The Dirty on Clean Retinol

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The Dirty on Clean Retinol

I’ve been looking into retinol a lot more lately, because I’m totally getting technology neck!  When we enter our 30s, our natural collagen and cell repair processes start slowing down.

Retinol is an ingredient best incorporated to minimize fine lines and slow the aging process. But, unfortunately retinol can affect our health in some pretty harmful ways.

Scroll to read more about retinol and shop the products I use.

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What is retinol?

Retinol is a vitamin-A deritive and a weaker, over-the-counter version of prescription retinoids.


What are the benefits?

Retinol is the most effective ingredient for softening lines, increases cell turnover, tightening pores and fading dark spots.


Why is it toxic?

Unfortunately, synthetic retinol can increase the chance of birth defects, liver toxicity, and cancer.

One of the most common retinoids is Accutane. Maybe you’ve been on it or had a friend on it to treat acne. It’s extremely powerful, and it’s known to cause birth defects and liver toxicity.

Another common retinoid is tretinoin which treats acne. But, it causes serious sun sensitivity and photocarcinogenicity - in which retinol can cause cancer when in the presence of UV light.

Photocarcinogenicity raises concern for the Environmental Working Group, a database of cosmetics, ingredients and health concerns.

A lot of retinol products are loaded with BHT and parabens which has been linked to toxicity in lung tissues by the International Journal of Toxicology. While products with BHT and parabens are really common in cosmetics, I’ve found a few clean retinol products that are completely transparent.

All these clean retinol products are not tested on animals, have no synthetic fragrances or dyes, BHT, BHA or any other toxic chemicals.

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Honest Beauty 

Younger + Clearer Night Serum with Honestly Pure Retinol

Honest Beauty

Retinol is plant-based and derived from wintergreen (aromatic herb used mostly for essential oils) and the product contains salicylic acid which treats and prevents breakouts. Normally, if you put salicylic acid and retinol together it would be very harsh for any time of skin, but through the way they derive it and encapsulate it, it totally works as anti-aging and preventing acne. If you have adult acne, this is great.

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Tata Harper

Retinoic Face Oil

Tata Harper

This retinol product is filled with vitamins, amino acids, minerals and antioxidants. It hydrates and brightens skin for a more radiant complexion. Although it is an oil, it’s formulated so that it does to control excess sebum. All products are formulated, manufactured and packaged on the Tata Harper farm in Vermont.

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100 Percent Pure

Retinol Restorative Neck Cream

100 Percent Pure

This retinol products contains hyaluronic acid and olive squalane (an ingredient usually derived from shark liver) for hydration. It also has niacinamide which brightens and evens skin tone. And, the retinol is derived from carrots.

Few things to look out for

Retinoids can make the skin more sensitive and dry, so be sure to counterbalance it with moisturizers.

I recommend starting with every other night to minimize irritation then you can build up to every night once you have a consistent cellular turnover.

Have you used a retinol product before? Was it clean? Let me know about your experience in the comments below.