Best Natural Alternatives to Retinol (for Sensitive Skin + Pregnancy!)

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collage showing the best natural alternatives to retinol - carrot oil and seeds, bakuchiol seeds spilling out of a jar and red palm oil in glass bowl

Even although retinol is without doubt one of the strongest skincare substances, some individuals select to keep away from it as a result of it’s too irritating for them or as a result of they like extra pure choices. If this sounds such as you, then this checklist of pure alternate options to retinol is ideal for you.

When placing this checklist collectively I checked out pure substitutes which are wealthy in antioxidants often called carotenoids.

Like all antioxidants, carotenoids play a significant function in defending the pores and skin from free radical injury.

But much more importantly, the physique has the flexibility to transform a subset of carotenoids into preformed vitamin A (which is what retinol is). This subset of carotenoids is (source):

  • Alpha-carotene.
  • Beta-carotene.
  • Beta-cryptoxanthin.

So, by selecting substances that comprise a number of of the above carotenoids, your pores and skin can take pleasure in most of the identical advantages that retinol supplies.

Just remember the fact that these pure choices are usually not as concentrated as retinol. So it would take longer to see adjustments.

Now, with out additional delay, let’s take a look at these pure retinol substitutes.

Note: this put up accommodates some affiliate hyperlinks and I earn a fee (at no extra price to you) if you happen to use them to make a purchase order.


1. Unrefined Palm Oil

palm oil in bowl - natural equivalent to retinol

If you’ve ever used unrefined (purple) palm oil then that it has a very robust orange/purple colour. That colour is because of palm oil’s exceptionally excessive carotenoid (provitamin A) content material.

So, simply how a lot carotenoids are you able to get from palm oil? Well, analysis exhibits that it has 15 instances extra provitamin A than carrots and 300 instances greater than tomatoes (source).

Furthermore, palm oil accommodates the three carotenoids that the physique converts to vitamin A: alpha carotene, beta carotene and beta cryptoxanthin.

This makes palm oil top-of-the-line pure alternate options for retinol.

But it doesn’t cease there! Palm oil additionally accommodates (1, 2, 3):

  • Tocopherols and tocotrienols: types of vitamin E, which is thought for having antioxidant properties.
  • Lycopene: an antioxidant that stops the breakdown of collagen, protects the pores and skin from solar injury.
  • Squalene: a lipid that lubricates and protects the pores and skin; squalene can also be present in sebum.
  • Fatty acids: palm oil is especially wealthy in palmitic, adopted by oleic, linoleic
  • Co-Q10: antioxidant that balances pores and skin tone and retains the pores and skin hydrated.

Personally, I’m a bit biased with regards to purple palm oil as a result of I grew up in West Africa the place it was often used for pores and skin and hair care. It’s extremely conditioning, nourishing and therapeutic.

But it does have a noticeable odor and a powerful colour that stains. So, concentrate on this if you happen to resolve to make use of it.

To decrease the odor and colour, you possibly can mix it with different provider oils or butters.


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2. Buriti Oil

The orange-reddish buriti oil comes from the fruit of the moriche palm tree that grows in tropical areas, notably the Amazon.

The pulp of the palm fruit is especially excessive in beta carotene and as such, the oil that’s extracted from that fruit is taken into account top-of-the-line sources of provitamin A (source).

As far as analysis goes, one examine discovered that lotions and lotions that comprise buriti oil might have a protecting impact in opposition to UV injury (source).

Aside from beta carotene, buriti oil has different noteworthy substances, comparable to (4, 5):

  • Fatty acids: primarily oleic acid adopted by palmitic acid.
  • Antioxidants: excessive in phenolic compounds and tocopherols (vitamin E).


  • You can provide this plain buriti oil a attempt.
  • Since buriti oil doesn’t have essentially the most nice odor, it’s your decision one thing extra gratifying like this face oil which contains buriti and rosehip (one other provitamin A oil). This face oil additionally accommodates skin-soothing substances like St John’s Wort extract and calendula extract.

3. Rosehip Oil

Rosehip oil is a light-weight and simply absorbed oil that’s recognized for being a very good supply of beta-carotene, fatty acids and vitamin E.

Overall, rosehip oil could be fairly useful for:

  • Inflammation that manifests within the type of pimples, rosacea or eczema.
  • Stretch marks.
  • Hyperpigmentation.
  • Scars.

Rosehip oil can also be fairly wealthy in linoleic acid (about 54%) making it useful for supporting the pores and skin barrier (linoleic acid occurs to be one).

Do remember the fact that the pulp of the rosehip fruit is the place many of the beta carotene is positioned.

So, when buying any rosehip oil, examine the label (or the corporate’s web site) to ensure that the pulp was used within the oil extraction course of. 

You also can learn my information on the distinction between rosehip and rosehip seed oil to study extra about selecting a very good high quality rosehip oil.


  • Kosmea‘s rosehip oil is my private go-to as a result of it’s extracted from the pulp and seed. Get it here.

4. Sea Buckthorn Oil

With a excessive focus of antioxidants (including beta carotene) and omega fatty acids (3, 6, 7 and 9) sea buckthorn is without doubt one of the greatest pure substitutes for retinol.

Anecdotal and scientific proof exhibits that sea buckthorn oil is nice for:

  • Inflamed pores and skin situations comparable to eczema, psoriasis, rosacea and pimples.
  • Supporting wound therapeutic.
  • Protecting the overgrowth of candida.
  • Fading scars.
  • Protecting the pores and skin from moisture loss.

When purchasing for a sea buckthorn oil, bear in mind that there are three sorts:

  • Seed oil
  • Fruit or berry oil (this can have many of the beta carotene)
  • A mix that accommodates oil from the fruit and seed.

Pay shut consideration to the label to see which half(s) had been used within the oil extraction.


5. Bakuchiol

bakuchiol seeds in jar

Bakuchiol is a really calming and soothing extract that comes from the psoralea corylifolia plant (aka babchi). Historically, the psoralea corylifolia plant has been utilized in Ayurvedic and Chinese drugs to handle quite a lot of pores and skin situations, together with eczema and psoriasis (source).

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When it involves the pores and skin, bakuchiol has most of the identical advantages as retinol, comparable to (source):

  • Reducing wrinkles.
  • Improving pores and skin firmness.
  • Reducing pores and skin discoloration.

For many individuals, bakuchiol is a win-win as a result of it presents lots of retinol’s advantages whereas additionally being very light on the pores and skin.


  • With a mix of bakuchiol, rose water, rosehip oil and niacinamide, this Firming Serum from Follain has many important substances to assist collagen manufacturing and keep agency pores and skin.
  • This serum from Acure consists of bakuchiol, aloe, turmeric and basil (simply to call just a few). For delicate or delicate pores and skin, these soothing substances are a welcome deal with (but they nonetheless pack a punch with regards to their advantages!).

6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Research exhibits that further virgin, cold-pressed olive oil accommodates quite a lot of carotenoids, and particularly, “substantial portions” of beta-carotene (6, 7).

As such, olive oil might be used along with different carotenoid-rich oils, to assist pores and skin well being.


  • Any prime quality, further virgin olive oil will do the trick. One place I prefer to get my pure dwelling provides from is Mountain Rose Herbs. They have this organic, extra virgin olive oil that you should utilize.

7. Apricot Oil

Studies taking a look at apricot kernel oil from numerous apricot varieties have proven that this oil accommodates beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin (each of which have vitamin A exercise) (8, 9, 10).

In addition, apricot kernel oil additionally supplies: 

  • Vitamin E.
  • High quantities of oleic acid and average quantities of linoleic acid.


8. Plum Oil

As a pure source of beta-carotene, plum oil may also help to advertise cell turnover, assist collagen manufacturing, enhance pores and skin elasticity and clean out wrinkles.

Furthermore, plum oil accommodates vitamin E which is without doubt one of the greatest emollients for the pores and skin, in addition to a potent antioxidant.

One factor to bear in mind with plum oil is that it has a better quantity of oleic acid (52 – 66%) and a decrease quantity of linoleic acid (28 – 35%).

Oils increased in oleic acid are usually a bit heavier. Also, if in case you have pimples, then you definately need to be conscious of utilizing excessive oleic oils. This is as a result of these with acne-prone pores and skin have a tendency to provide sebum that’s wealthy in oleic acid and low in linoleic acid.


9. Carrot Oils

carrot seed oil

There are two sorts of carrot oils which will work as an alternative choice to retinol:

  • Macerated carrot oil: this includes soaking carrots in a provider oil for an prolonged time frame. The provider oil turns into infused with the therapeutic advantages of the carrots. This can be utilized straight on the pores and skin identical to any provider oil.
  • Cold-pressed Carrot Seed Oil: this oil is extracted from the seed of untamed carrots (completely different from the carrots we eat). It accommodates important fatty acids and may comprise some beta carotene (although it’s not clear precisely how a lot). It is a wealthy supply of beta carotene.
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10. Pumpkin Seed Oil

Pumpkin seed oil is taken into account wealthy in carotenoids, notably beta-carotene, in addition to others like lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.

In addition, pumpkin seed oil is a pure supply of vitamin E (within the type of tocopherols) and sterols (these are cholesterol-like compounds which are anti-inflammatory and that additionally support manufacturing of collagen and hyaluronic acid).

As for its fatty acid composition, pumpkin seed oil has a barely increased quantity of oleic acid (41.4%) than linoleic acid (37%).



pregnancy safe alternatives to retinol - pregnant woman's belly with cream in smiley face format

According to rosehip oil producers, Pai and Trilogy, their rosehip oils are secure to make use of whereas pregnant and breastfeeding as effectively (11, 12).

That stated, it’s nonetheless a good suggestion to double examine along with your physician simply to have that further peace of thoughts.

In addition, provider oils are usually thought of secure throughout being pregnant. So meaning you possibly can think about using palm oil, apricot kernel or sea buckthorn for his or her retinol-like results throughout being pregnant.

However, please word that there actually aren’t many security research completed with pregnant girls as a result of it’s simply too dangerous. So, even with provider oils, make certain to have a dialog along with your physician earlier than utilizing them.

Now, with regards to carrot seed oil, it’s greatest to keep away from it throughout being pregnant as a result of it’s an important oil. If you do resolve that you just actually need to experiment with it throughout being pregnant, examine with an aromatherapist first.

Lastly, please remember the fact that the standard and reliability of the manufacturers you employ throughout being pregnant additionally issues quite a bit.

So, whether or not you select to make use of rosehip, bakuchiol or sea buckthorn, go for manufacturers which are licensed natural and as pure/healthful as attainable.

This minimizes your publicity to pesticides and different toxins. Purchasing from a good or established model additionally minimizes (however doesn’t fully get rid of) the possibilities of shopping for an oil that’s been adulterated with cheaper oils.


Since commercially out there retinol is artificial, there isn’t a precise duplicate for it in nature. 

However, there are plant oils and extracts that may provide most of the identical advantages as retinol. I hope that this text has been useful in providing you with some alternate options you could add to your skincare routine.

You Might Also Enjoy:

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Which is Better: Rosehip Oil or Retinol? A Complete Guide

What To Mix (And Not) With Rosehip Oil For Face – The Ultimate Guide

The Difference Between Carrot Oil and Carrot Seed Oil

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