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Retinol vs. Natural Alternatives Bakuchiol and Rose Hip Oil

How do natural alternatives to Retinol stack up in comparison?

If you take anti-aging seriously, you’ve definitely tried the topical, vitamin A-based drugs called “retinoids” - or at least heard of them by now. There are so many skincare products out there that claim to be the next best thing for turning back the clock, but real results are often lacking.

Retinoids, on the other hand, actually work! Retinoids stimulate collagen production and promote cell turnover. This results in more evened out pigmentation and improves the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and acne. Sounds like an anti-aging miracle cream right?

You can get a prescription for the most highly concentrated form of retinoids, Tretinoin, under the brand name Retin-A, from your dermatologist or plastic surgeon. If you are looking to start off with something less abrasive, try the over-the-counter version, “retinol” available in a variety of products at your local pharmacy.

So are retinoids all rainbows and butterflies and flawless skin? Well, they say “beauty is pain” for a reason and in this case pain = red, dry, and flaky skin. Unfortunately, the majority of people who introduce retinol into their skincare routine end up experiencing red, dry and flaky skin for quite a while before they see any real benefits. It also is estimated to take up to 1 year to see the full results of taking retinoids consistently and they are not recommended for woman who are either pregnant or breast-feeding. That’s where the natural, less abrasive alternatives like bakuchiol, rose hip oil and rambutan come into play. So do these alternatives really compare to retinol? Let’s dive deeper…


Bakuchiol is an ingredient that is derived from the seed of the "babchi" plant that has recently been crowned the “the natural alternative to retinol”. There is some evidence that suggests bakuchiol can do the same thing that retinol can minus the negative side effects.

So what do they have in common? One study from 2018 suggests that both bakuchiol and retinol have similar anti-aging effects. In addition, Retinol/tretinoin (the active compound that retinol changes to in vivo) and bakuchiol both stimulate collagen production, which is always a huge plus when it comes to anti-aging - we all love more collagen :)

The two do have some significant differences - one being that although bakuchiol has a similar structure to retinol, it doesn’t seem to act via the same retinoic acid receptors as retinol. Some research even suggests that bakuchiol is actually better than retinol at slowing down the activity of two matrix metalloprotease enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, MMP-1 and MMP-12.

At the end of the day, it is fair to say that bakuchiol is an effective anti-aging ingredient and I personally think it has lots of promise in the beauty industry as a retinol alternative for those who either have sensitive skin or are pregnant or breast-feeding.

Whether it is equally as effective as retinol is to be determined. At this point there isn't enough data on bakuchiol as an ingredient or retinol/tretinoin vs bakuchiol. Time (and some more research) will tell!


Rosehip oil comes from the pressed seed of the rose plant, which is the small fruit that sits beneath the rose. You can easily buy pure organic rosehip oil as well as a variety of skincare products that include it as an ingredient due to its hydrating and anti-aging benefits.

Rosehip oil has a host of benefits, one being its ability to help with acne prone, blemished skin. It seems counterintuitive to use an oil to help with "oily skin" problems, but Rosehip oil’s high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids (also known as linoleic acid) happens to be particularly helpful for those suffering from acne.

Rosehip oil also has been shown to help regenerate and heal skin because of its high concentrations of vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, and K, which makes it a great option for reducing post-op scars!

Similar to retinol, rosehip oil also increases collagen production and skin elasticity, improving fine wrinkles and increasing the skin's moisture level, and elasticity.

Last but not least, rosehip oil is not abrasive to your skin and can be used by those with sensitive skin as well as women who are pregnant or breast feeding. I do recommend doing a small skin test before smothering it all over your face to make sure you don't have a sensitivity to it.

So should you switch to using bakuchiol and/or rosehip oil rather that retinol? If you have super sensitive skin or you are pregnant or breast-feeding, I do recommend at least starting out with one of the two and seeing whether you get the results you are looking for.

At this point, we need more studies that compare retinol to bakuchiol and rosehip oil before drawing any solid conclusions but both ingredients look very promising and are definitely worth incorporating into your beauty regimen.

Comment below if you have tried either bakuchiol or rosehip oil and what your experience has been!

Until next time,

Dr. Alexes Hazen



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