What Does Natural Retinol Do for Your Skin?

Retinol is perhaps the number one anti-aging ingredient, at least as advertised by skincare companies all across the world. The way they talk about it, retinol is a wonder-molecule, capable of turning back the clock in a miraculous way, making wrinkles disappear!

But while retinol is quite effective, and it provides multiple benefits for your skin, it’s important to know exactly how this molecule works and what you can expect when using retinol-boosted skincare products. 

Furthermore, let’s examine what natural retinol sourced botanically from Moth Bean can do for your skin, and whether you should prioritize absorbing retinol from natural food products as opposed to through creams.

What is Retinol? 

Let’s first get some basic definitions out of the way.

Retinol is a kind of molecule and part of a larger category called retinoids. You might have heard that retinol is exactly the same thing as vitamin A, but it’s more accurate to say that retinol is a permutation of vitamin A, and one of the more common ones at that.

Retinol, and its ability to help your skin in a variety of ways, has become one of the most popular natural skincare ingredients on the market. 

While most other anti-aging or anti-acne products operate by removing dead skin cells, retinol instead penetrates below your epidermis, or the outermost layer of skin, to reach a lower layer called the dermis. It’s here, in this middle layer of skin, that retinol can protect the skin from free radical molecules that can impact cellular renewal and cause damage over time.

By guarding against those free radicals, the skin’s production of both collagen and elastin – two key molecules that help your skin to maintain its useful look in shape – can increase. The result? Retinol essentially reduces the appearance of fine lines, enlarged pores, and even deeper wrinkles. Simultaneously, retinol provides a light exfoliating effect since it plumps up your skin and supports the cellular renewal process. 

This isn’t exactly the same thing as a traditional exfoliating product, which either neutralizes or physically removes dead skin cells. But it still has the end result of boosting your skin’s tone and texture.

For many years, skincare product manufacturers have primarily used a synthetic version of retinol formulated in a lab. This is so effective that lab-made retinol can simulate the real thing. But now, some skincare product manufacturers and scientists are looking at natural retinol as an alternative to the lab-made stuff. We’re happy to say Suki is one of those companies and our retinol is botanically sourced from Moth Bean!

Retinol vs Retinoids

As mentioned, retinoids are a type of molecule related to the broader vitamin A molecular umbrella. In fact, there are multiple types of retinol/retinoids. Just a few examples are:

  • Pure retinol
  • Retinaldehyde
  • Retinyl esters
  • Prescription retinol medications like Tretinoin

Like we said before, the vast majority of retinoids are made in a lab using synthetic manufacturing processes. This has allowed skincare product makers to create plenty of retinol for their consumers. Some synthetic retinol molecules can also bind to retinoid receptors in the skin. This can, in turn, inspire cells to increase their collagen production even higher than they would normally.

Natural Retinol Compared to Synthetic

In nature, retinol is usually found from various animal food sources. Your body doesn’t make retinol at all, so you have to consume or otherwise absorb retinol in order to get its beneficial effects.

Most animal retinol comes from sources like eggs, fish, chicken, beef, and other animal livers. However, you can also get enough retinol for your diet from vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, cantaloupe, and pumpkin. The fact is that most natural retinol sources don't offer the quantities needed for skincare products, which is why skincare companies have traditionally used the synthetic stuff.

But just because something is synthetic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s harmful. Indeed, the synthetic retinol that most people have been using for decades expertly mimics the molecule that you find in nature. This is why people don’t usually have adverse side effects to retinol or products that contain the molecule.

This being said, some synthetic retinol molecules are a little too strong or too mild to coerce the desired effects. As a result, some people are turning to natural retinol alternatives like Moth Bean. 

Is There a Big Difference?

No. Natural and synthetic retinol can both be helpful for your skin and largely provide the same benefits. However, if you’ve already tried a product with synthetic retinol as one of its ingredients and your skin either hasn’t received the appropriate benefits or has reacted negatively, you might consider getting retinol from food sources or botanically sourced.

The main difference really comes in using all natural skincare products, that not only include all-natural ingredients, but include only all-natural ingredients, even down to the source of the vitamins. 

Does Natural Retinol Still Help Your Skin?

Yes! Remember, people have had very diverse diets for thousands of years, so they’ve been absorbing retinol for the same amount of time. Just because you don’t use a synthetic retinol product doesn’t mean you won’t see the same beneficial side effects, so long as you maintain a diet of foods rich in retinol and other retinoids.

The benefits you can expect from natural retinol include:

  • Reduction in the appearance of blemishes. This is more of a proxy benefit than a direct result. In a nutshell, retinol stimulates collagen production and helps to reduce free radical molecular damage. It essentially makes your skin overall healthier, and therefore less likely to break out than it would otherwise. You should still utilize anti-acne medications or skincare products to really double down on this if acne is an issue, however.
  • Reduction in the appearance of fine line reduction and wrinkles. Both of these benefits are the main reason why people target retinol in face youth serums and eye creams. As explained earlier, retinol can help your skin produce more collagen, which will make it firmer and plumper than before, as well as lightly exfoliate your skin.
  • Reduction in the visibility of sunspots and other signs of sun aging. Like with blemish reduction, retinol has the ability to make your skin look and feel better by reducing all types of sun damage. By boosting collagen production, your skin will make healthier and younger skin cells much better than before, and it’ll suffer less incidental damage from free radical molecular damage. This is especially true with sun damage.
  • Reduction in the appearance of hyperpigmentation. If you suffer from apparently random dark spots on your skin or splotchy this, foods with retinol can help, as can creams with natural or synthetic retinol.

Here at Suki Skincare, we proudly use all-natural, Moth Bean-derived retinol. It’s a key ingredient in our Radical Results Youth Serum, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as a primary effect of its prevention in premature aging and targeting the cycle of unhealthy aging. In these efforts, it also jump starts collagen and elasticity, ultimately firming, toning, and strengthening skin. 

You can also find Moth Bean-derived retinol in our Purifying Face Serum and Balancing Lotion!

Do Synthetic and Natural Retinol Cause Side Effects? 

Sometimes, but that’s largely because most retinol is applied directly to your skin rather than because of any factor of the retinol itself.

Lots of people who use retinol products can experience dry or irritated skin, particularly if they are using a new product that their skin isn’t used to. This is partially because your skin is producing more collagen and is stretching, so your body hasn’t yet compensated for the additional moisture required.

You may also experience mild side effects like itchiness, redness, and peeling skin when you try out a new retinol product.

The good news is that all these side effects are temporary and should improve within a few weeks. Your skin will eventually get used to its new interior volume and will produce the needed moisture to compensate. Similarly, it’ll be able to handle the increased workload demanded by boosting collagen production. Your skin will look and feel better all across the board!

In the meantime, you can reduce any irritation from retinol products by washing your face and only applying retinol products 30 minutes later. This will lower the likelihood that the retinol will dry out your skin.

You can alternatively apply a moisturizing product after using a retinol product.

Lastly, consider only applying retinol products at night. This will lower the amount of stress your skin is placed under throughout the day and will give the retinol plenty of time to absorb into your skin without drying things out too much.

The Bakuchiol Alternative

Bakuchiol is a recent natural retinol alternative starting to be used in many all-natural skincare products. Bakuchiol comes from the seeds of the Psoralea corylifolia plant, and it has a very different molecular structure compared to traditional retinol and doesn’t resemble most vitamin A derivatives.

Still, it functions pretty similarly to retinol by stimulating the same cell renewal processes and stimulating better collagen production in your skin.


At the end of the day, retinol is an amazingly helpful molecule and there are plenty of reasons why it’s been a mainstay in skincare products for decades. While the industry may eventually move toward natural retinol alternatives as a whole, we’re happy to be one of the few to wholly and fully commit to providing you with completely all natural skincare products





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