Chances are good that your baby faced coworker and just about every model, actress or passerby with time-defying good skin has used some form of retinol. The gold-standard highly-studied skincare ingredient is derived from vitamin A and proven to increase cell turnover, help boost collagen, reduce fine lines, demolish acne and even-out skin tone. Sounds too good to be true? For some, it is.
Ridiculous list of clinically-proven benefits aside, retinol has a bad rap for being a bit harsh. It can be irritating and drying, causing redness, flaky skin and major sensitivity. We also have to be careful about where it comes from and how it was produced to avoid synthetic versions, toxic fillers or preservatives.
Fortunately, we’ve found a handful of green brands that have formulated natural retinol serums with balancing botanicals to offset the negative effects of the fiercely effective ingredient. Some have even started using swapping over to bakuchiol, a fully plant-based retinol alternative that comes from the seeds and leaves of the babchi plant (traditionally used in Chinese medicine to treat skin diseases) and is proven to achieve the same results as retinol but without risk of irritation.
Try out these superstar natural retinol serums a few nights a week, or if you’re feeling bold (and have skin that can handle a little more power) slather one on nightly and prepare to be impressed. Just make sure you always wear SPF on the morning after as even the most balanced blends below can make skin a little extra vulnerable to sunburns…
Asarai Sleeper Cell Serum | This clean-feeling natural retinol serum from Australia is infused with a botanical formula specifically blended to enhance the benefits of retinol while reducing irritation and redness. Slather some onto a clean face before you go to sleep and wake up looking brighter, tighter and perfectly not red. CHECK OUT
Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil | perfectly 11 vitamins, 18 nutrients and neroli are packed into this face oil with retinoic acid from rosehips. CHECK OUT
100% Pure Retinol Restorative Overnight Balm | Natural carrot-derived natural retinol combines with rich avocado butter and plant oils to form a luxurious anti-aging balm that improves elasticity, texture, and tone overnight. The nourishing balm restores brightness to skin, help reduce fine lines and is suitable even for sensitive skin. CHECK OUT
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum | This lightweight yet super effective serum features bakuchiol, a plant-derived alternative to retinol that is ideal for those who can’t tolerate the traditional stuff. Just like clinical retinol, bakuchiol reduces the look of fine lines, firms up skin and evens out tone — without causing irritation or redness. Blended with hyaluronic acid and squalane, the serum locks in moisture, unloads major benefits and doesn’t do any damage along the way. CHECK OUT
Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Night Oil | This replenishing retinol oil intensively hydrates and stimulates sluggish cells to encourage repair and renewal while you sleep. It’s formulated to support collagen synthesisto increase elasticity. Cold-pressed avocado, chia and concord grape seed extracts are combined to help the skin build strength, resilience and radiance.CHECK OUT
Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum | Mad Hippie’s Vitamin A Serum combines hyaluronic acid and HPR, a highly bioavailable form of retinol, to gently exfoliate the skin, plump up fine lines and hydrate deeply. This potent formula works best on skin that can tolerate a slightly more aggressive formula — it works like a dream to even out discoloration. CHECK OUT
Mara Algae Retinol Face Oil | This retinol-powered face oil is made to be used at night and formulated with powerful plant ingredients to dramatically reduce the signs of aging. The oil is enriched with 20 amino acids, antioxidant-rich green tea and moisture-locking primrose oil and brown seaweed. Use regularly to smooth out your complexion and get a major glow going. CHECK OUT