Is Retinol Safe? Common Retinol Concerns Debunked

While there isn’t a magic formula to completely prevent the signs of aging skin, there are a lot of ingredients out there that can help visibly restore your skin to appear radiant and plump-looking. One such ingredient is Retinol. 

Most skintellectuals have some idea of this ingredient’s ability to minimize the look of fine lines and wrinkles, you’ve likely come across Synthetic Retinol in your journey to the perfect anti-aging skincare routine

Unfortunately, in addition to all the benefits Synthetic Retinol claims to offer, it also comes with side effects that will affect how you can work it into your routine. 

If you’re wondering if Retinol is for you, but you’re wary of potentially damaging your skin, let’s talk about common Retinol concerns, and introduce you to a smarter way to retinol. 

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. It falls into the category of Retinoids, which is just a bigger class of Vitamin A derivatives.

Retinol tends to be weaker than Retinoids, so it’s commonly available in many over the counter beauty formulas. In contrast, Retinoids like Tretinoin are only available with a prescription from your doctor or dermatologist.

Because prescription Retinoids or prescription Retinol come in stronger solutions, they tend to be harsher on your skin compared to over-the-counter products. However, this doesn’t mean that over-the-counter Retinol isn’t effective. It just means that prescription Retinols and Retinoids are a lot stronger than what most people need, and the sensitizing effects of OTC Retinol are amplified with prescription versions of it

What About Phyto-Retinol?

When people talk about Retinol, they are virtually always talking about Synthetic Retinol.

Synthetic Retinol is one of the most commonly used ingredients in anti-aging formulas, but it’s also known for its sensitizing side effects that can lead to common Retinol concerns like  redness, irritation, and even peeling. 

While many people simply deal with the sensitizing effects, or even give up other parts of their skincare routine just so they can work in Synthetic Retinol into the rotation, the sad truth is that you can seriously damage both your skin barrier and skin microbiome because of Synthetic Retinol’s harsh sensitizing effects.

We’re not here to “debunk” these concerns, because they are, after all, very legitimate, real side effects that Synthetic Retinol can cause. 

We love Vitamin A’s powerful anti-aging effects, but harsh, sensitizing synthetics don’t have a place in our formulas. 

That’s why we developed a smarter way to retinol: Phyto-Retinol. 

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster harnesses your skin’s innate intelligence to deliver powerful anti-aging benefits without disrupting your complexion or delicate skin microbiome with sensitizing side effects.

Our perfectly dosed vegan capsules deliver Provitamin A Carotenoids to your skin, where they are naturally transformed into potent retinoic acid. This type of retinoic acid is highly biocompatible, offering the same benefits as Synthetic Retinol with zero sensitizing effects. 

Plant actives including Amaranth, Carrot Root Extract, and Buriti help to provide your skin with a rich helping of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, all while working happily alongside other skin-nourishing ingredients in your routine like Vitamin C, Lactic Acid, and Azelaic Acid. 

Zero side effects, zero interactions, just as nature intended. 

How Does Phyto-Retinol Work? 

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster takes advantage of our skin’s ability to transform Provitamin A into Retinoic Acid. In other words, our Phyto-Retinol formula delivers the potent supplies your skin needs to naturally produce one of the most potent, skin-compatible anti-aging secret weapons money can’t buy, all without sensitizing side effects or harsh synthetics.  

Phyto-Retinol harnesses your skin’s natural ability to fight visible signs of aging, including wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone

How Do I Use Phyto-Retinol in My Routine?

Unlike synthetic retinol, Phyto-Retinol has no known negative reactions with other ingredients, doesn’t irritate your skin, won’t make you photosensitive, and can be used in both the morning and the evening because it’s so gentle. 

So, how do you use Phyto-Retinol in your routine? Easily. 

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster helps fight visible signs of aging, including wrinkles, dark spots, and problems with skin tone evenness, using the biocompatible power of retinoic acid. Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster is microbiome-friendly and plays well with others, so that you can use it as part of both your morning and evening routine.

It’s also formulated with Calendula Oil, which is known as the ultimate savior for sensitized skin. If you’re switching to Phyto-Retinol after Synthetic Retinol wreaked havoc on your complexion and skin barrier, you want this naturally soothing oil in your lineup! 

Calendula instantly moisturizes and soothes irritated skin. Plus, our Calendula Oil comes from a regenerative farm that has particularly nutrient-dense soil. 

While using products made from plant-based and otherwise natural ingredients is key to sustainability, it’s also important to know where these ingredients come from. Regenerative farming is a huge help in the fight to reverse climate change — and as a bonus, it creates rich, nourishing, nutrient-dense ingredients!

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster is also ideal for all skin types, and it’s hypoallergenic — so no matter what your priorities are, Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster has something to offer.

Our Suggested Phyto-Retinol Routine

Start with a gentle yet effective cleanser like our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm to effectively remove makeup, sunscreen, dirt, and impurities while also giving your skin a rich helping of moisturizing nutrients.

Next, you can apply your serum of choice. If you want to add to the powerful anti-aging benefits of a Phyto-Retinol routine, our Chebula Active Serum can help. Chebula is one of the most powerful botanicals you can give your skin — it’s one of the most bioactive cascading antioxidants available, and it even beats out Acai in its ORAC score (which describes an ingredient’s ability to combat damaging free radicals in the skin). 

Chebula works with Hyaluronic Acid, Aloe Vera, Elderberry, Ginger, and Echinacea to deliver anti-aging benefits that leave skin feeling dewy, hydrated, and youthful-looking. 

After your serum, apply your Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster. Twist the vegan capsule to break it open, then pour the contents of the capsule into the palm of your hand and massage into your face and neck.

Because Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster has such a high concentration of carotenoids, it may give your skin a warm orange glow when applied. This tone will disappear as you blend it into your skin and apply your moisturizer, but if you’re using this booster as your final product right before bed, you may end up with a small amount of staining on your pillowcase if your sheets are light in color. Don’t worry, this should easily wash off with any eco-friendly stain remover.

We recommend finishing off your routine with a luxurious cream moisturizer, like our Chebula Extreme Cream — this will lock in the Phyto-Retinol Booster, whether you want it to last through the day, or you’d like to prevent those nourishing carotenoids from rubbing off on your sheets as you sleep!

Chebula Extreme Cream offers extreme hydration, extreme antioxidant benefits, and extreme skin barrier optimization.  And if the idea of a thick night cream sounds like a nightmare, you’ll sleep peacefully tonight — this breakthrough formula has zero pore-clogging waxes, so it delivers the moisture you need without congesting your pores. 

It’s also formulated with Hyaluronic Acid, a humectant that attracts water and helps bind that water to your skin. If hydration is standing between you and healthy, glowing skin, the power couple of our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin ABooster and Chebula Extreme Cream will have you looking and feeling soft, dewy, and supple in no time.

Why We Keep Synthetic Retinol Off Our Ingredient Lists

Retinol is a highly effective nutrient that offers authentic, long-term results when used properly. 

However, any mention of “Retinol” outside of our Phyto-Retinol tends to go hand in hand with the negative side effects of Synthetic Retinol in particular. Particularly with a skin condition like rosacea or eczema, it’s generally recommended to consult with a trusted professional before working Synthetic Retinol into your routine.

In addition to causing dry skin, using a Synthetic Retinol product can result in peeling and flaking. The process by which Synthetic Retinol encourages your skin cells to turn over more frequently means loosening the connection between the layers of your dermis, resulting in dryness. It’s not dissimilar to the experience of chemical exfoliation you’d get with an Alpha Hydroxy Acid.

Despite the side effects, Synthetic Retinol is considered “safe for use,” which is why a lot of skincare products include it as a star ingredient. These same products also usually claim that side effects can be minimized by gradually introducing Synthetic Retinol into your routine and avoiding other powerful ingredients like Vitamin C or exfoliators. 

Read: Synthetic Retinol doesn’t mix well with certain ingredients. For instance, Alpha Hydroxy Acids — because AHAs offer a lot of similar benefits as Synthetic Retinol, it might be tempting to double down to give your skin an extra anti-aging boost. However, you shouldn’t apply your Synthetic Retinol directly before or after using anything formulated with an AHA because it will likely be way too potent for your skin to handle and could result in redness and irritation. 

Similarly, while Vitamin C is great for brightening, and Benzoyl Peroxide is a star at fighting breakouts, these skincare ingredients don’t pair well with Synthetic Retinol. If you’re a Vitamin C devotee, or breakouts are a concern for you, it’s going to take some day-by-day planning if you want to work Synthetic Retinol into your routine. 

The most common recommendation is to not layer Retinol with these other ingredients. You can continue using Vitamin C if you, for instance, apply Vitamin C in the morning and Synthetic Retinol in the evening. If you usually apply an AHA or BHA solution in the evening, many companies will recommend you alternate it with Synthetic Retinol to get the potential skin wellness benefits of both.

On that note, rather than jumping right in, Synthetic Retinol is usually applied only two or three times per week to try and give your skin time to rest in-between applications. This generally helps to minimize sensitivity and irritation as the skin tries to adjust to the potent ingredient. 

Another important thing to be aware of with Synthetic Retinol is that it makes your skin photosensitive, i.e. more vulnerable to sun damage. If you aren’t already actively using sunscreen with a high SPF as part of our routine, it’s worth working into your routine anyway, but that goes double when you’re using a synthetic Retinol serum. 

This photosensitivity is the main reason Synthetic Retinol should generally only be applied once a day at most, generally as part of an evening routine. 

This isn’t the case with Phyto-Retinol, which typically doesn’t affect skin sensitivity to sunlight, and can be used twice a day to get twice the benefits.

We think choosing Phyto-Retinol is the smarter, easier choice for nourished skin. If you can get all of the results you’re looking for with a plant-based, skin barrier-friendly product, what’s the point of suffering through what may potentially be weeks of side effects with Synthetic Retinol?

In Conclusion

Retinol can be incredibly effective in fighting visible signs of aging in your skin, and by using plant-derived Phyto-Retinol in place of harsh Synthetic Retinols like like BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene), you’re giving your skin the anti-aging benefits that this powerful Vitamin A derivative has to offer. 

Brightening dullness, evening out skin tone, and nourishing the skin microbiome are just a few of the things our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster can do!

Although talk of negative side effects can make Retinol seem like a no-go, you can rest easy knowing that Phyto-Retinol takes care of all of that, so you can give your skin all the benefits of retinoic acid without a single sensitizing effect in sight. 

Looking for more ways to nourish and rejuvenate sensitive skin? Explore our Calm collection here


Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging: An Overview of Clinical Efficacy and Safety | US National Library of Medicine

Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin | US National Library of Medicine

Alpha Hydroxy Acids | Food and Drug Administration