12 Alternatives to Retinoids That Are Safe and Effective

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12 Alternatives to Retinoids That Are Safe and Effective
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Our love affair with retinol (a.k.a. a vitamin A-derivative) has been going on for quite some time now. With super-effective over-the-counter and prescription-strength formulas, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of such a powerful anti-aging, acne-fighting superhero?

But regardless of how dewy and zit-free retinoids leave your skin, they have one major pitfall: They’re banned from the skin-care routines of all pregnant and breastfeeding women as a precaution, as excess amounts of vitamin A have been linked to birth defects (and even using a topical cream can risk absorption of vitamin A into your bloodstream).

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That’s a pretty important group of women who can’t use these products, especially considering the stress and body changes that come with childbirth and caring for a baby (read: out-of-whack skin that probably needs soothing the most). There must be safe, effective alternatives out there, right?

We consulted Yale dermatologist Mona Gohara, who says that while retinoids are hands-down the most effective anti-ager on the market, vitamin C comes in a close second. “Free radicals are cosmetic particles that bind to your skin and cause cancer, sagging, and wrinkles, and antioxidants like vitamin C pick them up, almost like a game of Pac Man,” she says.

dewy pretty skin1 12 Alternatives to Retinoids That Are Safe and Effective

Photo: ImaxTree

“Most vitamin C products are cosmetically elegant, easy to layer, and highly concentrated,” says Gohara. Along with vitamin C, Gohara also cites hyaluronic acid, a commonly used ingredient in fillers, as a top-notch anti-ager. “Hyaluronic acid absorbs water, which in turn plumps the skin like a filler would,” she says.

Smoothing and plumping is one thing, but fighting acne without retinoids can be a bit trickier: Gohara says that even some of the most common zit-fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide are unsafe for pregnant women. “I recommend using a mild exfoliating wash that unclogs pores and helps to regulate and even out the skin.”

For all the moms and moms-to-be out there, we found the best retinoid alternative products that actually work—including a skin-brightening vitamin-C serum from SkinCeuticals and a gentle exfoliator from Aveeno. Shop all 12, below.

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10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum, $165; at SkinCeuticals

Photo: SkinCeuticals
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Daily Scrub
Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Daily Scrub

Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Daily Scrub, $8.29; at Walgreens

Photo: Aveeno
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer
Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer

Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer, $22.50; at Derma E

Photo: Derma E
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream
Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream

Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream, $18; at Nordstrom

Photo: Mario Badescu
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum

Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, $80; at Drunk Elephant

Photo: Drunk Elephant
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Innisfree Skin Clinic Mask with Hyaluronic Acid
Innisfree Skin Clinic Mask with Hyaluronic Acid

Innisfree Skin Clinic Mask with Hyaluronic Acid, $2.20; at Innisfree

Photo: Innisfree
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub
Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub

Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub, $4.99; at Target

Photo: Simple
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-nice skin curly hair
Photo: ImaxTree
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster
Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster

Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster, $46; at Paula’s Choice

Photo: Paula’s Choice
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother
The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother

The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother, $17.40; at The Body Shop

Photo: The Body Shop
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator, $178; at SkinMedica

Photo: SkinMedica
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream
Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream

Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream, $48; at Sephora

Photo: Youth To The People
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Belif Mild and Effective Facial Scrub
Belif Mild and Effective Facial Scrub

Belif Mild and Effective Facial Scrub, $26; at Sephora

Photo: Belif
10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-nice skin straight brown hair
Photo: ImaxTree

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  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Serum
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Aveeno Positively Radiant Brightening Daily Scrub
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Derma E Vitamin C Renewing Moisturizer
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Mario Badescu Hyaluronic Eye Cream
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Innisfree Skin Clinic Mask with Hyaluronic Acid
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-nice skin curly hair
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-The Body Shop Vitamin C Skin Boost Instant Smoother
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Cream
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-Belif Mild and Effective Facial Scrub
  • 10 safe and effective alternatives to retinoids-nice skin straight brown hair

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