This ‘Deep Wrinkle’ Serum Has Derm-Beloved Ingredients That Are More Gentle Than Retinol, but Just as Powerful

Photo: Getty Images/Nicky Lloyd
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In a sea of skin-care products and confusing beauty buzzwords, few are as intimidating as the word "retinol." The vitamin A derivative has been dubbed an "absolute must" for people in their 30s by derms for its plumping, smoothing, and wrinkle-zapping powers. But even the greenest beauty buffs know that such great power is a force to be reckoned with, and the wrong retinol (aka, one that's too strong or used incorrectly) can quickly lead to sun sensitivity, dryness, and a bunch of other skin concerns.

If you're intimidated by retinols, you're in luck: There are a lot of retinol alternatives (also called "retin-alts") on the market (these generally contain ingredients that are just as effective as retinol but can be far less irritating), one of our favorites being Tula Firm Up Deep Wrinkle Serum ($78). Its potent, plant-based formulation makes it gentler than traditional retinols, while the additional burst of peptides and pre- and probiotics nourish the skin and help fend off any signs of irritation.

Tula, Firm Up Deep Wrinkle Serum — $78.00

Peptides, probiotics, and plant-based retinol come together to put your best face forward.

Those on the skin-care scene know that, while they're not new, retinol alternatives are on the up and up. Ingredients like bakuchiol, which is derived from the babchi plant, and carrot seed oil, which is naturally packed with vitamin E and A, are often preferred for their gentler effects on the skin.

Tula's Firm Up Deep Wrinkle Serum is fueled by a retin-alt—bakuchiol can keep the lines and uneven spots away, as can the included peptides from peony root and alfalfa sprouts. But what makes it a game-changer over other smoothing and firming products is the load of probiotics and prebiotics in every batch. Yep—the same "good" micro-organisms you know and love for gut health can be just as nourishing for your skin's flora. As Roshini Raj, MD, board certified gastroenterologist and internist, previously explained, what goes into your belly has similar health benefits when they're slathered onto your face.

“When you wash your face, especially with harsh cleansers and soaps, you are removing both the good and bad bacteria from your skin,” she said. “Any disruptions to the balance of bacteria—too much bad—leaves skin susceptible to skin irritations such as dryness, inflammation, and infection."

That's where Tula Firm Up Serum Deep Wrinkle Serum can help. Like all of Tula's products, it's infused with a batch of its signature natural bacteria strains, which honestly sounds kinda gross, but is what helps keep your skin ~balanced.~ Similar to the way your gut re-balances itself with a boost of probiotics, your skin does the same thing, boosting the good bacteria for a stronger, happier skin barrier.

These microorganisms also help temper redness and inflammation, soothing your skin when it feels out of whack. But combined, the four P's—plant-based retinol, peptides, prebiotics, and probiotics—are what make this face-firming serum so dang good. And if you need more proof, look to the glowing comments. "I love this product!!! A little goes a long way so it is definitely worth the price. It plumps up my deep wrinkles and makes my skin feel soft and look smooth. I use it on my forehead around my eyes and at my laugh lines...It seriously takes 5 years off my age!"

Another shopper says someone asked them if they'd gotten Botox (nope, just Tula): "It’s great. The directions say to use two pumps but I find that one is plenty. I had a compliment the first day I used it. Some one asked if I did Botox. My skin feels smooth and soft. Looks great."

Whether you're a brave soul who knows the world of retinol inside and out, or are still a liiittle intimidated (it's okay, I definitely am!), this super serum is worth your time.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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