Moth Bean : The Gentle Natural Alternative to Retinol for Glowing Skin

Retinol is a beloved ingredient in the skincare world, but it isn’t always for everyone. Though dermatologists and bloggers alike rave about this ingredient and its potential anti-aging benefits, it can cause irritation for some with sensitive skin or those in situations where they can not use this ingredient.

Thanks to extensive research over time, scientists have since discovered plant-based alternatives. The latest alternative on the rise is moth bean extract, an ingredient cherished here at Sahara Rose. Moth bean extract serves as a natural alternative to retinol, which is why we include it in our own products.

To know if this ingredient is the one for you, let’s address the basics.

What is retinol?

Often included in anti-aging skincare products, retinol is a type of retinoid, a group of chemical compounds that are vitamers of vitamin A or are chemically related to it. Retinoids regulate epithelial cell growth, providing those buzz-worthy skin results. This process is done by increasing the production of collagen, the main structural protein in the extracellular matrix found in the body's various connective tissues. Because of this process, it is believed a topical application may provide similar effects.

When you hear the word “retinol,” it is typically an all-encompassing term for topical products that include a vitamin A derivative. 

Retinol products often claim effects such as smoother, clearer, more radiant skin. For some, though, the chemical makeup of retinol can be too harsh for sensitive skin. It can cause severe redness, burning, or flaking. In comes the natural alternatives. 

What is moth bean?

Rest assured, despite its name, moth bean actually has botanical roots. This retinol alternative’s scientific name is vigna aconitifolia, derived from an Asian legume. Commonly eaten in countries like India, moth bean comes from protein-rich seed pods. 

Though it is not a vitamin A derivative like retinol, moth bean extract is more stable and its makeup can still deliver similar effects when applied topically. Moth bean extract can promote skin-cell turnover, meaning your skin sheds its dead skin and replaces it with younger cells. This process reduces and prevents fine lines and wrinkles, preserving your skin’s youthful radiance.

Moth bean is an antioxidant-rich ingredient, using antioxidants such as caffeic acid, ferulic acid, cinnamic acid and kaempferol to repair the skin and protect it from environmental pollutants. By protecting your skin from potential environmental damage, which has the potential to prevent premature aging.

Also like retinol, moth bean extract has brightening properties. The extract has anti-melanin properties, lightening the skin over time. This is often used to lighten sun spots (also called dark spots or age spots) and freckles. 

How do they differ?

As mentioned, both ingredients deliver very similar results. After regular use, anticipated results can include smooth, bright, clear, and firm skin. Of course, they do have their key differences. Vitamin A derivatives can be incredibly potent, making it irritating to some with sensitive skin. This makes moth bean extract a natural, similar alternative with gentle results. 

How do I incorporate moth bean into my skincare routine?

If you’re in your twenties or older, then you’re likely in the market for an anti-aging skincare routine. Incorporating an ingredient like moth bean extract is a great place to start, and it’s easier than you might think. Because moth bean extract is not susceptible to the sun like retinol, you can use it in the morning or evening, whichever works best for your skin.

Sahara Rose’s I Am a Treasure Hydra C Serum ($54) is a brightening and plumping serum featuring moth bean extract. This serum uses powerful, but natural, ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, tripeptides, and moth bean to revitalize your skin. Gently toning and refreshing your skin, this is a great choice for your routine.

Simply apply a few drops of this serum after cleansing and before moisturizing. For best results, use this serum three to four times weekly. As with all Sahara Rose products, the Hydra C Serum is plant based, cruelty-free, and sustainably-sourced.

If you’re looking to ease into the world of anti-aging skincare, or if you’ve had adverse reactions to classic retinol products, then moth bean extract is a great ingredient to add into your routine. With its natural, gentle makeup but effective results, it’ll quickly become one of your most treasured ingredients.

By Michala Jackson