I’d argue that no ingredient exfoliates and smoothes the skin better than retinol. Beyond that, the vitamin A derivative also delivers a host of other benefits, by virtue of the fact that it boosts cell turnover which helps expedite the removal of dead skin cells, which then leads to fewer breakouts and a brighter complexion. Having one in your routine seems like a no-brainer, right? Au contraire: there are many retinol options out there including vegan retinol products for those who have skin that doesn’t exactly thrive through the tingles.
The tingles I’m talking about are what come with traditional retinol products; a slight or not-so-slight sting that lets you know retinol has made contact with your skin and begun its exfoliating process. For some, it’s NBD and hardly inspires a flinch. But for those with sensitive skin, it hurts like hell and ends up doing more harm than good.
Thankfully, there are plenty of serums and moisturizers made with retinol alternatives like bakuchiol or products made with all-natural ingredients that help ease the delivery of traditional retinol into the skin. If you want the smoothing benefits of retinol sans irritation, here are some of the best vegan retinol options to choose from.
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Aya Natural Pure Nurture Serum
The brand that believes that “if an ingredient cannot be eaten, it should never be used to treat the skin” is responsible for this 100% natural dark spot corrector made with olive oil-derived retinol.
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
For firmer, brighter and balanced skin, use this lightweight serum made bakuchiol, a retinol alternative that delivers the same level of smoothing and brightening benefits.
GoPure Actives Firm + Lift Serum
Both retinol and the retinol alternative bakuchiol are included in this botanical-rich (geranium, aloe vera, white tea and more) serum for smoother-looking skin and diminishing the appearance of wrinkles.
Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Smoothing Serum
This jelly-like serum may be vegan but it’s infused with a heavy hitter list of ingredients for exfoliation and hydration: bakuchiol, poly-hydroxy acids, and blueberry stem cells, to name a few.
Josie Maran Argan Beta-Retinoid Pink Algae Serum
A truly innovative product, this skin serum includes pink algae which so happens to be rich in beta carotene that converts to retinol upon contact with the skin.
REN Bio Retinoid Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate Oil
In addition to 100 percent naturally-derived vitamin A, this soothing night oil is also infused with vegetable and plant extract oils to ease irritation often associated with retinol.
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil
Instead of retinol, this luxe overnight oil is made with esters of retinol to increase elasticity and decrease fine lines without irritating the skin.
The Inkey List Bakuchiol Moisturizer
This plant-derived and antioxidant-rich daily moisturizer delivers the exfoliating properties of bakuchiol and the moisturizing benefits of squalane and Sacha Inchi oil.