Retinol is considered a somewhat magical ingredient in skincare, thanks to its ability to erase signs of aging and attack acne
. But it’s not the only way to score a clearer, brighter, and tighter complexion. We spoke with some of our go-to skin care experts to share a few of their favorite products (as well as our own suggestions) that deliver similar results without the worry of side effects, including dry, flaky skin and redness. Scroll ahead to see them all!
Ole Henriksen Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum:
Bakuchiol(pronounced bay-coo-key-ul) is a plant-based retinol alternative that has been making waves in the world of skincare (and on Pinterest, where searches are up 275 percent). The antioxidant, featured in this pick as well as others, is "derived from the plant psoralea corylifolia, also known as the babchi plant, traditionally used in ancient Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine," says NYC-based board-certified dermatologist Marisa Garshick.
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80):
Vitamin C is a nimble skincare ingredient that Mona Gohara
, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine
, says is “a perfect antioxidant that helps to reduce sun damage and fine lines.” She loves this Drunk Elephant serum that uses its C-Firma to reveal a more radiant visage.
Bioeffect EGF Eye Serum ($58):
Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a polypeptide developed to speed up wound recovery but is becoming a big ingredient in skincare as it promises to help pump up production of collagen. This little rollerball calms any puffiness that might appear from the night before as well as firms and brightens your eyes before you have to face the day.
Mario Badescu Peptide Renewal Cream ($35):
The name might bring visions of drying lotions and enzyme cleansers to mind. But this moisturizer is made to slow down the sag of skin and wrinkles with the power of peptides and hyaluronic acid for firmness and hydration. “For the retinol intolerant, these are great for building collagen and reducing its breakdown,” Gohara says.
Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil ($72):
has been touted in skincare circles for its ability to hydrate and soften. When combined with anti-agers like vitamin c and rose, known to sooth and sanitize, this oil is bound to boost your brightness and hydration levels so skin can score a gorgeous glow, regardless of your skin type.
The Ordinary 100% L-Ascorbic Acid Powder ($6):
We all have a specific skincare cocktail that works best for our skin’s needs, but this is another you might want to add to your arsenal. Celebrity facialist Cecilia Wong
recommends this powder as “an excellent alternative to retinol.” It can easily be incorporated into your some of your go-to products; just be sure to check the label.
Pixi Glow Tonic Exfoliating Toner ($15):
Pixi’s signature toner was a cult classic before it came stateside — and with good reason. With a combination of glycolic acid and aloe, you won’t risk any inflammation as you slough off dead skin cells to increase turnover and purify pores. Plus, its infusion of ginseng energizes and improves circulation for a clearer, more radiant complexion.
ilike Organic Skin Care Rosehip Serum ($99):
If you’ve got sensitive skin, rosacea, or inflammation, Wong suggests snapping up this serum that keeps skin tight while soothing. It also comes with peppermint oil to slow any surge of sebum while waking up worn-out skin. “It reduces redness, which is the exact opposite of what retinol does,” she says.
Nurse Jamie EGF Stem Cell Complex ($125):
This hydrating serum blends hyaluronic acid with EGF and plant stem cells to nourish below the surface and help plump up the volume of your skin.
Glytone Rejuvenating Cream 20 ($54):
For retinol alternatives, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner
is a big fan of this overnight cream from Glytone. “This alpha hydroxy acid helps exfoliate dead cells from the surface of the skin and has demonstrated anti-aging benefits by helping to stimulate collagen,” he says.
DHC EGF Cream ($89):
This peptide-powdered moisturizer is perfect for dry and more mature skin types. It blends a number of anti-aging vitamins with amino acids and EGF to erase fine lines and increase skin elasticity. The base of shea and cupuaçu butters nourish and lock in hydration, and a dollop of zinc oxide protects skin should you slather this on in the morning.
SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum ($320):
Zeichner sees this serum as a serious anti-aging investment thanks to its EGFs. Considering its formula, which also contains plenty of peptides and antioxidants to maintain bouncy and bright skin, it’s no wonder it’s snagged a slew of awards.
ARCONA Wrinkle Repair GF Complex ($85):
You’ll probably want to snap a selfie as soon as your eyes open after trying this overnight serum. While peptides and EGFs enhance regenerate and reduce the signs of aging, olive oil, cytokinol, and adaptonyl help protect your skin’s barrier and hydration levels while you snooze.
Roc Multi-Correxion 5-in-1 Daily Moisturizer ($28):
Don’t worry, budget beauty buffs, we didn’t leave you behind! To snag those anti-aging benefits without breaking the bank, Zeichner recommends this mega moisturizer thanks to the key ingredient, ascorbyl glucoside, a stabilized form of vitamin C.
DNA EGF Regeneration Serum ($45):
This serum boasts the first and only plant-derived EGF, made from barley extract, that’s used to accelerate the regeneration of skin cells so it can stand up against elements that age your skin while reversing any damage. It also helps to erase dark spots in a flash and purify pores for a smoother surface.
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