Your Guide To The Skincare Benefits Of Rambutan

"You should start using retinol once you hit your late twenties" — these are words you've probably heard repeatedly if you're into skincare and for good reason. Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is known for its ability to smooth skin texture, increase skin cell turnover, and reduce visible signs of aging (per the American Academy of Dermatology). However, while retinol can be incredibly effective in keeping your skin right and tight, it is notorious for its potential to cause irritation.

From peeling and itching to flakiness and retinol burns, retinol is undoubtedly a challenging ingredient to incorporate and maintain in your skincare routine. As a result, many of us have explored various alternatives, some of which are comparable and others that are not. Enter rambutan, a retinol alternative and skincare gem from Asia that could provide excellent results without irritation.

Native to Southeast Asia and similar to the lychee fruit, rambutan is a juicy superfruit packed with antioxidants and other skin-loving ingredients that may offer numerous benefits for your skin. Like bakuchiol and alfalfa, which are also considered retinol alternatives, rambutan is used in skincare formulations. Bid farewell to retinol burns and embrace all the benefits that rambutan can bring to your beauty routine.

Repair cellular damage with rambutan

Your skin, the largest organ of your body, acts as the first line of defense against the outside world. However, it undergoes a lot of stress from factors such as sunlight, harsh chemicals, and pollution. These environmental stressors generate free radicals, small molecules that damage your skin cells and reduce their efficiency over time. As a result, dull skin, fine lines, and age spots can appear due to this continuous cycle of cell damage, as explained by Yuma Dermatology.

To combat these free radicals, you need antioxidants that can neutralize them. Rambutan happens to shine in this area. "The peel, pulp, and seed are rich in sugars, tannins, and flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties," board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King explained to Well+Good. Rambutan also offers a hefty dose of vitamin C, which, according to Harvard Health, can mop up free radicals and promote skin cell regeneration. This results in a more even skin tone, reduced hyperpigmentation and inflammation, and ultimately healthier, improved skin.

Rambutan improves collagen synthesis

Aging: You may have heard about it and are likely to become familiar with it firsthand. You may also be familiar with collagen and elastin, which are connective tissues that maintain the structure of your skin. "After the age of 20, the dermis layer produces 1% less collagen each year. It is a natural aging process known as intrinsic aging," explained Dr. Garry Cussell, clinical director at the Rejuvenation Clinics of Australia. "The collagen and elastin fibres become thinner and looser as we age, which means our skin is less elastic, which eventually causes wrinkling and sagging." 

To address the decrease in collagen, antioxidants are, once again, the solution. Vitamin C has been proven to help increase and maintain collagen synthesis (per WebMD). Rambutan also contains some manganese, a mineral that, according to Healthline, can enhance wound healing by promoting collagen synthesis in the skin. With such a potent combination, rambutan is an excellent ingredient for skincare formulations that aim to reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

Rambutan offers gentle hydration

When we described rambutan as a skin-loving superfruit, we meant it. Rambutan not only helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and crow's feet around the eyes, but it also has deep hydrating properties when used in skincare products, according to Dr. Dennis Gross. This hydration is primarily due to rambutan's ability to lock in moisture, keeping the skin hydrated for longer periods. Combined with its collagen-synthesizing benefits from vitamin C, rambutan may provide soft, firm, and elastic skin.

Unlike retinol, rambutan is much gentler and can be used by anyone, including those with mature skin, sensitive skin, or pregnant and lactating mothers. "Because rambutan is hydrating yet still delivers excellent anti-aging benefits, I recommend it for those with sensitive or dry skin," dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman shared with Aedit. "It's great for someone who wants to keep their skin looking youthful without risking the uncomfortable side effects of retinol." With rambutan, you can enjoy the anti-aging and skin-repairing benefits without experiencing the redness, purging, or irritation commonly associated with retinol.

How to add rambutan into your routine

Rambutan, with its powerful combination of antioxidants and hydrators, plays well with other skincare ingredients and is suitable for all skin tones and types. Unlike retinol, rambutan is gentle enough to be used both in the morning and evening, double board-certified dermatologist Brendan Camp told Byrdie. However, it is important to note that while rambutan is a gentle anti-aging ingredient, some individuals may still have sensitivities or allergies to it. Therefore, it is recommended to conduct a patch test before committing to any rambutan-containing products. 

Rambutan-infused products are available in different forms, such as serums, night creams, skin treatments, and even hair care items. However, similar to other antioxidant-rich ingredients, it is crucial to prioritize sun protection when using rambutan. If you use a product containing rambutan during the day, make sure to apply sunscreen as the final step to shield your skin from further sun damage.

For those who prefer serums for their daily rambutan fix, Alpyn Beauty's Wild Nettle & Niacinamide Firming Serum is an option worth considering. Priced at $58, this serum offers a potent blend of plant-based antioxidants for your skin. Alternatively, if you require additional hydration, the Fresh Black Tea Anti-Aging Ceramide Moisturizer is a lightweight formula that combines black tea and rambutan that retails for $95.