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An Inclusive Retinol Serum

Jul 19, 2022

Those of us with melanin-rich skin have heard the retinol warnings, we’ve also heard theTikTok hacks and rave reviews. With new retinol products benefiting all skin types, it’s time to revisit retinol, dispel the rumors, and ditch the hacks to better understand how a retinol can be formulated especially for you.

Rumor Has It…
If you were to Google “is retinol bad for melanin rich skin” the large print at the top would in a word, tell you yes. For years we’ve been told to avoid retinol that it can cause more dark spots, discoloration & damage. The truth is that this speaks to stronger, prescription strength formulations designed to aggressively exfoliate and super speed the renewal process. Thankfully, not all retinol is created equal.

It’s true that many with melanin-rich skin do experience hyper-sensitivity, but it’s not a given that skin tone entirely dictates skin type. While everyone has melanocytes, cells that produce melanin, some of us produce more. When that melanin production is disrupted, inflammation, irritation, or discoloration can occur. This makes it extra important to know everything about skincare products, especially considering most were not created for or tested on the more melanated among us.

How to find the right retinol for melanated skin

At the perfect percentage and in a thoughtful formulation, retinol can be approachable and effective for sensitive, melanin-rich skin, for all  skin — that’s what we set out to prove with our Retinol Serum. Here’s how we did it and what you can look for:

  • Understand your retinol percentage (and go low): Some derms recommend no higher than 0.5% to start. We use a gentle 0.2% and enhance retinol’s benefits with other ingredients your skin loves.
  • Find a formula with bonus skin-smoothers: A lower percentage can be just as effective with complimentary ingredients. We boost retinol’s best benefits with intentional botanicals: paracress reduces wrinkles, huangchi detoxifies and regenerates, anti-inflammatory safflower oil brightens hyperpigmentation and protects against sun damage. Our serum also features algae oil to support a healthy skin barrier, and plant-derived squalane, which mimics natural moisturizers which your body produces less of as you age.  
  • Look for inclusive trials: With a powerful active ingredient like retinol, look for companies that have included those with melanated skin in their formulation and trials.

Retinol is no longer the thing to run from. The benefits of perfectly formulated retinol can be a rewarding, renewing experience for all.