Augustinus Bader is practically a status symbol for people who are committed to their luxe skincare routines, and the brand’s The Rich Cream ($290) continues to make its way to the top shelves of the beauty industry’s elite. Fancy blue and bronze packaging and devoted following aside, Augsutinus Bader makes some of the best and most efficacious skincare products in the game. And today, April 4, Augustinus Bader releases its first retinol serum, simply named The Retinol Serum ($350), which aims to resurface the skin with no redness or irritation.
Ahead, everything you need to know about the formula, as well as our honest review.
While retinol is amazing for boosting collagen and elastin production, blurring fine lines and wrinkles, and diminishing breakouts, the ingredient is notorious for causing redness and flaking in sensitive and dry skin types. With its first-ever retinol serum, Augustinus Bader was inspired by the gap in the market for a retinol that actually nourishes the skin instead of causing irritation. “This launch, as with all launches from Augustinus Bader, came to fruition as it was something that our customers had been asking for,” the brand tells Byrdie.
The brand continues, “Taking that demand into consideration, we looked at the ‘gold standard’ for retinols to determine if this was something our technology could improve upon. For The Retinol Serum, we wanted to create a formula that offered the efficacy of traditional retinols that could also be used by wider consumers, those with more sensitive skin, or who have been nervous to try a retinol due to fears of irritation, redness, and discomfort.”
The brand sought to create a serum that would deliver all the benefits of retinol, while soothing, hydrating, and restoring the skin. In this formula, you’ll find pure retinol, which can minimize fine-to-deep lines and wrinkles, reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, minimize breakouts and even create a lustrous glow with extended use. The Retinol Serum also contains Augustinus Bader’s proprietary TFC8 technology, which the brand says “creates the optimal environment for skin cellular renewal.”
If you’re wondering exactly what TCF8 is, “TFC8, Trigger Factor Complex TFC, is a proprietary technology comprised of many different ingredients—including natural amino acids, high-grade vitamins, and synthesized molecules—which constitute important building components for healthy skin,” Professor Augustinus Bader tells Byrdie. “The technology is based on my understanding of the body’s intrinsic repair code, which originated from my medical research. It’s essentially a toolbox that provides the skin with everything it needs.”
Professor Bader goes on to explain that TFC8 guides nutrients to the cells to up the ante on any formula’s efficacy (the complex is also inside the brand’s user-love The Rich Cream). “[TFC8] turns formulations of already powerful ingredients into intelligent skincare that adapts to individual concerns—everything from fine lines and wrinkles to hyperpigmentation and damage caused by external stressors.”
Along with TFC8, this formula also contains a microbiome blend to support the skin’s outermost bacterial barrier and minimize blemishes, a zinc complex that regulates sebum production (which also helps with breakouts), marine ectoine to hydrate the skin, and Japanese knotweed extract to regulate skin enzyme activity, which can lead to less dullness-causing dead skin cells on the surface.
Knowing what’s inside a formula is important—but understanding the ingredients that are left out is just as critical when choosing new products to slot into your night regime. The Retinol Serum is vegan and formulated without gluten, GMOs, parabens, synthetic fragrances, sulfates, silicones, phthalates, DEA, heavy metals, talc, petrolatum, paraffin, and mineral oil. And for the sustainable girlies, The Retinol Serum’s packaging comes in a 100% recyclable aluminum case with a recyclable carton, liner, and leaflet.
I’ll be honest: ever since going off Spironolactone at the start of the year, I’ve been having a serious affair with my prescription-strength Tretinoin to keep my adult acne at bay. While Tretinoin hits all my needs for diminishing my breakouts and fine lines (I’m past my cellular renewal prime!), it also wreaks havoc on my dry, sensitive skin.
If I stop using Tretinoin for just a few days, I begin to see my acne and slight wrinkling spring back to life: so, for the sake of testing, I stopped using Tretinoin for about a week before trying The Retinol Serum.
Whenever I start up any retinoid, my skin initially becomes dry and red, sometimes to the point of pain in the first few days. I’ve always accepted this as baggage that comes along with retinoids—yet, after incorporating The Retinol Serum into my nighttime routine, I noticed that my skin simply calmed down. I experienced virtually no irritation from this product, and I woke up each and every day with clearer and smoother skin. Furthermore, I’m a big fan of anything that will hydrate my skin without feeling like goop—to my delight, this formula’s lightweight texture soaks into the skin and glides on as smooth as butter.
Most retinoids take a full eight weeks to provide full results, so I can’t speak on the long-term benefits of this serum just yet. But if what’s happening now is any indication of what’s to come, I can seriously imagine Augustinus Bader’s The Retinol Serum replacing my prescription-strength retinoid.