The Natural Alternative to Retinol I'm Obsessed With

As many of you may know, I'm an avid user of retinoids. They are one of my Holy Grail skincare items and one of the key things that helped me get over my adult-onset acne in my mid to late thirties and are known as the gold standard in anti-aging. Because of this, retinols and retinoids have become big business.

The Difference?
Retinoids are typically considered the prescription-strength version you can only get through your doctor or dermatologist. They come in various strengths and formulations. These are 20 times stronger than retinol. 
Retinol is typically considered to be the over-the-counter version that you can purchase online or at beauty and department stores or the like.

The Problem:
With both, there is an adjustment period. If you have a retinoid, your doctor knows your skin type and has given you the appropriate dosage and thoroughly counseled you on how to add this into your regimen. That being said, you still may experience redness and flakiness. With OTC retinols, you are on your own. The upside is that since they are much less potent, they might be easier to incorporate but no one is there to counsel you and often people just apply and experience horrible side effects. With both, adequate sunscreen needs to be adhered to. I feel this is a non-statement in this day and age but there are still people out there who are still not wearing the adequate amount of sunscreen on a daily basis and causing themselves harm. Side effects prevent many people from continuing thinking this just isn't for them.

The Solution:

Bakuchiol comes from the babchi plant and is indigenous to India and China. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese skincare remedies. In 2014, the International Journal of Cosmetic Science published a clinical study of retinol vs bakuchiol citing that twice a day facial application of bakuchiol for 12 weeks resulted in significant improvement in "lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, elasticity, firmness and overall reduction in photo-damage." This was observed without the typical retinol side effects.

Because most retinol products are designed for once daily application and the study clearly states twice-daily application, it's vitally important to get as much bakuchiol in a product (or products) as you can. There are many great products available with this ingredient available right now but as far as I know (feel free to correct me) only one dedicated line.

Beautycounter : Countertime

Beautycounter's Countertime. Brand new. Every. Single. Product. has bakuchiol in it. And not just in it - but above-the-fold in the ingredients list.

Three years in the making, their new (plant-derived) Retinatural Complex is patent-pending and also features Swiss Alpine Rose to aid in protecting skin against environmental stressors, dehydration and boosts skin's antioxidant defense.

And you know me, hello! CLEANSING OIL! I've been using a number of Beautycounter's cosmetics for a while now because I've found a few absolute favorites that have rounded out my beauty bag but (for my skin) didn't really fall in love with much of their skincare. (Unless you're oily or slightly acne-prone, then I can give you a few great recs!) But the minute I saw that they were adding this cleansing oil to their collection I just about lost my mind. When I rang up my friend Carmen and she (sorry Carm) gave me the secret details on the entire line I immediately went to town looking up all the ingredients, comparing them to what I had. Cross-checking on cosdna and then all the science sites. And then proceeding to pre-order everything to try it all out. Whew. You know I'm thorough. So finally, Beautycounter has come through with a (let's call it pro-aging) line with a natural retinol alternative with ALL THE ACTIVES. Bravo!

Basically, what I'm saying is - every step - twice a day  - you're getting bakuchiol - and a ton of other powerhouse age-defying players. Oooh - and if you are using a retinoid that works for you? You can totally incorporate these products into your routine. And, Beautycounter being Beautycounter, these products are EWG-friendly and free of all the 1500 questionable ingredients on their Never List

The Collection:

Countertime Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil

Countertime Mineral Boost Hydrating Essense

Countertime Tripeptide Radiance Serum

Countertime Antioxidant Soft Cream

Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream

Countertime Ultra Renewal Eye Cream

If you don't have a regimen you love, this a great starting place. If you do, incorporating a few of these gems could make a huge difference in age prevention, fine lines and evening out skin tone! I'll let you know when I'm done swooning...

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