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Alternatives to Retinol for Sensitive Skin

August 9 2019

In this article:

Retinol is a very popular substance often used in skincare regimens to help reduce aging skin and acne. It is derived from vitamin A, which is an antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress. 

Retinol is also said to boost collagen, plump skin and reduce wrinkles. It helps exfoliate skin cells and shed dead skin, promoting new skin growth. It can also improve skin tone and may be prescribed by a dermatologist at high strength.

The Problem with Retinol Serums

Using retinol creams on the skin and face may have some impressive benefits, but it can also cause adverse reactions for sensitive skin. 

It may make skin dry, flaky, red or inflamed. It is often suggested to wear at night due to its common side effect of dry skin. Many products will direct users to wash their face in the mornings and apply a moisturizer to combat this effect. 

However, it may also cause more adverse effects if a person is exposed to too much sun. It is advised for people to use a sunscreen with retinol. Even then, it may be too much for someone with sensitive skin.

Some side effects of retinol include:

  • Acne breakouts
  • Skin tenderness and pain
  • Dry, itchy and flaky appearance

Skincare and Sensitive Skin

Retinol may be used as an ingredient in serum, night creams, daily moisturizer products or chemical peels. These can leave the skin feeling new and fresh but may also cause soreness, redness and increased sensitivity. 

Those who have delicate skin that reacts to harsh chemicals or substances may not be able to tolerate retinol. The effects of soreness and breakouts retinol causes can be very painful and uncomfortable. Thankfully, for those who have sensitivity, there are plant-based alternatives to retinol.

Why Seek Alternatives to Retinol?

There are many options for healthy beauty care products that can noticeably improve the health of skin. Options such as sugar scrubs, natural oils and moisturizers that contain antioxidants can be great alternatives to retinol products without the harsh side effects. People with a sensitivity to retinol can replace many care products with these great alternatives.

Some of the benefits of alternatives to retinol include: 

  • Little or no side effects
  • Natural skincare products
  • Lower prices
  • Ability to use any time of day
  • Ability to be combined with other products for achieving health care balance

Beta Carotene

Many people know the benefits of beta carotene for the health of the eyes, but it also offers protection for the skin by shielding it from damage caused by UV light. This means less harmful effects from sunburns and quicker recovery from burns.

It is also a powerful antioxidant, helping fight the effects of premature aging. In the body, beta carotene is converted into vitamin A, providing the same benefits but with a more natural approach.

Beta carotene is what creates the orange pigment in carrots, pumpkins and butternut squash. People can get it from food, as a supplement or in beauty care products. 

Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is harvested from the rosebush after it finishes flowering. The small fruits have been used for centuries in folk medicine for many purposes. One common use is for its anti-inflammatory properties that can help promote healing of the skin and the necessary nutrients for the skin to become radiant again.

Beyond the antioxidant content, rosehip oil contains essential fatty acids that can help with rehydrating and repairing skin. This can lead to fewer wrinkles and a natural glow all over the face and body. Rosehips also have astringent properties, so the oil can help tighten pores, even out skin tone, tighten skin and fade scars. 

Almond Oil

Although it may seem like almond oil may be better placed in a salad, most people are amazed at how many benefits it can have for the skin. It is a popular choice for natural alternatives to massage oil and can be added to a daily skincare routine. 

Almonds are known for their health-boosting properties; specifically, they contain many minerals that are necessary for healthy cells. The essential fats and antioxidant properties also contribute to healthier and more vibrant skin. It also has the ability to reduce dark circles and puffy eyes.

Almond oil is often used for its anti-aging properties that can renew dull-looking skin and can be used to protect the body from UV light. It is easily absorbed and considered a light oil, thus making it less likely to clog pores. It can be a great remedy to dry skin and added to sugar scrubs to boost beautifying benefits.

Argan Oil

Argan oil is a popular choice when it comes to skin and hair care. It is made from tree kernels derived from a tree in Morocco. The pure oil can be applied directly to the skin or consumed for its benefits. It's often added to skincare products and available as a supplement.

It is known to protect the skin from sun damage, even fighting against the development of sun-related skin disorders. Due to its ability to stave off damage from free radicals, it also helps prevent hyperpigmentation and burns.

It is often used as a luxurious moisturizer: Thanks to its vitamin E content, it can improve the water retention of the skin and combat chronic dryness. It can be used to treat some conditions like acne, psoriasis and rosacea due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Argan oil is a great choice for sensitive skin because of its ability to soothe irritation, itchiness and redness. It can be pricier than many of the alternatives found on this list, and may not be the best option for people who like to make their own DIY beauty products. However, high-quality argan oil is found in many store-bought creams and moisturizers for those that prefer a ready-made product.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has become wildly popular in recent years for a number of astonishing health benefits. It is a popular product due to its superfood reputation and versatility. It is used in many DIY recipes, body care products, natural health remedies and delicious recipes.

Coconut oil is noted for its ability to help improve brain health and gut health, but this amazing oil is also great for skincare and beauty products. It contains a useful combination of fats, which is unique and exceptional in treating skin conditions. 

As a beauty product coconut oil may improve the skin's barrier function and general health. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, making it a great choice for treating acne in those with sensitivity to dryness and irritation. Coconut oil can also act as a light sunscreen, so using it as a general moisturizer in the morning can be helpful for people who want to protect their face and body from harmful UV rays. 

Coconut oil, like many of the other oils on this list, can also be used as a gentle makeup remover. It will help lift dirt and makeup residue while moisturizing the face.

Vitamin E Oil

A common misunderstanding is that vitamin E is a single vitamin. In reality, it is a group of vitamins that work together for powerful antioxidant effects. Vitamin E oil can help with clearing brown spots and regenerate the cells of the skin. 

Vitamin E oil can be applied directly or ingested. It is also available in supplemental form, where its benefits for the internal organs and eye health can be enjoyed as well. It can help prevent sun damage, reduce wrinkles and give people a more youthful appearance.

Vitamin E is used to treat dry and flaky skin, helping the cells to retain moisture and stay supple. It's also helpful in reducing itchiness and eczema. A popular use of vitamin E oil is its ability to reduce the appearance of scars due to its moisturizing properties. 

Making the Right Choice for Your Skin

For those who are struggling with finding the right care products for sensitive skin, it can take some trial and error to discover the perfect balance of ingredients. Many of the plant-based alternatives to retinol are gentle, but each individual may have a different reaction to these options. 

Choosing lighter options such as almond oil may be a good place to begin, and adding other ingredients such as vitamin E could help people take steps to a more dynamic and effective care regime. People who incorporate these retinol alternatives should take care to observe closely for reactions and adjust accordingly. 

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