As much as we love over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinoids—the powerhouse ingredient is often hailed by dermatologists as a holy grail anti-ager—we know that these products aren’t easy to add to your routine.
They don’t always play well with others, for one; you shouldn’t use retinoids when also using exfoliants, drying agents, or benzoyl peroxide, since the combination can cause irritation. Retinols and retinoids are also not safe to use during pregnancy. And they can trigger some frustrating side effects (like red, peeling skin) when you first start using them, particularly if you have sensitive skin or conditions like eczema and rosacea.
If you’ve been hesitant to jump on the retinol bandwagon for any of these reasons, take note. One of our favorite skincare brands just launched an alternative to retinol that’s perfect for anyone with sensitive skin or any other disqualifier who still wants to fight signs of aging.
Ole Henriksen’s Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum ($ 58; sephora.com) just launched a few days ago, but it’s already amassed an impressive five-star rating on Sephora.com. And for good reason: The serum is packed with potent anti-agers, including AHAs to exfoliate, red algae to firm, edelweiss stem cell to soften fine lines, and the brand’s new star ingredient, bakuchiol—a natural retinol alternative derived from the babchi plant. Bakuchiol helps tackle a host of complexion concerns, including uneven skin tone and wrinkles, but without some of retinol’s more irritating side effects.
Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum can be applied day or night. For an extra dose of moisture at nighttime, though, you can follow with the brand’s Transform Plus Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Crème ($ 55; sephora.com). This is a heavier night cream packed with nourishing ingredients (bakuchiol, along with red algae, glycolic and lactic acids, and extract of hibiscus flower, lemon, sugarcane, and chamomile) to help you wake up to softer, brighter-looking skin.
“Bakuchiol has recently been known as an ingredient that has similar effects as retinol,” says New York City–based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. “Studies have shown that [it] helps prevent fine lines and wrinkles, helps with pigmentation, elasticity, and firmness.”
As for the gorgeous lavender hue of both products? The color actually helps counteract redness and impart an instantly noticeable glow. Also good: Unlike retinol, both formulas are safe to use during pregnancy, and like all Ole Henriksen products, they smell completely amazing.