Retinol 101 – what, why, how and a natural alternative

Almost everyone has heard of the wonders of Retinol but most people still don’t know what it is, what it does or how to determine which product is right for you. Maybe you’re even sat there thinking you can’t or don’t want to use Retinol because you’re prone to reactions or worried about cons! Well i’m going to break it down for you in a Retinol bible and even weigh in on a mystery ingredient that’s taking the beauty world by storm as a natural alternative to Retinol!

So let’s get started on this journey to improve your skincare with one fabulous addition!


Retinol is a miracle ingredient that sinks deep into your skin and speeds up cell regeneration which helps fight signs of ageing by eliminating dull, dry and wrinkled skin by forcing your skin to regenerate fresher, younger cells. Retinol is a potent form of Vitamin A which comes in different strengths within skincare products.

It’s often used to prevent signs of ageing (wrinkles, dullness) fight imperfections (dark spots, uneven texture) treat acne and even out your complexion but…

Due to the shedding of cells some users will find their skin prone to redness, irritation or dryness. Therefore it’s pivotal you choose the right product for you, and trust me, there’s something out there for everyone to get all of these fabulous benefits!


There are thousands of products on the market so there is no ‘one size fits all’ here. It’s common for people to start with a product containing a smaller active dose and then work up. The Ordinary have a fabulous starter kit for this which contains 3 Retinols at different percentages (0.5%/1%/2%) so you can work up to the higher one in a sustainable way that get’s your skin used to it with less risk of inflammation or issues. I personally prefer Retinol in this form rather than a moisturiser as it breaks through your skin barrier deeper to actively combat issues at better levels than a moisturiser containing it which I feel can’t go as far as the molecules are bigger and less easily absorbed.

The absolute BIGGEST MISTAKE most people make without even realising it is using Retinol in a pipette form! (Unfortunately this is how The Ordinarys come) You’ll notice with Retinols that they come in dark brown glass bottles. This is so sun rays can’t break through the bottle and affect it which renders it useless, but those glass bottles often come with a pipette applicator. Every time you squeeze the pipette you’re sucking up oxygen as well as Retinol into a small space and it oxygenates the serum. This massively reduces its effectiveness when you put it back in the container and it’s shelf life is vastly reduced.

ALWAYS USE A SUNSCREEN! I never use Retinol in the daytime, it’s always at night directly before bed but because it is generally quite harsh and opens your skin to the elements it’s so important to wear a sunscreen! You should do this everyday anyway whether we’re in a blistering heatwave or darkest winter but it’s so, so, so important to remember this step when using Retinol in your regime.


So you’ve heard all your friends raving about how Retinol is saving their skin! You’ve tried it yourself and even starting at a lower % your skin isn’t reacting well, or maybe you don’t even like the thought of it enough to try it. This is where a relatively new staple beauty ingredient comes in … BAKUCHIOL!

Now I like to think I keep up with skincare trends and key ingredients so it comes as a surprise to me that skincare buffs have been talking about this ingredient for a while, it’s popularity however is vastly growing amongst consumers now for its claims of skin cell renewal in a natural and gentler way to Retinol.

Bakuchiol is something I recently tried from the By BeautyBay Skincare range. It is a plant derived Vitamin A alternative that is kind to all skin which means it plumps and hydrates skin without the sensitivity, peeling and redness that can occur for some with Retinol use. It’s CV is endless, it calms and soothes skin whilst firming skin and fighting wrinkles by plumping, but it doesn’t stop there, it also fights blemishes, redness and large pores by deep cleaning. At this point you have to ask why you need anything other than this, right?!

With a list of claims this long it’s easy to question it! Bakuchiol’s small molecules deeply penetrate your skin and work with your skin to promote skin regeneration and cell renewal (thus removing imperfections and blemishes) in doing this it’s also promoting collagen production and it is NEVER too early to work on that! You start loosing collagen at 25 and it’s far easier to keep a consistent regime early rather than scurrying around for a miracle when you’re older and at 20% of what you used to produce!

Reap the rewards of this miracle ingredient by using it both morning and night as it doesn’t make skin sensitive like Retinol does, so despite me preaching you should wear an SPF regardless there’s no need to fret using this before you face the day! That by no means should signal that this is less powerful though, studies have in fact shown that when comparing only 0.5% of Bakuchiol to 2% Retinol in fighting blemishes that Bakuchiol won!

So there it is! A complete guide on Retinol and it’s natural alternative! For me I don’t personally have an issue with Retinol use however I have become so obsessed with Bakuchiol that i’ve been using it every morning and am definitely starting to debate using it to replace my Retinol completely!

Do you use Retinol in your regime?

Have you been swayed by the power of Bakuchiol?

Let me know in the comments below!

4 thoughts on “Retinol 101 – what, why, how and a natural alternative

  1. Heidi Bruaw says:

    Interesting! I didn’t know most of this before except that it was in many beauty products. It’s always great to understand why. Thank you!


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