Is plant-based retinol better for you and the planet? Here’s everything you need to know

The “clean beauty” movement will likely be worth more than $42 million by 2030, with plant-based retinol the latest development you need to have on your radar - here’s everything you need to know…     

As our commitment to skincare increases, so does our desire for more planet-friendly approaches to looking and feeling good without compromise on quality.

At the top of our list of key beauty ingredients we’re looking at? Retinol.

The skin-smoothing, line-busting, tightening ingredient is one of the trifecta of actually effective skincare (the other two being vitamin C and SPF).

While the vitamin A format is well known, the plant-based version can have just as much bang for your buck.

That said, knowing your retinaldehydes from your vitamin types is practically education, so to help iron out the details and incorporate it into your routine seamlessly, we sought the expertise of  Dr Ahmed El Muntasar, founder of The Aesthetics Doctor. Here’s what he had to say…

What are the benefits of retinol? 

As a derivative of vitamin A, the main thing retinoids do is increase cell turnover, meaning it keeps your skin shedding faster so you keep getting fresh layers of skin from underneath.

This can help with hyperpigmentation, scarring, dull skin, acne – and generally they are an amazing anti-ageing ingredient, that experts like Dr Ahmed go back to time and time again. 

Why choose plant-based retinol?

Plant-based skincare is eco-friendly, so it’s better for the environment, animal-friendly and they usually don’t have as many chemicals as synthetic skincare – which means waste from these products isn’t as harmful to nature. The good news is, Dr Ahmed says it can be just as effective as the products you’re used to, so there’s no compromise on the cards.

The ingredients start off in nature and then are made in the lab. This is because it is much easier to synthesise a large quantity of an ingredient and then sell it commercially than get it from nature directly.

Some of the most popular plant-based retinols that Dr Ahmed sees are bakuchiol, rose-hip oil, broccoli seed and peach, taking the oils from these plants and using them to create the retinol.

Where should you introduce plant-based retinol into your routine?

Retinol usually sits in your night-time routine. Dr Ahmed suggests using it after you’ve cleansed and after you’ve toned the skin. 

That being said, you can incorporate it into your morning routine by switching up your existing products with ones that are retinol-infused for that extra burst of line-busting power.

The night-time routine 

We typically turn to retinol at night-time because it can make you that bit more sun-sensitive and you’re also less exposed to environmental factors such as pollution, and generally less likely to have anything touching your face.

After cleansing, apply two pumps of bareMinerals’ Ageless 10% Phyto-Retinol Night Concentrate, which uses a plant-based retinol sustainably sourced from the picão preto plant. It’s combined with hyaluronic acid and protein peptides to pack a moisture punch and keep your skin looking plump. Then tap Ageless Phyto-Retinol eye cream on the sensitive skin around your eyes.

Your mum will tell you that your skincare should also go down to your neck and décolletage, and she ain’t wrong – at the same time as you apply the night concentrate, try the Ageless Phyto-Retinol neck cream from your jawline downwards. This Phyto-Retinol range from the bareMinerals range works for every skin type, so it’s a really great one to integrate into your routine. And while vitamin-derived retinol is usually a no-go for people who are trying to conceive, or are pregnant or nursing, this plant-based version is typically safe (although check with your doctor anyway).

The daytime routine

When it comes to your AM routine, blend Ageless Phyto-Retinol cream (which is gentle enough to be a daily cream) with bareMinerals’ Skinlongevity Long Life Herb Serum. The serum is packed with niacinamide and California poppy to strengthen your skin and protect against daily stressors and the duo leaves your skin glowing.

While you should always be applying SPF30 as the final stage before putting on your make-up, the Phyto-Retinol range actually doesn’t increase your sensitivity to UV the way other retinols do, so it’s safer to wear in the day.

Is plant-based retinol just as effective? 

As Dr Ahmed says, plant-based retinol is often just as effective as vitamin retinol. But because they are a natural source of ingredients, they are usually a lot gentler on the skin compared to synthetic products, so while your skin is less likely to dry or break out, it can take longer to see the full effect.

Are there any side-effects of using plant-based retinol? 

As with any retinol, you should start slowly and increase use in your routine over time so you skin can build up a tolerance. Dr Ahmed recommends you always start with the weakest strength and then build up gradually over a number of weeks as your skin gets used to it. Try one use in week one, two uses for two weeks and three uses from then on. 

bareMinerals is the creator of clean beauty products that are skin-improving, Earth-conscious and cruelty-free. They function with the belief that if we look good, we feel good and we do good.

From skincare to make-up, its products take care of your skin and the planet while you wear them. Shop the Ageless range below - made of proven plant-based alternatives, without irritation.