As someone with sensitive skin that can’t seem to tolerate any amount of retinol, I’d resigned to live without the beloved product in my regimen until I absolutely needed it, aka when I turn 30. Many brands tout having formulas that are delicate enough for sensitive skin, but I’ve yet to personally find a winner. However, I’ve found a retinol alternative that promises to provide all the same benefits without the irritation—Avène RetrinAL 3-in-1 Advanced Correcting Serum ($78).
This serum seemingly does it all, hence the 3-in-1 title. It has been clinically shown to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles and uneven skin tone while brightening the complexion and restoring radiance. Avène has been in the RetrinAL game for a while with various creams and an under-eye helper, but the new serum brings the line to a whole new level. The brand infuses its RetrinAL products with that French pharmacy ethos and Avène thermal water, making them excellent for sensitive skin types.
The star ingredient in the formula is bakuchiol, a popular natural alternative to retinol that’s been proven to be just as powerful without resulting in adverse side effects. The serum also features hyaluronic acid to hydrate and plump the skin, niacinamide to boost the skin barrier and brighten the complexion, pre-tocopheryl for antioxidants that protect against free radicals and Avène’s thermal water to soothe and soften the skin.
While other retinols and retinol alternatives are often sticky, heavy and irritating, this serum is hydrating, lightweight and a dream to apply. Although I’ve started off only using it once a day, New York dermatologist Elyse Love, MD says it’s so delicate that it’s safe to use day and night. So far, my dry, sensitive, rosacea-laden skin seems to like this product, and I’ve seen no negative side effects. My fellow sensitive-skin friends can try this serum without any worry.