This retinol oil has completely transformed how bright and even my skin looks

January 10, 2020 at 09:00PM by CWC

When my hormonal acne wouldn’t budge, I had to end my love affair with facial oils as I figured out a game plan for clear skin. This saddened me, because although facial oils are luxe, nourishing ways to hydrate and feed your skin, lots of dermatologists advise against acneic skin types using oil-based beauty products.


Now that my breakouts have been under control for a little over a year (praise be), I’m in a committed relationship with one particular facial oil: the Mara Beauty Algae Retinol Oil ($120). I’ll admit I was scared to slather an oil onto my temperamental skin after such a long break, but felt hopeful about this one since it is packed with so many of the top skin-boosting ingredients out there (retinol and algae, for starters). Plus, when this Mara Beauty creation launched right before the new year in 2019, it quickly garnered one five-star review after another on every beauty retail website out there. And so, after one week of nightly use, I became attached—or devoted, really—to the retinol… because it was transforming my skin into the glowiest and brightest that it’s ever been, and I now refuse to live without it.

Photo: Mara Beauty

Shop now: Mara Beauty Algae Retinol Oil ($120)

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I was first intrigued by this oil because it’s riding the wave of the algae in skin care trend—an ocean-derived ingredient that retains moisture and is filled with skin-friendly nutrients and minerals, and has been popping into beauty products as of late because of that. But the product is also a retinol, the most important skin-booster out there for increased cell turnover, clear, happy pores, and eliminating fine lines, and one that I slather on every night no matter what. The oil is also spiked with fermented green tea for hella good ingredient absorption and polyphenols for fighting free radicals, evening primrose for smoothing things out, and hemp seed oil which gives your skin amino acids for an overall radiance. In other words: Mara Beauty has bestowed us with a facial oil that means business, y’all.

To be clear, retinol itself has long given me a better, more even complexion. But it’s always been the main attraction in the serums I’ve used over the years. With this algae retinol oil, my skin drinks up a full-on meal of ingredients that swirl together to strengthen and brighten my complexion as I sleep. It’s also so incredibly hydrating that I don’t even put a moisturizer on afterwards—my face just glistens with dew hours after I apply it, and I wake up with clearer, softer skin. Just the other week, I poured the very last drop of my Mara product onto my face, and I kind of panicked about how my complexion would fare before I got my second bottle (I’m okay now, guys). At $120, the oil is definitely an investment—but with all of the superstar active ingredients within it, I’m here to tell you that your skin will be thankful, and it’ll show.

If you’re not looking to shell out that much, I have good news for you: A derm says the best drugstore retinol costs a mere $10. And don’t forget to slather on a body serum so that you’re covered from head to toe. 

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Author Rachel Lapidos | Well and Good
Selected by CWC