Retinol: Clean or Dirty? Spoiler: Dirty!

Posted by Hannah Galloway on

Retinol has become the go to anti-aging product for women wanting to keep their skin youthful. Retinol, a substance derived from Vitamin A, is typically known as a natural alternative to botox as it is known to soften the skin, even out skin tone and prevent wrinkles. It does this by stripping the outer layer of skin promoting cell regeneration and collagen production which gives the appearance of younger skin. So, whats the harm? 

  • Increased risk of skin cancer has been linked to retinol use on sun exposed skin. Vitamin A causes skin growth which in sunlight forms small molecules called free radicals that damage DNA and can lead to skin cancer. Stay away from any day time products containing retinol and its derivatives including sunscreen, face serum and face cream. 
  • BHT and Paraben exposure which are toxins known to cause cancer and reproductive issues. Companies use these ingredients to stabilize the retinol in their products and will not show up on the ingredients list. 
  • Potential for liver damage, hair loss and osteoporosis from toxic levels of Vitamin A. Many of the foods we consume contain Vitamin A so retinol may push your Vitamin A levels in toxic amounts. 
  • Potential for birth defects as emerging research has shown that too much Vitamin A in pregnant women can lead to birth defects in a developing fetus. As the research is still very new all women who are pregnant, or planning to conceive, are cautioned to discontinue retinol use. 
  • Dry skin is the most common side effect of retinol use. Many women report dry, flaky, irritated skin causing discomfort and appearance insecurity. 

After the age of 20, human skin begins to lose about 1% of collagen each year and this can be exacerbated by stress, diet and substance abuse. So what alternatives can we use instead of Retinol to help with anti-aging? 


Initial research shows this completely natural alternative to retinol produces the same results in terms of stimulating anti aging qualities, stimulating collagen production, and slowing signs of aging. Bakuchiol is derived from the seed of the babchi plant long used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. 

Shop our natural retinol alternatives containing Bakuchiol:


Rosehip extract is the oil from the pressed seed of the rose plant. High in omega-6 fatty acids and a range of vitamins it has been shown to increase collagen production, skin elasticity, smooth fine wrinkles and increase the skin's moisture level and elasticity.

Shop our natural retinol alternatives containing Rosehip:

TLDR: Retinol use may contribute to skin cancer, reproductive issues, birth defects, fertility issues, liver damage, hair loss and dry skin. At FEISTY we stay away from any products containing Retinol as there are completely natural products that have been proven to produce similar results. Here are our top three: Moonflower Botanical Retinol Serum, Futurize Retinol Alternative Boosting Serum and Youth Dew Face Elixir.  

Talk soon,



Dhaliwal, S. et al. (2018). Prospective, randomize, double-blind assessment of topical bakuchiol and retinol for facial photoageing. British Journal of Dermatology, 180 (2), 289 - 296. Link

Environmental Working Group. (2020). The problem with vitamin A. Blog Post. Link

Gabillet, Annie. The Truth About Retinol - A Powerful Yet Controversial Ingredient. Safe Make Up Project. Link.

Hazen, Alexes (2021). Retinol vs. Natural Alternatives Bakuchiol and Rosehip Oil. Blog Post. Link.

Lee, Michelle (2020). The Detrimental Side Effects of Retinol: Beyond Beauty Products. Portland State University. Link.

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