natural Skincare Expert. "I'm unaware of a similar ingredient with such an effect other than facial gadgets and technology."
But while it gets the thumbs up from professionals and users alike, often synthetic versions of retinol or retinyl palmitate are not always well tolerated. A form of vitamin A, it can cause irritation, dry, flaky patches and sensitive skin which is why it's always advised to build it up in stages.
An alternative (and one that we're favouring) is the natural retinol route because there are oodles of plant-based alternatives out there. "Bakuchoil is getting a lot of buzz lately but I also really love carrot seed oil and rosehip," says Jess Arnaudin, Skin Therapist and Author of Plant-Based Beauty. "For those who cannot tolerate traditional retinol or don't want to apply all of the other ingredients that vitamin A requires to remain stable, natural alternatives are an excellent choice for all skin types, even sensitive."
Another bonus is that unlike synthetic retinol which must only be used at night, Abigail flags that natural versions are safe to use am and pm and there's no 'getting used to' period because they won't cause dryness or flare-ups. That's because most of the natural alternatives are found in oils, which are also full of fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants that act as a support system for the skin and keep it in a happy, healthy state.
Where can you find natural retinol?
Carrot seed and rosehips oils, broccoli seed, apricot kernel, peach kernel, avocado and baobab oils are sources of natural retinol. Rich in vitamin A and with high carotenoid content that protects skin from things like UV rays, pollution and stress, the Ultimate Calm range includes both baobab and avocado oils to ensure skin stats soft, supple and shielded from external aggressors.
What's the best way to use it?
For best results, Jess advises using a layering approach. "Prep skin with a gentle exfoliant which stimulates cell turnover, then apply a product that includes ingredients that are high in antioxidants and vitamin A and then apply a full spectrum mineral SPF."
And when you do come to using retinol, just remember that the scale of strengths is in formulated in is vast. "Plant based retinols are nowhere near as strong as prescription strength despite all being from the same vitamin A family," explains Abigail. That's why if you've got sensitive skin, it's always advisable to go with the softly softly approach. "I always say start low, go slow meaning a low concentration of retinol but increasing the frequency of use slowly over an extended period of time," says Jess.