4 Best Retinol Alternatives in 2023 + Product Recommendations

By PMUHub Editorial Team| Last updated on March 25, 2024
retinol alternatives
⏱️ 6 min read

Retinol alternatives are growing in popularity following the scare we just recently had, thinking that Europe is going to ban retinol altogether.

Thankfully, the ban is a complete myth, and most likely comes from misunderstanding the European Union’s statement, which only advocated for limiting the use of vitamin A, as it can be harmful in huge quantities – which are never present in common skincare products.

Still, this situation inspired brands and enthusiasts alike to look for a retinol substitute. And, if you’re looking for one too, you’re at the right place!

In this article, we’ll go over the 4 best retinol alternatives you can find on Amazon in 2023!

The 4 Best Retinol Alternatives – What to Use Instead of Retinol?

There are several alternatives to retinol that offer similar skincare benefits, so here are a few ingredients to consider:

1. Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol is a plant extract, coming from the Psoralea Corylifolia plant, which is more commonly known as babchi. For ages, it has been used in Ayurvedic practices and recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties.

However, more recently, a 2019 medical trial proved that it had a lot more to offer, especially in terms of reversing the signs of aging.

Bakuchiol gives the same results as retinol if your goal is to remove fine lines and wrinkles and get a more even skin texture. It’s available as an over-the-counter remedy and can be used twice a day, while stronger, medical-grade variants require a prescription and will work faster, so feel free to ask your dermatologist about it.

The Best Bakuchiol Products

The ingredients of the Andalou cream include fruit stem cells and antioxidants on top of Bakuchiol, which all work together to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Experts say that it’s a very light and gentle formula and that it can be used twice a day.

All the ingredients are also organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, sustainable, fair trade, cruelty-free, and nature-derived, which is a stunning list of achievements, especially given the affordable price point.

On the other hand, the ISDIN serum is more of a luxury option. It’s a 3-in-1 product, which combines Bakuchiol, vitamin C, and melatonin. This means that your skin is protected from free radicals while improving its elasticity and firmness.

For the best results, it’s advised you use this serum as a part of your nighttime routine.

2. Azelaic Acid

Similarly to Bakuchiol, azelaic acid has also been around for a while now and it is also all-natural – it is normally produced by a type of yeast that lives on our skin. It is used to treat acne, rosacea, alopecia, keratosis pilaris, and psoriasis vulgaris, to list a few.

Azelaic acid is known for being so gentle that it is even offered as a treatment to children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding people.

It is similar to retinol in that they both help cellular turnover, which results in a more even complexion. They differ, however, in the fact that azelaic acid is more of an exfoliant, while retinol does more to boost cell renewal.

They can be combined, but they can also be used interchangeably, which is a great option for anyone with sensitive skin.

The Best Azelaic Acid Products

The Glytone cream consists of 12% azelaic acid and 3% glycolic acid – both very powerful exfoliants. Mixed together in this formula, they’re a great way to combat dark spots while smoothing uneven skin tones. And, the formula is also non-comedogenic!

The Naturium serum is a great choice for anyone looking to combine very potent ingredients in one product. The formula contains niacinamide, oat, squalane, and allantoin on top of azelaic acid. They’re all aimed at reducing redness and swelling, so you can be sure your skin will be more even than ever before!

3. Copper Peptides

Copper peptides can either be used alongside retinol to boost each other’s effectiveness, or they can be used as a replacement for retinol in general.

Their main benefit is that they help your skin by promoting the production of collagen and elastin, which, as you already know, are responsible for giving your skin a younger and firmer look, free of fine lines and wrinkles.

Other than that, copper peptides are used in medicine to accelerate the healing of wounds. This means that peptides can be used to reduce inflammation and calm your skin down during and/or after a flare-up.

If you want to learn more about the different conditions copper peptides can treat, click here!

The Best Peptide Products

If you’re ready to invest in this retinol alternative, here are our top picks for the best copper peptide products:

The Complete Skin Solutions serum is somewhat of a fan-favorite as all the reviews testify to its effectiveness. It’s especially good for making your skin look younger and feel firmer, so if that’s your goal – this is the best retinol alternative for you!

The Skin Perfection Copper serum is a mix-in product, meaning that you shouldn’t apply it directly to your skin, but mix it in with another product. In this case, you’ll need 9 drops to 1 ounce of moisturizer to get a strong enough concoction.

The best thing about it is that you can mix it in with anything you like and create the perfect 2-in-1 solution for you!

4. Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid

Vitamin C and Hyaluronic acid are often combined – sometimes as separate steps in people’s routines and sometimes as ingredients in the same product.

Hyaluronic acid is best known for its strong moisturizing powers which make the skin more flexible and youthful. Vitamin C helps boost collagen production in the skin, making it less saggy as we age, and aids in lightening darker spots and evening out your complexion.

As you can see, these two ingredients, when combined, can be used as an alternative to retinol. But, if you’re not particularly eager to invest in 2 different products, you can find them already combined in these 2 handy solutions:

The Best Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Products

If you’re looking to combat the signs of aging, the L’Oreal solution will be perfect for you! It’s super lightweight – so much so that it can even be used as a primer for your makeup and it won’t leave any residue behind.

Even if you have sensitive skin, you don’t have to worry because it’s dermatologist and allergy-tested, as well as paraben, fragrance, and mineral oil-free!

The Amara Beauty serum will also be effective at reducing the signs of aging while leaving no residue on the skin. This product is also suitable for all skin types and is also free of any fragrance and artificial colors. Plus, it’s also vegan and cruelty-free!

Want a More Intense Skin Improvement?

If you’re seeking a more dramatic enhancement of your complexion, consider professional treatments – like chemical peel!

These highly effective treatments can address a wide range of concerns, and they work great for minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as other aging signs such as age spots or dull complexion.

The depth and strength of the peel can be customized to your specific needs and goals, ensuring that you achieve the intense skin improvement you desire.

But if you’re not so keen on this one, you can explore other treatments that also offer a level of skincare expertise and effectiveness that surpasses what can be achieved with regular at-home routines.

Cover image source: Freepik 

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