What Is Retinol? Benefits, Side Effects & A Natural Alternative


Retinol is lauded as the gold standard of skin care. For years, this miracle ingredient has been included in topical formulas to reduce and delay the visible signs of aging; however, the benefits of conventional retinol come with plenty of uncomfortable side effects. If you’re ready to add retinol to your skin care routine but prefer to keep things natural, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for our guide to retinol in skin care and how to incorporate a natural alternative into your routine.

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a synthetic derivative of Vitamin A, an antioxidant that is essential for healthy eyes and skin. Because the body cannot produce this vitamin on its own, it needs to be supplied by diet and/or topical skin care. It is often added to anti-aging products for its ability to promote skin cell turnover, build collagen, fight free radicals and erase fine lines and wrinkles. 

How Does Retinol Work?

In order for the skin to benefit from retinol, enzymes in the body must convert it into retinoic acid (also known as tretinoin), the active form of Vitamin A. Retinoic acid works on a cellular level to optimize the following functions that improve skin’s health and vitality.

Speeds Up Skin Cell Turnover

Efficient skin cell turnover is necessary for skin growth and repair. When you are a child, your skin cells naturally turn over every two weeks; however, as early as your twenties, the turnover process starts to slow to every 28-35 days. By fifty, it takes as long as 45-90 days for dead skin to fully shed from your skin’s surface. As a result, skin becomes drier, thinner and more pigmented as you mature. Retinol prompts surface cells to turn over more quickly, enabling your skin to grow healthy cells and shed dead layers more efficiently.

Stimulates Collagen And Elastin Production

Over time, your skin’s stores of collagen and elastin begin to deplete. These proteins, which provide necessary support and elasticity, keep skin dense, plump and wrinkle-free. As their production declines, the skin begins to loosen and sag, and fine lines and wrinkles set in. Retinoic acid not only stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin, it also prevents their breakdown, keeping your skin strong, firm and elastic.

Neutralizes Free Radicals 

Ninety percent of skin aging is caused by environmental factors like pollution, blue light and UV rays. These stressors expose skin to free radicals — highly reactive molecules that cause oxidative stress and damage healthy skin cells. Unchecked, this can degrade the skin’s structural integrity and lead to premature aging. A Vitamin A derivative, retinol’s antioxidant properties neutralize free radicals and reduce their reactivity, thereby improving your skin’s health and resilience.  

Retinol Benefits And Side Effects

Through these actions, retinol provides the following benefits:

  • Removes dead skin cells
  • Clears congestion
  • Shrinks large pores
  • Smooths uneven skin texture
  • Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles
  • Keeps skin firm and plump
  • Fades dark spots

However, regular use of synthetic retinol can cause the following side effects:

  • Dryness
  • Peeling 
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • UV sensitivity

Most dermatologists advise that you skip retinol if you suffer from rosacea, eczema, psoriasis and other inflammatory skin conditions. 

Conventional vs Natural Retinol Alternative

Natural Retinol Alternative

You can reap the benefits of retinol (and skip its side effects) by opting for a natural, botanical-based alternative. Our Natural Retinol Alternative is a complex that mimics the effect of chemical retinol by appearing to lift and tighten the skin. It improves skin firmness and elasticity and minimizes the visible signs of aging caused by free radical damage. Unlike synthetic Vitamin A, this alternative is derived from chicory root and tara tree extract, two natural compounds that provide the same results as conventional retinol — without the downtime.

How To Add Natural Retinol To Your Skin Care Routine

Add natural retinol to your skin care routine with our Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser. Infused with exotic monoi and made with our unique Natural Retinol Alternative, this refining cleanser rejuvenates skin for a smooth and lifted appearance. It also removes impurities and surface debris to encourage the appearance of smooth-looking skin.

You can also add natural options for retinol to your routine by using the Bamboo Firming Fluid. This silky concentrate is formulated with our Natural Retinol Alternative to smooth fine lines and wrinkles and tighten skin. Bamboo and coconut are additional ingredients that tone and condition for a complexion that appears firm and ageless.

Eminence Organics fan, George Z., says in his five-star review: “I love my Bamboo Firming Fluid … I’m 74 with pretty good skin, nevertheless, the laugh lines were bothering me. Now, after two months, they are disappearing, along with the frown wrinkles between my eyes.”

For best results, apply the Bamboo Firming Fluid after your favorite toner and before moisturizing your skin. Like all Eminence Organic Skin Care products, a little goes a long way! A thin layer is plenty to keep your skin soft, smooth and wrinkle-free.

Do you use retinol in your skin care routine? Would you switch to a natural and organic alternative? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and join the conversation on social media.

This article was originally written in July 2019.


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