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The Power of Retinol + Retinol Alternatives

The Power of Retinol + Retinol Alternatives

Retinoids, Retinol, Bio-Retinol, Retinalhyde, Retinoic Acid, Retinol Alternatives; we all want the pro-aging, skin beautifying benefits (plumping, firming, brightening and clearing the skin) these ingredients provide but what’s the difference and how do I find the one that is right for me? Let’s break down the powerhouse products that have made their way onto our skin care routines and are here to stay. 

Simply put, retinoids are the umbrella under which all the other forms come from. Each is a derivative of vitamin A and all work similarly in the skin to boost cell turnover and improve tone and texture, while also stimulating collagen production to ward off fine lines and wrinkles. The speed in which each works (and in turn how it affects the skin) is where the difference lies.


According to The Derm Review “Retinol is Vitamin A. Once it is absorbed into the skin it is converted into the active form, retinoic acid. Our skin cells contain receptors for retinoic acid which allow for the benefits such as faster skin cell turnover, reduction in appearance of hyperpigmentation and support of collagen production, to be achieved.” Retinoids are “pure retinoic acid so [they don’t] have to undergo processing in the body. Tretinoin is considered to be the strongest and is probably the most well studied of the retinoids and is associated with harsh side effects such as irritation, burning, peeling or stinging.”

In short, retinoids (pure retinoic acid) don’t have to be converted by the skin so they are instantly effective. They are prescription only and potentially irritating to the skin. Retinols, which are less effective because of the process entailed to turn into retinoic acid are less potent and less irritating. The retinol products that we carry at Wren and Wild are also filled with hydrating, calming and soothing secondary ingredients to reduce the risk of irritating the skin from the increase in cell turnover which sloughs off dead skin rapidly potentially causing redness or discoloration. 

Let’s start with our retinols. 


Odacité Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid Renewing Serum Powered by gold standard Retinol, hydrating Hyaluronic Acid and an intensely nourishing Vitamin Complex, this skin-compatible formula helps stimulate cell turnover and targets fine lines, deep wrinkles, skin texture and blemishes. With an extraordinary soft gel texture and the aphrodisiac allure of Rose, the senses will be enchanted and the skin visibly plumped

Augustinus Bader The Retinol Serum Pure Therapeutic Retinol complements TFC8® for healthier, rejuvenated skin,reducing the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles and blemishes for clear, smooth, even skin. Helps optimize the skin microbiome and helps prevent the overgrowth of unwanted bacteria, reduce the appearance of acne scars and hyperpigmentation and locks in moisture to keep skin hydrated, radiant, and plump.

Facile Reverse A combination of Pure Retinol and Niacinamide improves discoloration and increases your skin’s natural ceramides — AKA the glue that keeps skin looking youthful, healthy and hydrated. Known for its ultra-soothing qualities and antioxidant properties, Aloe is packed with skin-healing vitamins that deliver nutrients to tired cells. Panthenol is a moisture magnet that locks in hydration to keep skin plump and energized.

Youth To The People Retinol + Niacinamide Youth Serum Uses Retinaldehyde (the most potent Retinoid next to an Rx) and formulated with niacinamide, essential ceramides, and adaptogens that help retinal work smarter, not harder to deliver transformative, clinical results faster—without the typical irritation or acclimation stages.

While retinol is the star of the skin care show, and definitely easier than retinoids on our sensitive skin, brands are beginning to take the healing manta, ‘do no harm’, a step further by utilizing plant-based alternatives. After all, stronger does not always equate to ‘better’ and for those of us in dry climates or who deal with sensitive or sensitized skin could greatly benefit from these plant based beauties. 

Retinol Alternatives

Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil Uses Retinoic Acid from Rosehip providing a dose of anti-aging nutrition with plant-based vitamin A along with their nutrient-rich Farm Beauty Complex to smooth the look of wrinkles and support a healthy skin barrier.

One Love Organics Botanical A Bio-Retinol Night Serum This night serum features a bio-retinol derived from the Maclura Cochinchinensis leaf (also known as the cockspur plant), which is naturally rich in isoflavones and bioflavoinoids. Suitable for all skin tones and types, particularly those seeking a retinol alternative to clarify the complexion and fill in the look of fine lines and wrinkles.

Fitglow Beauty Phyto-Retinol Night Eye Balm  Is a blend of Phyto-Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin E. Phyto-Retinol is a plant retinol alternative that works smarter not harsher to naturally deliver advanced age-defying results without irritation.

Ilia Bright Start Retinol Alternative Eye Cream Sea Fennel Extract or ‘nature’s retinol’ is a sustainably sourced retinol alternative that visibly brightens, smooths and firms without the drawback of a traditional retinol.

Indie Lee Retinol Alternative Cream Formulated with Natural Retinol Alternative Rambutan - an antioxidant-rich fruit that has been shown to promote healthy collagen levels, improved appearance of elasticity, firmness, fine lines, and wrinkles.

Ready to add a retinol to your routine? With all of these choices and our educated skin care concierges at Wren and Wild there’s surely a safe and effective product that will suit your needs and have your sweet skin perfectly plumped in no time at all.