Gentler Retinol Alternatives: Do They Work?

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Gentler Retinol Alternatives: Do They Work?

One of the most loved skincare ingredients over the last year, and continuing through to 2021, is retinol.

Retinoid is the chemical class that refers to vitamin-A derivatives, such as retinol, and these topical ingredients are clinically proven to increase collagen production and decrease collagen breakdown. As well as reducing the signs of ageing and wrinkles, retinol also helps to unclog pores, treat acne and even out skin tone.

Acting as an exfoliant, there have been concerns from some users which has consequently led to gentler retinol alternatives being introduced onto the market.

Consumer Reactions to Retinol

Considered as a skin saviour for some, others perceive retinol as a powerful irritant. This is because, although it is an effective skincare ingredient, is can be irritating when you first use it.

Before skin builds up a tolerance, it may experience some side effects such as dryness, peeling, redness, sensitivity and burning. These side effects typically disappear over time, but it is understandable why they would encourage users to doubt and distrust.

At the beginning, it is recommended to use retinol once or twice a week to gradually ease it into your skincare routine. Please note, it is not safe for use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

For those skin types that do not acclimatise to retinol use, there have been some alternatives revealed whereby consumers can still benefit from the anti-ageing advantages but avoid the irritable side effects.

What Are Gentler Alternatives to Retinol?

These alternatives are both standalone ingredients and combinations of other ingredients alongside retinol, and have been marketed to counter the negative side effects.


Bakuchiol is probably the most well-known alternative due to its significantly effective results when it comes to tackling sun damage and wrinkles. Found in the seeds of the Indian plant Psoralea corylifolia, it is a plant-based alternative that increases collagen production and decreases collagen breakdown, like retinol. It also reduces melanin synthesis which, altogether, improves fine lines and pigmentation of the skin.

Granactive Retinoids

Still part of the retinoid class, granactive retinoids are a slightly different combination of chemical esters which are found to be gentler on the skin. Unfortunately, because this is still a retinoid, it cannot be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. However, being part of the same chemical class as retinol suggests that granactive retinoids are a great alternative for those with sensitive skin seeking the same anti-ageing results.

Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is pressed from rosehips, the seed pods of roses, and contains Vitamin A of which retinol is a derivative of. Additionally, it contains Vitamin E, Omegas 3, 6 and 9, plus other ingredients that rejuvenate and refine the skin’s texture. It is renowned for reducing scars and stretch marks, especially amongst expecting and new mothers, due to its cellular regeneration ability.

Anti-Ageing Skincare Treatments

At Jarvis, we believe that it is important to remember that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to skincare. It’s evident here that retinol is popular and incredibly effective for some people’s skin whereas these gentler alternatives are much better for others.

Everyone’s skin is different and that often that means that a combination of products may be more suited to you. It may be a case of trial and error, but at the end of the day, we simply cannot stop ageing – the trick is to just look the best we can while doing it.

Listen to your skin and look after it with the ingredients that work for you. If you would like to discuss this topic with our industry experts, please get in touch.


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