We’d be surprised if you’ve yet to hear of the multi-functional magic of retinol. The powerhouse ingredient is a derivative of vitamin A and can handle a variety of your most common skincare concerns in one fell swoop. In brief, retinol stimulates collagen, increases cell turnover, and can visibly fix the signs of sun damage. So, whether you’re struggling with hyperpigmentation, fine lines, deep wrinkles, acne, or textured skin, retinol can get the job done.
Ahead, we're breaking down all the information you need to know about retinol, the best retinol-infused products, and how you can make it a regular part of your skincare regimen.
What is Retinol?
As mentioned earlier, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A that stimulates the production of collagen, which can help to diminish the look of wrinkles, smooth texture, fade dark marks, and clear acne and congested skin. Retinol can also stimulate new blood vessels, which can improve skin color, too. With this kind of anti-aging power, it's not uncommon for retinol users to experience some not-so-pleasant side effects. With that, we’re here to give you the best ways to combat those risks and side effects, so you can still enjoy all of the age-fighting benefits retinol has to offer.
Best Practices When Using Retinol
A general rule of thumb when using retinol: start slow. Retinol is known to cause drying, irritation, and redness, so it's important to proceed with caution and use a low concentration of retinol when first introducing the ingredient into your skincare routine. Dermatologists suggest starting with a low concentration of 0.05% in pea-sized amounts two to three themes a week before building up to more frequent use. To avoid irritation and dryness, you should also consider using only one vitamin A product at a time and layer on a moisturizer before and after you apply retinol.
Also, it’s important to always use a broad spectrum SPF 30+ sunscreen when using retinol products. Retinol increases your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, so applying sunscreen ensures your skin is protected from the harsh environmental elements that can exacerbate the very issues—dark marks, fine lines, wrinkles, acne—you’re trying to fix.
How We Found The Best Retinol Products
In search of the best retinol products out there, we looked to our data-driven algorithm for answers. Our shopping recommendations are backed by best-seller lists, real user reviews, editorial mentions, and more, so you can shop our Top 10 list with full confidence. Whether you’re looking to reduce the appearance of wrinkles or fade dark marks, keep scrolling for the best retinol products with age-fighting benefits you’re sure to fall in love with.
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Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.
It Cosmetics Hello Results Daily Retinol Serum-Cream
WHAT IT DOES: This powerful hybrid formula is equal parts anti-aging serum and cream. A dual retinol blend that reaches down at least 15 layers into the skin’s surface is packed into a lightweight cream that also contains vitamin B3 and vitamin E to soothe, hydrate, and calm the skin.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: The IT Cosmetics advisory board of plastic surgeons and dermatologists worked together to ensure the Hello Results Daily Retinol Serum-Cream delivered effective results with care.
Kate Somerville Retinol Vitamin C Moisturizer
WHAT IT DOES: A combination of retinol, vitamin C, and wild gooseberry extract makes this rich moisturizer a triple threat. Just apply a thin layer to the face and neck at night, and wake up to brighter, nourished, and firmer skin.
USER REVIEW: "This stuff is fantastic. My sensitive skin has no problem with it, and I wake up in the morning with my skin feeling noticeably soft but not oily. I’ve used separate retinol and Vitamin C serums in the past, but the convenience of this moisturizer is unbeatable, and the results appear the same.
Kiehl's Since 1851 Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum
WHAT IT DOES: This lightweight moisturizer is formulated with a potent microdose of retinol that is gentle enough for daily use, so you won’t have to worry about visible signs of redness or dryness. It's also strong enough to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, refine texture, minimize the look of pores, and even complexion.
FROM THE EXPERTS: In a clinical study of over 130 women, 100% showed reduced wrinkles after 12 weeks, while 91% agreed skin looked more even.
RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Facial Night Cream
WHO IT'S FOR: If you struggle with deep wrinkles or noticeable expression lines, this retinol night cream can help. Thanks to RoC’s exclusive mineral complex and award-winning retinol, this formula adds a boost of hydration while reducing the look of wrinkles and lines while you sleep.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: RoC's retinol is combined with ingredients like vitamin E, making it a gentle, non-irritating formula. Proof: clinical studies show virtually no signs of irritation with continued use.
LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream Moisturizer
WHAT IT DOES: Infused with hyaluronic acid, shea butter and jojoba oil among other highly moisturizing ingredients, this nourishing retinol cream is made to fight the signs of aging skin to reveal your natural, radiant complexion.
USER REVIEW: "I'm 55 years old. I've been using this product for about six months. I bought it because I was tired of paying over $100 for department store products, and I figured it couldn't hurt to try something new. All I can say is that my skin looks great. It's tight, it's clear, and it has a healthy glow.
Made In Usa
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: This highly advanced form of retinoid is more effective at fighting signs of aging than retinol. Safe for all skin types, it’s formulated with a stable retinoid that can work to fade dark marks and hyperpigmentation and reduce wrinkles and fine lines over time.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion is cruelty-free and formulated without oil, alcohol, silicone, and fragrance, which means it won’t cause skin irritation for even the most sensitive users.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
WHO IT'S FOR: Regular retinol users can look to this highly concentrated retinol night cream to exfoliate the skin, which in turn encourages cell turnover, minimizes breakouts, and diminishes the look of pores. And since it contains a blend of chamomile and frankincense, it also promotes calm skin.
HELPFUL TIP: Use a high, broad-spectrum SPF while using this product, as retinol may increase photosensitivity.
Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: With 1% vegan retinol, there is nothing this clean, cutting-edge formula can’t handle. Whether you’re experiencing dark spots, a loss in firmness, dullness, or uneven texture, Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream uses fatty acids and a triple-Peptide blend to boost the age-fighting benefits of the retinol at work, while restoring your skin’s bounce and texture.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: Not a trace of silicones, essential oils, or fragrances can be found in this clean formula, so you can rest assured this product will benefit the health of your skin without compromising your skin in the slightest.
Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 + Peptide Night Face Moisturizer Cream
WHAT IT DOES: Formulated with a blend of retinol and niacinamide (aka vitamin B3), this deeply hydrating nighttime facial moisturizer goes down into the skin’s layers for an overnight rejuvenation you’re sure to notice in the morning.
WHO IT’S FOR: If your skin is mature, sensitive, or dry, look to this ultra-hydrating formula for a much-needed fix.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Regenerating Anti-Aging Face Cream
WHAT IT DOES: Praised for its effectiveness and affordability, this regenerating cream works deep within the skin’s surface to keep fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots at bay. Thanks to pure retinol and hyaluronic acid, you can expect to see visibly plump and younger-looking skin in just a week.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: This dermatologist-trusted retinol cream has racked up nearly 30,000 five-star reviews for its anti-aging and skin-loving benefits.