Is rambutan the new retinol?

The retinol alternative sensitive skin has been waiting for

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / December 07 2022

Retinol is one of those amazing skin care ingredients that really works. 

Its efficacy as an anti-ageing powerhouse is backed by decades of thorough study and loyal fans who’ve built up a tolerance to the powerful skin resurfacer. 

But retinol isn’t for everyone.

It is a notoriously difficult ingredient to integrate into a skin care routine. 

On the road to building a tolerance to the stuff, it’s customary to experience redness, itchiness and flaking. However, the aftermath is said to be the best skin of your life. 

As such, there’s been a shift towards gentler options for sensitive skin types, which mimic the positive effects of retinol serums and the like, minus the irritation. Retinol alternative bakuchiol has solidified its spot in the skin care cultural zeitgeist as a legitimate contender, but there’s a new ingredient making its way into the narrative — rambutan.

We recently spoke to Indie Lee (founder of Indie Lee Skincare) about its benefits and why the brand has started utilising an extract of the Malaysian fruit in their new retinol alternative line.

Is rambutan better than bakuchiol and retinol?

According to Lee, rambutan poses an exciting threat to bakuchiol as the best natural alternative to retinol. In comparison, it’s even more gentle on the skin and boasts moisturising properties too. 

“It also complements other ingredients really well,” she explains, making it easier to integrate into your routine than a traditional retinol. 

Traditional retinol formulations tend to be more concentrated and powerful, which can be great if you have resilient skin. But more sensitive skin types can experience irritation. 

The advantage of plant-based retinol alternatives like rambutan is that they’re more gentle in their delivery of “retinol-like benefits over time,” says Lee. And therefore there’s less of “the drawbacks like irritation and sun sensitivity.” 

“It improves the appearance of skin elasticity, supports healthy collagen levels and production, and improves firmness and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” she went on to say.

The best rambutan skin care products in Australia

Disclaimer: There aren’t a lot of skin care products utilising this ingredient yet, but considering the trajectory of fellow retinol-alternative bakuchiol, we expect to see a lot more of rambutan in the not too distant future. 

However, there are still a handful of exciting rambutan-enriched skin care products we’d love to share with you…

1/ Indie Lee Retinol Alternative Cream

This daily face cream combines rambutan with paracress extract, which helps to combat the signs of ageing. Moisturising and plumping squalane is included too, alongside soothing and radiance-enhancing orange milk tree extract.

Try: Indie Lee Retinol Alternative Cream ($112 at Sephora)

Indie Lee Retinol Alternative Cream

2/ HOLIFROG OWEL Multi-Peptide Eye Cream

This eye cream casts rambutan alongside a slew of buttery plant-based emollients and lightweight botanical seed oils to moisturise and nourish the under-eyes.

Try: HOLIFROG OWEL Multi-Peptide Eye Cream ($83 at Sephora)

HOLIFROG Owel Multi-Peptide Eye Cream

3/ Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment

Dr. Dennis Gross covered all its bases with this formula, which includes retinol, bakuchiol and rambutan. Ferulic acid and niacinamide is in the mix too, aiding in enhancing the wrinkle-plumping, tone-unifying and texture-smoothing results synonymous with retinol — minus the side effects. 

Try: Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment ($128 at MECCA)

Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Overnight Wrinkle Treatment

Interested in natural beauty alternatives? You’re not the only one. Here are 8 celebrity-approved natural beauty products.

Main image credit: Getty

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).