A Hydrating, Vitamin C-Packed Retinol Alternative? It's Not Too Good to Be True — Meet Rambutan
Retinol is a near-miracle ingredient that has a wide array of benefits including anti-aging, evening out both skin tone and texture, battling acne, and increasing the rate of cell turnover, which means revealing layers of new, bright skin. But there are some notorious downsides like redness, irritation, dryness, and flaking — the combination of which are referred to as "retinol burn."
Rambutan is a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia that is similar to lychee and its extract is used for skincare products, most commonly serums. According to Dr. Frank, "it is similar to retinol and bakuchiol in the sense that it causes cell turnover and stimulates collagen," but it does more too. Dr. Frank explains that even though bakuchiol is relatively more gentle than retinol, "it can still cause some irritation and isn't ideal for super sensitive or dry skin."
Think of rambutan skincare products as being in the same efficacy class as retinol, not only with less harshness, but also with added benefits. Rambutan is going to be gentle and hydrating but Dr. Frank points out that it's also rich in antioxidants including vitamin C and manganese. The former is a household skincare ingredient loved for its anti-aging, skin brightening, and hyperpigmentation reduction abilities. Manganese is a lesser-known powerful antioxidant that helps with collagen formation and wound healing.
In essence, rambutan is a skin-improving ingredient made up of other potent skincare ingredients. For best use Dr. Frank says, "as always, patch test first and start slowly, using only a couple of times per week at night." It is a relatively new ingredient so the skincare industry has not taken full advantage of rambutan. Dr. Frank says that he believes this will change in the next year as beauty brands capitalize on this gentle retinol alternative. Below are ahead-of-the-curve rambutan products for a hydrated, vitamin C-packed glow.