I Finally Found a Retinol Cream That Doesn't Irritate My Sensitive Skin

The Splurge is our new weekly column dedicated to expensive beauty products that are actually worth it. This week, why we're rebuying Skinbetter's AlphaRet Cream, despite the $120 price tag. 

AlphaRet Skin Better
Photo: Courtesy

“We need to get you on a retinol,” my dermatologist said to me. Within three seconds, a look of unconvinced resistance was plastered all over my face, and as I felt my body tightening, I knew my anxiety was kicking in. Not because I was hugely offended that my dermatologist suggested adding an anti-aging ingredient to my routine, but because as someone who has incredibly sensitive, dry skin, retinol can be a straight-up terror.

The ingredient is often hailed as one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients out there for its ability to speed up cellular renewal — or in layman's terms, improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by convincing your skin cells to act younger for longer. Its other reputation? Potentially irritating and drying out particularly reactionary skin in the process.

Still, she's never steered me wrong, so I followed her advice and tried the bottle of Skinbetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream, a retinoid and AHA-infused solution, sitting on my desk. Touted as being one of the more gentle, less irritating retinols that still show results, I had hope.

The cream, which retails for a pricey $120 a pop, is designed to exfoliate the surface of your skin and also speed up cellular renewal. Sounds intense, but the reason it's known to be less irritating is that the ingredients are developed to break down gradually. This, theoretically, allows the skin to better deal with each ingredient and its common side-effects.

It's also made with hydrating and soothing ingredients like bisabolol and portulaca extract, as well as hyaluronic acid, to counteract any dryness and keep skin moisturized. There's also the antioxidants found in vitamin E and green tea to provide further protection against free radicals, or the scary environmental factors that speed up the aging process.

I started off my relationship with AlphaRet by applying it once every night before my moisturizer. On day three, I noticed I was a little red around my chin, so I scaled back to every other day for two weeks. Then, I started applying it once every night. It's a lightweight lotion that sinks into your skin quickly, and layers well under your normal moisturizer.

I've been using it for a little over a month, and while at 27 years old I don't really have any significant wrinkles to report on, I've noticed my skin feels much smoother. The tone, which was a little blotchy before, has evened out a noticeable amount, too.

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One of my resolutions is to continue to invest in my skincare routine, treating my face to quality ingredients that solve complexion problems like wrinkles. So one this bottle runs dry, a restock is a goal that will definitely be achieved.

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