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Squalane + Phyto Retinol Serum

1.00 fl. oz. for $ 78.00
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Brand Overview

Biossance’s Squalane + Phyto Retinol Serum has the potential to be a skin care standout, but some formulary missteps mean it’s not exactly top-shelf.

This fluid serum is packaged in an opaque bottle with a pump dispenser. This protects the good ingredients it contains from light and air, which cause them to break down. The texture is immediately smoothing and softening with an emollient, but not greasy, texture that’s best for those with normal to dry skin.

More on the ingredients: this serum includes its namesake skin-replenishing squalane, along with pore-refining niacinamide and antioxidant-rich rosehip oil. Also included is an interesting ingredient called bakuchiol. This plant-based ingredient is what Biossance calls “phyto retinol” (“phyto” means plant-based).

A small amount of research shows that bakuchiol has many of the same benefits as retinol, including the ability to diminish the appearance of wrinkles and reduce the effects of sun damage (including uneven skin tone). Bakuchiol is also said to offer retinol-like benefits without the irritant potential retinol has; however, retinol isn’t inherently irritating. Many people can use retinol without a negative reaction.

Bakuchiol is a promising ingredient and a great inclusion here, but it’s not an apples-to-apples equivalent to retinol.

That aside, the reason this doesn’t rate higher is that it contains ingredients that are problematic for skin. Among them are bitter orange oil, plus fragrance ingredients linalool, geraniol, and limonene. These ingredients pose a risk of irritation, and irritation is pro-aging. For this price, your skin deserves better, like one of the alternatives you’ll find on our list of Best Retinol Products.

  • Packaged to protect its beneficial ingredients from light and air.
  • Emollient texture immediately softens and smooths skin.
  • Contains skin-replenishing squalane and niacinamide, and antioxidant rose hip oil.
  • Contains bakuchiol, an ingredient with similar benefits to retinol.
  • Contains fragrant bitter orange oil + fragrance ingredients that can irritate skin.
Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: No

A lightweight, powerfully effective serum featuring Bakuchiol, a plant-derived alternative to retinol. Reduces the look of lines and wrinkles while visibly firming skin-without the irritation or sensitivity associated with retinol. This No Compromise™ formula was clinically evaluated and found to be non-irritating and effective for all skin types.

Water/Aqua, Squalane, Niacinamide, Sodium Acrylates Copolymer, Bakuchiol, Sodium Hyaluronate, Rosa Canina Fruit Oil, Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil, Biosaccharide Gum-1, Yeast Extract, Soy Amino Acids, Lecithin, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Citric Acid, Linalool, Geraniol, Limonene.

Biossance is the commercial beauty arm of biotechnology brand Amyris. Amyris manufactures plant sugars (like that from sugar cane) into specialty ingredients for use by other companies, but chose to center Biossance around one ingredient in particular: plant-based squalane.

Each Biossance product prominently features squalane; so much that it’s in the name of every offering. Squalane has its merits—it’s an excellent skin-conditioning ingredient and has antioxidant properties—but skin needs much more than one focused ingredient to feel, look, and perform its best.

Thankfully, Biossance includes other ingredients in many of its squalane-centric products and these are also impressive, particularly bakuchiol (which has many retinol-like properties), antioxidants, and peptides. Unfortunately, the brand also uses a number of fragrance ingredients in many of its products, and whether naturally-derived or not, fragrance is known to irritate skin—even if you don’t see or feel the damage taking place. For this reason, most of the brand’s offerings wind up being middle-of-the-road, though there are a couple of standouts.

For more on Biossance, visit the brand’s website at

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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