So you’ve watched all of my videos, you’ve tried all the hacks.

And yet you STILL can’t get on with retinoids. What do you do to access that glow? To sort out those breakouts? To master pigmentation?? Alas, it does happen.

Or perhaps it’s simply the matter that you’re pregnant, so retinoids are off-limits. What then?

All is not lost! Here’s how you can multi-task with the right ingredients to create a faux-retinoid effect, allowing you to build a retinol-free routine that will make your skin look great.

What can I use if I can’t use retinol?

The best place to start? Niacinamide. As the most gentle of actives, this is a good litmus test. It has a host of benefits that overlap with retinoids - collagen building, pore-clearing and pigmentation-reducing - and it boosts the skin barrier. By pre-treating with this, you create greater skin resilience which increases tolerability of the things you apply next.

What works well with niacinamide?

It’s time for some azelaic acid. Another active with a host of complimentary benefits including anti-inflammatory effects and redness reduction, this is brilliant for blemish-prone skin and post-acne marks.

What about the signs of aging?

May I suggest a layer of bakuchiol. This activates retinoid receptors without actually being a retinoid, a bit like picking a lock and really gets to work on the signs of sun damage.

This would absolutely be my 3 hero ingredients to approximate to a retinoid.

If we look at the benefits of retinol and how these overlap with it, it breaks down like this:

Retinoids - normalise keratinization = Azelaic Acid

Retinoids - increase cell turnover = Bakuchiol

Retinoids are anti-inflammatory = Azelaic Acid + Bakuchiol + Niacinamide

Retinoids reduce pigmentation = Azelaic Acid + Bakuchiol + Niacinamide

Retinoids stimulate collagen production = Bakuchiol + Niacinamide

So you can see that this high-performance trio give good value and synergy to cover the missing vitamin A in your routine.

You can of course layer these individually - Inkey List and The Ordinary will cover this.

Or you could grab some Flawless Brightly Serum and achieve the same thing in a single layer, and as a bonus you can use it twice a day.Your choice! But hopefully this has lifted your spirits and banished your retinoid FOMO!