The 10 Best Retinol Alternatives

The 10 Best Retinol Alternatives

The 10 Best Retinol Alternatives

Retinol is a product commonly found in skincare routines, and there are many benefits to using it regularly. It’s a type of Vitamin A that can be found in a wide range of skincare products, though retinol serums tend to be the most common. The benefit of retinol is that it both helps to prevent damage and correct it. It’s a win-win.

The right type of retinol alternative for you will largely depend on what you’re using retinol for, and the types and products you typically combine it with in your skincare routine. Retinol is helpful for reducing the appearance of acne and related scarring, for evening out your skin tone, and for minimizing the appearance of aging, like fine lines and wrinkles.

While there are many reasons to consider adding retinol to your daily routine, there’s no denying that it can be a bit harsh. Individuals looking to protect their sensitive skin, or simply to use products with more gentle ingredients, may be on the search for alternatives to retinol. 

Avenue B is here to help. We carry products designed to meet your needs, whether you have sensitive, oily, dry, normal, or combination skin, and we’re here to help you find the right alternatives for the skincare products you need every time. 

Here are just a few of the retinol alternatives we recommend for individuals creating the right skincare routine for their needs today. 

1. Bakuchiol Oil

One of the most commonly found alternatives to retinol is bakuchiol oil, and for good reason. It works very similarly to retinol, but is a natural alternative that can have a less intense impact on the skin, especially if you’re prone to irritation or sensitivity. That’s because bakuchiol oil is derived from plants. 

Specifically, it’s made of the extract of psoralea corylifolia seeds, which are grown in India, and bakuchiol oil has been utilized for medical purposes throughout history.

Bakuchiol oil is considered the most effective replacement for retinol because it serves many of the same functions and offers several of the same benefits, all with a lower impact on your skin. Like retinol, it helps to stimulate collagen production, which is useful for the production of new skin cells. It even adds to the elasticity of your skin. When all of those factors combine, it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and makes your skin look younger and more healthy.

Bakuchiol is also useful for evening out skin tone and texture and reducing discoloration and roughness, which are some of the primary benefits of retinol. It does all this without leaving behind any irritating side effects that may need to be addressed with future products or practices, like redness or flaking. 

Like retinol, you can find bakuchiol oil in different forms, like serums and oils, and you can use it to address many different skincare needs with an effective yet gentle touch. 

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E boasts skin benefits like wrinkle prevention, healing, and blemish reduction — using topical vitamin E can help you actually feel like your skin is smoother and healthier. It still offers many of the benefits of typical retinol products, all without side effects. 

The Neutrogena Healthy Skin SPF 20 Foundation features vitamin E and offers daily sun protection that can help to prevent or reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines that develop as the result of excess sun exposure.

It's available in over a dozen different color varieties and can be used to help even out the tone and texture of the skin, the way that retinol products do, all without any dryness or other side effects. Neutrogena Healthy Skin SPF 20 Foundation is lightweight and non-greasy, which makes it a good option even for individuals with oily or combination skin. 

It’s paraben-free, as well, so if you’re making the switch to products that are less irritating for sensitive skin than traditional retinol, this may be a good option for your needs. 

3. Squalane

Imagine if there was a skincare superhero — it wouldn't wear a cape or wield a magical lasso, but it would do something even more impressive. It would provide your skin with an army of benefits. Let's introduce you to squalane.

Squalane is like that friend who always makes sure you're hydrated. It slinks deep into your skin, hugging every layer with moisture — but it’s lightweight and non-greasy at the same time. Plus, it throws antioxidants into the mix to help shield your skin against pesky free radicals from sources like pollution and sun exposure.

Even better, unlike retinol, squalane fits right in with the skin’s natural oils — which means you won’t have to worry about it causing discomfort or irritation.

The e.l.f. Poreless Putty Primer features squalane for the ultimate makeup grip, all-day wear, and long-lasting hydration.

4. Salicylic Acid

One of the top alternatives you can use for retinol is salicylic acid, as it offers many of the same benefits and effects, with a more gentle impact on your skin. Like retinol, salicylic acid is very useful for turning over skin cell production, which means it can help to heal scars and blemishes caused by acne outbreaks, as well as wrinkles and fine lines. 

Salicylic acid can smooth out the tone of the skin and dark spots for the same reason, which is one of the primary benefits of using a retinol product.

The e.l.f. Cosmetics Acne Fighting Putty Primer with Salicylic Acid might be the right salicylic acid product for your skincare needs. It’s very lightweight and designed for long-term wear, so you can use as much or as little as you need for your skin type, without worrying about breakouts or irritation. 

It also helps to provide a smooth and poreless appearance that gives you confidence throughout the day, and allows you to use fewer products with fewer side effects. It’s available in putty and liquid form and is a good option for all different skin types, including oily, combination, dry, and normal.

If you’re looking for a product that’s very gentle on sensitive skin, the e.l.f. Cosmetics Acne Fighting Putty Primer With Salicylic Acid might be right for you. All products produced by the brand are vegan and cruelty-free, and this product is free of irritating ingredients like phthalates, parabens, and hydroquinone that can bother individuals with sensitive skin, making it a good alternative to retinol and other products.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a pro at giving your skin a pick-me-up, resulting in a vibrant glow that even makes the sun a little jealous. It's known to help support collagen production, reducing the appearance of those pesky fine lines and wrinkles that threaten to broadcast your age to the world.

Vitamin C also serves as an antioxidant, working to support your skin cell health during exposure to free radicals and environmental damage — which means it works overtime as a defense against dark spots and sun damage. Vitamin C is even known to have soothing properties, meaning it may help nourish and ease angry skin. 

The Neutrogena Radiant Tinted Face Moisturizer has some of the vitamin A found in retinol, along with vitamin E and vitamin C, which means plenty of health and healing with every application. The formula also comes with SPF protection to keep your skin safe from excess sun exposure, which means fewer lines and wrinkles. It actually You’ll find the Neutrogena Radiant Tinted Face Moisturizer in three different color options, so you can pick the right one for your skin tone.

6. Glycolic Acid

Similar to retinol, glycolic acid gets to work sloughing away dead skin cells and making space for new, healthy skin cells to come through. This can result in a reduced appearance of pores, making your skin look (and feel) amazingly smooth.

It does this by supporting your skin’s natural cell turnover process — AKA, the process of out with the old and in with the new. Because it supports your skin’s ability to function properly, it’s even known to help ease breakouts and blemishes by keeping your pores clean and clear. 

Even more, glycolic acid may help support your skin’s collagen levels, which means they can help you achieve that glowing, youthful-looking complexion you desire. 

7. Rosehip Oil

Ready to meet yet another skincare superstar? Here comes rosehip oil. This isn't just your average face oil — it's like your skin's own secret love letter to Mother Nature.

Rosehip oil works to quench thirsty skin, providing deep hydration for all-day nourishment. However, rosehip oil is also a hero when it comes to minimizing the look of dark spots and pigmentation issues, and it might just be your new go-to for the even-toned, smooth-looking complexion of your dreams.

Rosehip oil is super rich in antioxidants, keeping your skin cells healthy and functioning to keep your skin healthy and functioning. Plus, rosehip oil absorbs relatively quickly, meaning you won’t need to worry about that greasy residue feeling we all know (and hate).

8. Plant Extracts

Plant extracts are like the secret garden of skincare — and they, too, can make for a great alternative to retinol. Plant extracts work a bit of botanical magic on your skin, bringing you the best nature has to offer. 

Green tea extract, for example, is full of antioxidants and polyphenols that get to work maintaining your skin cell health and supporting bright, radiant skin. Aloe vera extract and chamomile extract are soothing superstars that help ease redness, calm irritation, and support a comfortable, happy complexion. 

And then we have licorice root extract, which is known for its amazing ability to help fade the look of dark spots and pigmentation issues on the skin. There’s a wide, wide range of plant extracts to choose from, and each one offers unique benefits. Plus, if you opt for products containing more than one plant extract, you can benefit from these extracts working synergistically and amping up the overall positive effects on your skin. 

You can find chamomile, lavender, and aloe extracts (and more) in the Spenser & Jensen Lavender Chamomile Body Wash for hydrated, nourished skin. 

9. Peptides

Peptides are tiny but mighty — imagine them as the tiny messengers in your skin's kingdom. They send out signals to produce more collagen, the protein that keeps your skin plump, firm, and bouncing back like a brand-new trampoline. Peptides are like the life coaches of your skin cells, always pushing them to be their best, bounciest selves.

When it comes to fine lines and wrinkles, peptides have you covered. They work to support your overall skin structure and integrity, which can help fade the look of frustrating fine lines for a smoother complexion. 

Peptides are also known as masters of hydration, working to refresh and rejuvenate your skin while keeping your skin barrier healthy. Plus, peptides have calming, soothing properties that can help ease skincare woes like redness and irritation — which makes it an excellent choice if you have particularly sensitive skin that doesn’t play well with retinol.

10. Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your body and useful for both hydrating the surface of the skin and for making your skin more elastic and flexible — that means fewer lines and wrinkles develop on the surface of the skin, which is one of the primary uses of retinol. Hyaluronic acid is also useful for healing wounds or damage to the surface of the skin, and can even ensure that the blemishes that do develop leave lighter, less noticeable scars when they heal.

There are many different benefits to adding hyaluronic acid to your skincare routine, especially in the place in retinol… and the e.l.f. Cosmetics Luminous Putty Primer might be the product to fit your needs. It also features collagen, which helps with cell turnover and skin healing, and helps you to achieve the bright and glowing complexion that will make you feel confident all day long.

You’ll be able to pick from several different putty primers, including luminous for brightness, poreless for coverage, and matte for reducing the appearance of oil and sebum secretion. Matte is a good option for managing the effects of acne development and appearance, if that’s what you most often use your retinol products for.

The Luminous Putty Primer from e.l.f. cosmetics is vegan and free from irritating ingredients and compounds, like sulfates and parabens, which makes it a more gentle alternative to other skincare products. It’s also cruelty-free, which means you’ll have peace of mind with every use. 

Find the Right Retinol Alternative With Support From Avenue B

Skincare routines can be very personal, and it’s useful to do your research and find the right products that meet your lifestyle and skincare needs. One product often found in skincare routine is retinol, which serves many purposes, including easing breakouts, evening the tone of the skin, and helping you to get the smooth, soft texture you deserve.

But if retinol isn’t right for your skin due to sensitivities or irritations, you have options. You can replace your current retinol product with alternatives, like moisturizers and putties, in order to keep your skin safe without side effects and irritation. You always want to consider what you’re using your retinol product for in order to find the right replacement or routine to make up the difference — and Avenue B is here to help.

We carry a wide collection of high-quality and gentle products and tools you can use to protect your skin from breakouts, irritation, sun exposure, and signs of aging. Take our beauty quiz to get started, and begin picking out the right retinol alternative for your skincare routine today.


Bakuchiol: Does it make skin look younger? | Harvard Health

Sun protection | American Academy of Dermatology Association

Vitamin E | Mayo Clinic

Hyaluronic Acid: What It Is, Benefits, How To Use & Side Effects | Cleveland Clinic. 


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