Retinol (vitamin A) is a skincare ingredient that gets a lot of air time in the mainstream beauty industry. But what if you don’t subscribe to using the synthetic form – can you still find it in nature?
Topically, vitamin A has been used for many years to enhance collagen production and promote skin renewal1, helping to reduce wrinkles, fade pigmentation, even out skin tone and help repair sun-damaged skin2. In skincare, most vitamin A products will boast the synthetic forms of retinol or retinyl palmitate in their formulations. But for those natural beauties still wanting to tap into the benefits, natural retinol alternatives can be found in plant-based carotenoid-rich oils.
Plant-based vitamin A is considered much more gentle on the skin than its synthetic counterparts, and is best used at night so it can work with your skin’s natural repairing processes.
Natural Retinol Alternatives in Skincare
Just as seeds make a healthy snack, they’re also a great topical skin food ingredient with a host of good reasons to include them in your skincare routine. Ideally with all seed oils you want to look for certified organic, cold-pressed oils that have been processed without chemicals or heat so the potency isn’t compromised.
Carrot Seed Oil
Carrot seed oil is one of the powerful natural retinol alternatives as it is naturally rich in beta-carotene (provitamin A). Because of this high carotenoid content, carrot seed oil acts as an anti-ageing oil for skin, which renders it an antioxidant and protector from UV rays, pollution and stress2. It’s also a source of vitamins K, E and C, which work together to rejuvenate skin cells.
Find it in: Odacite Vital Glow Serum Concentrate, a cold-pressed Wild Carrot Seed Oil that can be mixed into your day or night cream, or used directly on the skin. The Antipodes Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream also includes carrot seed oil to help rescue damaged skin tissue around the eyes. The Whamisa Organic Flowers Water Cream is a lightweight cream infused with carrot seed oil and is great for oily, normal or combination skin types.
Rosehip Seed Oil
Rosehip seed oil has been coined “nature’s retinol” because of its naturally rich content of provitamin A. As well as skin-protecting carotenoids, rosehip seed oil has very high omega 3, 6, 7 and 9 fatty acids, which help fuel the skin’s natural function and promote smooth complexion. Rosehip seed oil is commonly used in skincare specific for reducing the appearance of scars, stretch marks and other marks.
Find it in: Rms Beauty Oil contains organic rosehip oil, as well as buriti oil, Originating in Brazil, this oil is another of the richest sources of beta-carotene. Pai Skincare Rosehip Biogenerate Oil is a rosehip seed extract that provides the power of retinol without irritation. For body, try the Agent Nateur Holi Oil Body Serum, which uses rosehip seed oil alongside jojoba, argan and apricot oils.
Sea Buckthorn Seed Oil
Sea buckthorn is a shrub that grows in the mountainous and coastal areas of Asia and Europe. It is another seed that is used in skincare for its naturally high content of beta-carotene.
Find it in: Kahina Giving Beauty Serum uses sea buckthorn seed oil along with carrot seed oil and coffee oil (great for dark circles) for a formula that helps to repair tissue damage, calm inflammation and combat flaky skin. The Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum is a multi-talented facial oil with sea buckthorn as one of its key active ingredients.
1. Kong R, Cui Y, Fisher GJ, Wang X, Chen Y & Schneider LM. (2015). A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 15(1), 49-57.
2. Burke I. (2016). The Nature of Beauty: Organic Skincare, Botanical Beauty Rituals and Clean Cosmetics. London: Ebury Press.