(Trial Run)

I Didn't Use Retinol For A Year — This New Oil Formula Made Me A Believer Again

So glowy.

Model wearing a Drunk Elephant A-Gloei Maretinol Oil

In our series Trial Run, TZR editors and writers put the buzziest new beauty products to the test and share their honest reviews. This week, we tested the new Drunk Elephant A-Gloei Maretinol Oil.

If you have sensitive skin but still want to reap the benefits of retinol, you might want to sit down for this: Drunk Elephant recently launched its A-Gloei Maretinol Oil, a 0.5% retinol oil that provides all the benefits of a retinoid while minimizing irritation.

Now, incorporating a new product into any sensitive skin care routine is a daunting task, as you’ll never quite know how your skin will react to the formula. This is especially true with retinol. Even though it is an amazing ingredient for speeding up cell renewal, banishing fine lines and wrinkles, lessening the appearance of scars and pigmentation, and diminishing breakouts, it can cause redness, irritation and flaking (particularly around the mouth) during the first few weeks of use.

Given that I have sensitive skin, I’ve always tried to stay away from the ingredient as much as possible, which led me to go a full year without retinol. But Drunk Elephant took people like me into consideration when formulating the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil and decided to create an oil that will restore the lipid barrier, soothe the skin, and keep it protected with antioxidants.

Intrigued by the balance of retinol’s power and the potential soothing benefits, I put it to the test for four weeks.

My skin before starting my new retinol routine.Isabella Sarlija

The Juicy Deets on the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil

This vegan and cruelty-free oil contains a 0.5% retinol, which is a gentler percentage than the brand’s previous retinol product, which sits at 1%, so it’s a great option for anyone with sensitive skin or who is new to using retinol in general. To counteract the notoriously sensitizing effects of retinol, the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil contains a blend of emollient ingredients to prevent water loss, boost hydration, and help soothe your skin. It also has ceramides that help to restore the skin’s lipid barrier, while also improving elasticity.

Along with this, omega-rich virgin marula oil makes up 95% of this formula, which is incredibly moisturizing, and can help combat any drying on account of the retinol. Virgin marula has some great antioxidant benefits, which is critical for someone looking to protect their skin from damaging free radicals. There aren’t any essential oils, silicones, or fragrances either, making it even better for those with sensitive skin.

Isabella Sarlija

Now, this nourishing formula minimizes the dryness and irritation that can result from using retinol — but how does the bottle help protect the retinol inside? The packaging is made from recyclable reinforced glass with a white frost that completely surrounds the bottle. This is important to note, since retinol is a highly volatile ingredient, meaning that it breaks down pretty quickly and loses its potency in the sunlight. This packaging is noteworthy since it keeps the light out to ensure your product stays effective down to the very last drop.

My Skin After Using The A-Gloei Maretinol Oil

Although this formula is great for sensitive skin, I still took into consideration that I *was* introducing a new retinol to my routine, which always calls for a low-and-slow approach. I started off by using three drops of the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil on my face and neck three times a week for the first week, before my nighttime moisturizer. After that, I used it every night for a week.

And even though I only used this product at night, I always made sure to use sunscreen every morning. Sunscreen is critical in every skin care routine, but especially when using retinol since it *does* make the skin more susceptible to sun damage.

Isabella Sarlija

Of all the retinols I’ve tried in the past, the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil is by far the most effortless — especially now in the winter when my skin is already dry and stressed. Since this formula contains mostly virgin marula oil, it doused my skin with moisture, but it still felt pleasantly lightweight. I can either wear this oil and a simple water-gel moisturizer to bed during a calmer, less-intense skin care night, or I can layer it under a cocktail of moisturizers, oils, and sleeping masks without ever feeling too greasy.

I also had absolutely no flaking, redness, or irritation while using this formula, even when I was using it every day, which is pretty major for my sensitive skin. I’m seeing fewer fine lines on my forehead (thanks to the increased skin turnover from the retinol) and between my brows. My skin also looks more even, with far less redness in my cheeks and fewer signs of hyperpigmentation than I’m used to. Overall, my complexion felt much softer and smoother after using the oil for four weeks.

Do You Need The A-Gloei Maretinol Oil?

So for the million-dollar question: Do you need this retinol in your routine? I’d say you needed this formula yesterday. It retails at $72 for a 30mL bottle, placing it at a median price point when comparing it to other high-end retinol formulas on the market. And sure, with consistent use, most retinols should lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, decrease blackheads and breakouts, and minimize scars and sunspots, leading to an all-around even complexion — but what other formulas lack, however, is the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil’s moisturizing power. It’s a 2-in-1 bonus for anyone with sensitive skin, or anyone struggling with dry skin this winter.

I get that trying a new retinol is scary — but take it from me, a person who stayed away from retinol for a full year out of worry, the A-Gloei Maretinol Oil gave me absolutely everything I needed from retinol while keeping my skin moisturized, soft, and dewy.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.