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Wilding Bioretinol Made My Mature Skin So Radiant

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To me, skin care is about more than how I look on the outside—it’s just as much about how it makes me feel on the inside. Some products calm and soothe, others energize and invigorate, but the effects are always more than skin-deep. That’s why I was so excited to discover Wildling, a skin-care and facial-tool brand founded by an acupuncturist, esthetician, and herbalist dedicated to creating products that benefit the skin while nurturing the mind, body, and spirit.

Wildling is “grounded in the connective force of plants, stones, and the cosmos,” according to the site, with a strong foundation in traditional Chinese medicine, particularly stone medicine, the practice of using crystals and stones for healing benefits. All the brand’s skin-care products are infused with the vibration of moonstone, a gemstone known to calm the mind and balance emotions, according to brand co-founder Gianna De La Torre, an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine scholar.

“The practice of stone medicine is one of the oldest forms of healing—you would add crystals or stones to your water and infuse them for a period of time before drinking the water in order to get the vibrational benefits,” says De La Torre. “We infuse the waters and oils in [Wildling skin-care products] with moonstone for a period of time before adding them to the formula.”

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The brand also places special emphasis on the effects scent has on mind and mood, using only complete plant extracts of sustainably wild foraged plants in partnership with local farms and fair-trade communities, says Jill Munson, herbalist and brand co-founder.

“We consider the known skin, mind, and spirit benefits of each ingredient when formulating scent into our products,” says Munson. “Our fragrances are 100-percent natural, non-synthetic, and we never use essential oils in any of our products.” This is because essential oils aren’t necessarily eco-friendly, especially at scale, depending on how they’re produced, sourced, packaged, and distributed.

What Wildling’s two new products did for my skin—and beyond

I recently tried Wildling’s latest additions to the line: Starnectar Barrier Protect Marshmallow Jelly Cleanser ($45), and Moonbounce 2% Bioretinol Irish Sea Moss Plumping Moisturizer ($28). The cleanser contains hydrating marshmallow root, licorice root to soothe inflammation, and orange peel to clean and brighten without stripping skin’s natural oils; meanwhile, the moisturizer is a plant-based retinol alternative designed to firm skin and reduce wrinkles without irritation.

“Our bioretinol is derived from the rock samphire plant [sea fennel] harvested from the Atlantic Coast of Brittany,” says co-founder and holistic esthetician Britta Plug McCrae. “Studies show that it increases collagen synthesis and improves skin thickness, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, accelerates exfoliation, and brightens skin, all while actually reducing irritation and inflammation rather than contributing to it. ”

I used the cleanser as directed, applying it dry, then lathering it with water, before removing it with a damp washcloth. The jelly had a relaxing, slightly warm feel on my face, and with just a touch of water transformed into a milky texture. Post-wash my skin felt, clean, soft, and supple. After cleansing, I used the Wildling Reflexology Spoon ($35) to apply the Wilding Bioretinol. The tool has an application scoop on one end and a reflexology tip to firm, release tension, and balance energy on the other. I enjoyed the ritual of applying the product, then activating pressure points on my face—leaving me with a double benefit of glowing, firmer skin, and some much-needed self-care.

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But can we talk about the scents? These are hands down two of the best-smelling products I’ve ever used. The cleanser’s scent profile is “warm, mildly sweet, and woody,” derived from tonka bean butter, plum kernel oil, and balsam copaiba. It reminded me of a warm, cozy fire, and seriously helped me unwind before bed, delivering on the promised mind-spirit benefits of “relaxation and calm.” The bioretinol has an earthy, spicy-sweet scent—a combination of tonka bean butter, and turmeric, carrot seed, and cardamom extracts—designed to “uplift and energize” both mind and spirit. The smell made me feel like I was sitting outside with a steaming chai latte, inhaling the aroma, then letting out a sigh.

As someone who believes in the far-reaching power of skin care and scents, I feel like Wildling is the self-care soul sister I’ve been searching for—I guess our coming together was written in the stars.

Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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