There's a good chance you've heard of retinol—it's renowned for its ability to help solve skin issues of every kind. Also known as vitamin A, retinol is made up of small molecules that penetrate deep below the epidermis to the dermis, rather than simply removing the top layer of dead skin cells as many other anti-aging and acne products do. Studies have repeatedly shown that retinol prevents collagen from breaking down, reducing the development of fine lines and improving the complexion over time. To top it all off, retinol has also been proven to help reduce acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dry skin, rough texture, and blemishes—just to name a few.
It's important to note two things about retinol. Even though it's extremely effective, it does have some drawbacks—namely, it can cause irritation and typically comes at a high price point. To address the irritation part: if you're a beginner, serums and oils are an excellent place to start, as they usually contain lower percentages of retinol (think .25%). As your skin adjusts, you can transition to stronger formulations and more frequent application. And as for the price point, there are options out there that won't break the bank, you've just got to find the good ones (see products #9 and #5).
Whether you're new to retinol or simply want something different, take a look at the list below. We've rounded up an edit of the best retinol oils out there, all of which contain gentle doses of vitamin A along with extra ingredients that nourish and hydrate the skin, too.
How We Found The Best Retinol Oils
To round up this list, we turned to the help of our data-driven algorithm. This proprietary tool factors in best-selling buzz, editor recommendations, rave reviews, and more to find and rank the best products on the internet. Scroll on to shop the Top 10 retinol oils that will tackle everything from wrinkles and fine lines to acne and hyperpigmentation.
Next up, check out the 10 Best Hydrating Serums.
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.
Dermalogica Retinol Acne Clearing Oil
WHAT IT DOES: Combined with retinol and salicylic acid, this oil targets breakouts and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles overnight.
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Acne products can be extremely drying, but formulas containing the word "oil" can be scary. Fret not—reviewers rave that this cleared their breakouts fast and didn't leave the skin feeling greasy—just hydrated and glowy.
PIXI Retinol Overnight Oil
USER REVIEW: "Every time I use this before bed, the next morning, my skin is so clear and bright. I almost always have little bumps on my forehead, but they go away after using this. When I don't use this, the bumps return. So worth it!"
WHO IT'S FOR: As one of the more affordable options on the list, this retinol is meant to be worn overnight, renewing skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and texture.
Naturopathica Holy Basil & Retinol Ageless Night Oil
WHAT IT DOES: This nighttime oil contains a 1% retinol blend with holy basil that reduces fine lines and wrinkles and greatly improves the appearance of stressed, tired skin.
WHO IT'S FOR: This oil helps lighten pigmentation and ensures that skin feels and looks smoother, firmer, and more youthful.
111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil
WHAT IT DOES: This splurge-worthy treatment is formulated with 1% pure retinol that helps to improve texture and tone. And since the retinol is paired with a blend of eight natural oils, the chances of irritation and peeling are at a minimum.
USER REVIEW: “After the first night’s application, my skin was noticeably smoother without any signs of redness or irritation. I’m super impressed!”
StriVectin S.t.a.r Light Retinol Night Oil
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: Gentle and non-irritating, this top-rated retinol oil makes the skin feel buttery soft to the touch.
ABOUT THE BRAND: StriVectin believes in one thing: the power of what works. Founded in 2002, the company is passionate about uncovering the most effective skincare and hair care solutions that are clinically proven to help women look and feel their very best.
Drunk Elephant A-Gloei Maretinol Oi
WHO IT'S FOR: Acceptable for both new and experienced retinol users, this oil is formulated with a combination of virgin marula oil, ceramides, and retinol to rejuvenate skin and reduce irritation. Combined, these ingredients ensure a gentle delivery for the retinol which can be sensitizing.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: This retinol is vegan, cruelty-free, and made from recyclable packaging.
Mara Evening Primrose + Green Tea Algae Retinol Oil
WHY PEOPLE LOVE IT: With ingredients like brown seaweed, evening primrose, green tea, and algae, this oil is a luxurius serum meant to hydrate and plump up the skin while reducing the appearance of fine lines and texture. In addition, it's cruelty, gluten, and alcohol-free with sustainable ingredient-sourcing and a vegan composition.
HOW TO USE: Start by applying 6-8 drops to clean skin in the evening two or three times a week, building up to nightly usage. Make sure not to use this during the day, and remember to wear sunscreen.
Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Featuring retinol SA, this moisturizer nourishes the skin and helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. For under $40, you can't go wrong.
USER REVIEW: “I was a bit hesitant on trying an 'oil,' but this product is so lightweight, not at all greasy, and very clearly helped my skin look younger and less wrinkly. So glad I got to try it early—I'm a fan!”
Tata Harper Skincare Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil
WHAT IT DOES: This natural face oil minimizes the appearance of wrinkles and targets all signs of aging with vitamin A derived from rosehips.
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW: You can also use this nourishing oil as a cuticle-softening agent.
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil
WHO IT'S FOR: While great for all skin types, this silky, nourishing oil is perfect for people with dry skin. It's formulated with retinol and blue tansy, which calms and reduces redness, wrinkles, and pores.
WHAT IT DOES: Throughout the night, this oil helps prepare the skin for a radiant, even tone in the morning. With an ultra-stable, gentle retinol ester and a collection of lightweight, nourishing oils, it soothes the appearance of surface redness for a calm, visibly even-toned complexion.