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I do not need to disclose the benefits of retinol (although I am always satisfied). Most of us know Vitamin A derivatives as the most frequently mentioned and recommended ingredient for skin types that help you feel better without makeup. The only word of warning for a large number of us is that its use is a literal pain. So it’s no surprise that retinol alternatives are flooding in to save the day (and our faces).
I’ve personally never had a negative reaction to a retinol product, but I wouldn’t deny the level of uncomfortable tingling that occurs if you apply more than a small amount to your face. And for anyone with sensitive skin, that can happen even if you’re using the recommended amount. and limit it to just a few nights a week. Really, nothing expresses “beauty is pain” better than this. So it’s no surprise that people are actually trading for what appears to be an equally effective substitute.
Finally, bakuchiol is undoubtedly the most popular ingredient to replace retinol in skin care routines. For one, it’s plant-based, automatically making switching decisions that feels like a responsible person. More specifically, it is derived from the seeds and leaves of the psoralea corylifolia, or babchi tree, native to India and Sri Lanka. It has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for wound healing but has only recently been tapped for its ability to smooth wrinkles and even reduce hyperpigmentation.
Word of mouth is great and all, but I can’t help but wonder if an eventual weight loss retinol version is as effective as the real thing. According to Peach & Lily founder and licensed esthetician Alicia Yoon, most signs point to yes.
“Retinol is very well researched. It’s an ingredient that’s one of the most studied. Having said that, there’s certainly a lot of clinical research on retinol right now, so it’s hard to know,” she said. “In 10 years or so, those (alternatives) might be possible. there will be a lot of funding and research behind it.” In summary, the number of trials and clinical studies performed to date is probably not accurate or complete enough to make a judgment.
Until then, whether we want to gamble with bakuchiol or another alternative method will largely depend on the experience of others. The advantage of Yoon is that the majority of people who share their experiences are seeing great results and should not be ignored. “For me personally, anecdotal comments from people who are actually trying the product every day consistently and approaching the product the right way are very helpful. That speaks volumes. And whether you’re using retinol or bakuchiol, the same application rules apply to both.
“When it comes to retinol, proceed with care and caution because you don’t want to overdo it. Yoon says it’s important to make sure you don’t mix too many other acids and the like. “For some skin types, there is definitely a phase that you have to go through before you start seeing real benefits. Bakuchiol or some other alternative ingredient—if you don’t want to go through that or even risk it—it could be a great thing to try. This is an especially smart decision if you’re a first-time retinol user and have an important event, such as a wedding, coming up.
“Start at the lowest amount and see how your skin reacts. It’s tempting because you want the same results as tomorrow, so you went to the extreme. “Skin care takes consistency and over time you’ll see better results because your skin doesn’t have to go through a stressful period that makes you take a few steps back,” says Yoon. If you want to start with something super gentle, here are the most popular retinol alternatives.
RELATED: The 5 Most Game-Changing Facial Wrinkle Serums—Each for under $35 on Amazon
Our mission at STYLECASTER is to bring style to everyone, and we only recommend products that we think you’ll love as much as we do. CLEARSTEM and Elemis are sponsors of STYLECASTER, however, all products in this article have been independently selected by our editors. Please note that if you buy something by clicking on the link in this story, we may receive a small commission of the sale.
Pro-Collagen Regenerative Serum
If your skin is sensitive to retinol, you must try this refreshing serum that works as strong as retinol but is much gentler. Its ingredients include Stevia extract, brown algae, and red microalgae, each of which have similar benefits to retinol. These combine to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, increase firmness, hydrate, and protect your skin. According to one user test, an impressive 97% of users say that this serum provides “all the anti-aging benefits of retinol without being too drying or irritating”.
CLEARSTEM HYDRAGLOW Stem Cell Moisturizing Cream
Enriched with bakuchiol, squalane and stem cells, this moisturizer helps your skin boost collagen production overnight. It will leave your skin plump, healthy and youthful. Plus, the formula eliminates any toxins that could damage skin or clog pores.
Sunday Riley A + High-Dose Retinol Serum
This 6.5% retinol serum is a combination of retinol esters and retinol replacement ingredients that promote gentler application.
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
If you want to cut (and steps) serums from your nightly routine, try this daily moisturizer infused with bakuchiol and squalane.
Versed Press Starts Gentle Retinol Serum
This is another mixed formula made up of encapsulated retinol and botanical alternatives to reduce irritation without affecting visible results.
Herbivore Botanicals Bakuchiol Retinol Replacement Serum
Herbivore’s Smoothing Serum is another best-selling bakuchiol product, also enriched with Tremella Mushroom for moisturizing and polyhydroxy acid, the mildest of chemical acids, to exfoliate.
bareMinerals Anti-Aging Night Essence 10% Phyto-Retinol
This lightweight lotion reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles thanks to the botanical phyto-retinol included in the formula. The formula is non-comedogenic and suitable for all skin types, ages and tones.
Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer
Get yourself a multitasking moisturizer like this one that moisturizes (ceramides and squalane), brightens (vitamin C) and reduces wrinkles (bakuchiol).
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
Try this lightweight, highly moisturizing serum between your cleanser and moisturizer for noticeable results minus irritation.
REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Aging Cream
In addition to bakuchiol, this moisturizer also includes a derivative of organic Brazilian Beggar White Flowers, which improves skin texture.
Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Bakuchiol Sleeping Crème
This night cream is made with bakuchiol to promote skin’s natural repair process while you sleep.
Algenist regenerative serum concentrate
Before applying moisturizer, use this oil-free serum, made with alguronic acid, a completely underrated and microalgae-based alternative to retinol.
Bakuchiol + Olive Oil Squalane Booster
This inexpensive booster—mixed with bakuchiol and olive oil—should be mixed with your moisturizer and serum to improve skin’s texture as you sleep.
Lancer Advanced Retinol Treatment
This unique formula includes a proprietary blend of actual retinol, bakuchiol and a soy complex that releases slowly into the skin.
Omorovicza Miracle Facial Oil
If you prefer oiling, this luxurious option will do just that, in addition to correcting wrinkles.
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