4 Natural Alternatives To Retinol That Won’t Make Your Face Hurt

There’s never enough Charlotte Rampling.


Ah retinol. Loved by many, including doctors, for it’s abilities to make skin cells turn over and make faces baby soft, kill acne and smooth out pores and wrinkles. Retinol is hated by many, including me, because it is not readily handled by all skin types. It is powerful stuff and can make serious changes to skin, but it can leave skin tender and delicate. Some may decide the short term side effects are worth the long term benefits. I’ve tried many times to find a retinol formula that works for me. The closest I got was an RoC formula but it was also full of silicone, and likely not enough actual retinol to make a real difference.

So, what is retinol anyways? Retinol is a concentrated form of topical vitamin A. Regular use can help improve the appearanfirmness, diminish the look of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as help with uneven skin tone. Retin-A restores the organization of cells through cellular turnover in the epidermis, and aims to improve the look of skin by retexturing and smoothing. But, not everyone can tolerate it, including me. I know this because many readers and followers have asked me for a retinol alternative, preferably in the natural skincare arena. I am becoming more of a natural skincare convert, and this is because I have been able to try incredible natural products that work wonders on my skin without irritation.

A natural retinol “alternative” is just that – an alternative to retinol. It’s not a replacement, and it is not going to do the same thing on your skin. However, there are some fantastic products and ingredients that can certainly help give you a glow. What are the ingredients we need to help mimic the effects that retinol has on our skin?

Rosehip is a great one. Rosehip oil is full of naturally derived vitamin A and has been shown to drastically reduce wrinkles and sun spots. Rosehip seed oil is extracted from the seeds of a wild rose bush. It’s extremely rich in vitamin A (retinoids), vitamin C & E (antioxidants), essential fatty acids, linolenic and linolenic acids, which help diminish scars and age spots. The vitamin A in rosehip oil could also help prevent premature aging caused due to sun exposure.

Rosehip oil is a gorgeous amber coloured liquid oil and has a gentle fragrance. It’s important to be aware of the colour for one reason – it can stain fabrics. If I am using it at bedtime, I make sure to apply it well enough in advance of climbing into my white sheets and pillowcases, lest I wake up with orange pillows. It’s happened! I also like to apply rosehip oil to damp skin, or skin that I’ve misted with rosewater first. It’s also perfect to add a few drops to your regular moisturizer, morning or evening.

I’m noticing that wherever I go, someone tells me my skin looks amazing, and could I please share my secrets! I think a couple months of testing these amazing retinol alternatives has given me dewy, glowing, and balanced skin that feels soft and moisturised. Read on for my secrets!

from left: Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, Odacite Bu+L Serum, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, Kosmea Certified Organic Rosehip Oil
from left: Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, Odacite Bu+L Serum, Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, Kosmea Certified Organic Rosehip Oil


I’ve become a fan of all things Tata Harper. I love her happy green and gold packaging, and with every product of hers that I try, I become more of a convert. I am IN LOVE with Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum ($130 CAD, 30ml) because it makes my skin feel amazing. However the reactions I am getting about my skin since I’ve started using it (combined with Odacite Bu+L Serum Concentrate) have made me a full convert.

This is the magic, people!
This is the magic combination, people!


Ok, let’s talk about Odacite Bu+L Serum Concentrate ($52 CAD, 5ml) – keep in mind this is not a serum to be used all over your face, instead you simply add a drop to your daily skincare. It arrived at Daly Beauty with a note saying “enjoy this, everyone calls it a facelift in a bottle!”. Honestly how could I resist? So I started using it daily, adding a drop to my Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum, and don’t what I’d do if I ran out of this fountain of youth. The Odacite Bu+L combination of oils and extracts helps to firm the connective skin tissues, facilitating tighter & tauter skin. Buriti and Pequi oils deliver vitamin C, beta-carotene and omegas 3-6-9 to skin, and boost collagen production, serving to visibly firm and redefine facial contours. I’ve seen it. I believe it. I love it.

I’ve used Kosmea Rosehip Oil in the past, (review here) and love the glow it gives my skin. My skin feels plumper and dewy, and at around $20 CAD for a 20ml bottle, the price is right. Kosmea Rosehip Oil is also a certified organic product and is great for skin that is feeling dry, combination, or sensitive. Add a few drops to your regular moisturizer for a dose of anti-aging goodness, or to damp skin. Let it soak in, and enjoy the glow! Important: Kosmea Rosehip Oil is quite orange and should be applied well before bedtime if using at night. Let it soak in or beware the orange stained pillowcases.

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Fruit & Seed Oil Blend ($40 CAD, 30ml) is a legend in the skincare world. It’s the one product that comes up in any search for effective rosehip oils. It’s a great option for oilier skin types, and can even help with regulating oil. I adore it and it’s been in my Favourite Skincare Rotation Pile since I first tried it two months ago. Again, in experience rosehip oils are best applied to damp skin, while pressing the oils gently into the skin. Pai Rosehip Oil is great as an overnight treatment, and is also perfect sandwiched between your serum and moisturizer during the day. It’s an amazing product and must have for someone who wants to try a natural alternative to retinol. From their site:

Rosehip BioRegenerate is unique in containing concentrated fruit hip oil, with double the regenerative sterols and five times the carotenoids of seed oil. Premium CO2 supercritical extraction delivers the complete and concentrated properties of the plant. This makes Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate far more powerful than simple cold pressed Rosehip seed oils.


Have you tried any of these, or any other natural retinol alternatives?

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