Retinol is actually one of the most misunderstood skincare ingredients for several reasons. Let's look at what it is and how to use it in your skin care regimen. Retinoids are a class of anti-ageing compounds that have been used in skin care for decades. Retinoic acid was first discovered when patients undergoing chemotherapy reported that their skin became dramatically smoother after experiencing severe dryness, peeling and irritation . This led researchers to investigate more closely what chemicals could cause these symptoms, which led them to retinoic acid. Since then, there has been an explosion of research on this amazing compound. Retinol is simply another name given to Vitamin A, which has also been called "the anti-ageing vitamin". The powerhouse ingredient has the ability to stimulate collagen and promote cell turnover, which can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation spots and redness. The miracle of it all, however, comes at a cost. Retinol, like retinoic acid, is a highly unstable and delicate ingredient that is very sensitive to oxygen and light exposure and breaks, sometimes in as little as one month after opening. This is why it's important to use a fresh product that has been packaged in an airless pump or as a gel and to avoid touching the applicator tip to your skin (you can be transferring all kinds of bacteria this way). Because of the irritation factor, retinol has given rise to another trend: natural retinol. Natural retinols are skincare ingredients, typically plant-based, that have been shown to deliver many of the same benefits alternatives like retinols provide. The two best-known are rosehip oil and bakuchiol, which are ingredients that have been shown to boost the skin's own production of collagen and hyaluronic acid. There are a few reasons you might want to consider a natural retinol alternative. They're typically much less irritating, meaning you can use them for longer without stopping.

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