What Are The Best Products With Retinol?

by Gio

the best retinol products

What are the best retinol products?

The answer to this question may just change your skin for good. You see, retinol (and any other form of vitamin A, for that matter) is the only thing that can REALLY reduce wrinkles.

Here’s how it performs its magic:

  1. It has antioxidant properties that destroy the free radicals that cause premature wrinkles and dark spots.
  2. It accelerates cellular turnover (i.e. the skin’s natural exfoliating process), reducing the appearance of dark spots and wrinkles.
  3. It boosts the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin firm.

Retinol fights wrinkles, fades away dark spots and even treats acne. But it’s finicky AF. If you don’t formulate it properly, use too much or put it in the wrong packaging, it can spoil or irritate your skin.

Related: The Complete Guide To Retinol: What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It

How do you know which retinol creams and serums are worth the splurge? Here are the best retinol products for every skin type and need:

WARNING!

If you’re new to retinol, you may experience redness, peeling, dryness and irritation. Before picking a retinol product, check out this guide to find out how to counteract these side effects so you can get all the benefits without any of the pain.

Best Retinol Products For New Users: 0.01%-0.03%

Best For Oily Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00)

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol literally contains every antioxidant you can think of, plus a few drops of retinol (0.03%) to fight wrinkles and prevent premature aging. The weightless formula dries matte and is perfect for oily skin. If you’re still young and just want to dab your toes into retinol, this is the perfect way to get started for your skin type.

Available at: Dermstore, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Oily Skin

Best For Dry Skin: Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol ($34.00)

Like the oily skin version, Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentate Serum With Retinol contains every antioxidant under the sun plus the littlest drop of retinol (0.01%) to fight wrinkles. Don’t worry, even 0.01% is enough to make a difference. What makes it suitable for dry skin is the addition of plant oils to moisturise skin and soothing ingredients to reduce the risk of irritations. If you’re still young and just want to dab your toes into retinol, this is the perfect way to get started for your skin type.

Available at: Dermstore and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Best Skincare Routine For Dry Skin

Best Retinol Products For Intermediate Users: 0.04%-0.4%

Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum ($42.00/£39.00)

Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum has its fair share of antioxidants and soothing ingredients to fight free radicals and inflammation, two of the main causes of premature aging. But the star of the show is retinol at 0.1% concentration. The lightweight texture sinks in quickly and is suitable for all skin types.

Available at: Feel Unique, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice

Related: Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum Full Review

Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Night Cream ($62.00/£55.00)

Ok, Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Night Cream has a little alcohol, but if you follow this up with a facial oil to counteract the drying effects, you’re gonna be fine. It has enough retinol to up your antiaging game, fight deeper wrinkles and fade away dark spots faster. There’s not much else to say about it. It’s a simple formula that works.

Available at: Dermstore

Related: The Complete Guide To Facial Oils: Should You Add One To Your Skincare Routine?

La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment

La Roche Posay Redermic Anti-Aging Dermatological Treatment contains two forms of vitamin A: 0.1% retinol + retinyl linoleate, a gentler (and less effective) derivative of vitamin A. If you’re looking for a basic formula you can easily incorporate into your skincare routine without conflicts with other products, this is it. In true French skincare style, it’s as gentle as its effective.

Available at: Dermstore and Feel Unique

Related: Which Form Of Vitamin A Is Right For You?

Best Retinol Products For Pro Users: 0.5-1%+

Best for versatility: Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster ($52.00/£47.00)

Retinol may be the star of the show, but there’s a lot more to Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Booster than retinol alone. This booster is also loaded with antioxidants to prevent wrinkles, soothing ingredients to reduce the risk of irritations from retinol and the odd peptide to fight premature aging. The texture’s so lightweight, you can use it alone or mix it with your fave moisturizers and serums.

Available at: DermstoreFeel Unique and Paula’s Choice

Related: The Complete Guide To Boosters: What Are They And Should You Add One To Your Skincare Routine?

Best On A Budget: The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane (£5.80)

If you’re wondering how The Ordinary Retinol 1% In Squalane can be so cheap, it’s because a) the company doesn’t waste money on advertising and b) retinol plays solo here. It’s the only antiaging active in the formula. Squalane is there just to moisturize skin and counteract the drying effects of retinol so you don’t get peeling or redness. If you’re on a budget, it’s a great option to consider.

Available at: Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique

Related: What Are The Best Products From The Ordinary?

Best For Antiaging: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65.00/£62.50)

Ok, all these options are great anti-aging. What gives Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM the extra edge is the higher concentration of retinol: 1.5%. That makes it more effective but… doesn’t it make it more irritating too? In theory, yes. In practice, PTR uses time-released technology, a fancy way of saying the serum releases retinol into your skin over a period of several hours instead than all at once. Translation: it’s gentler on your skin. Plus, it has vitamins C & E to fight wrinkles and squalane to moisturize.

Available at: Beauty BayCult Beauty and Sephora

Related: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Full Review

What do you think are the best retinol products? Share your picks in the comments below.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.


Powered by ConvertKit

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

21 comments

Laurie April 18, 2016 - 11:06 pm

Good list! I use both the Paula’s Choice 1% and her retinol product for the body, since I’m starting to see sun damage on my neck and chest.

I would like to offer another tip: if you get waxed on any part of the body ex: I get a monthly brow shape), stop using the retinol in that area a few days before the treatment. It can take a few additional layers of skin off, which is pretty unsightly!

Reply
Barbara April 19, 2016 - 11:24 am

omg, hahaha great tip!!!!

Reply
Gio April 23, 2016 - 9:30 pm

Barbara, 🙂

Reply
Gio April 23, 2016 - 9:29 pm

Laurie, Paula’s products are the best, aren’t they? I like them because, unlike most retinol treatments, they also have lots of other antioxidants and soothing ingredients, which skin very much needs.

That’s such a great tip. I think we often tend to forget about that till it’s too late, and then… ouch!

Reply
Vivella April 19, 2016 - 8:34 am

Thanks for this great info! I wonder how much retinol is in Neutrogena? I use the Neutrogena serum most evenings but havent noticed anything different, though my skin is good anyway so it is hard to tell. I also use Rosehip seed oil several nights a week, on top of everything else for the past few years. I have been thinking of taking collagen supplements in tablet form, which apparently are also good for skin, etc. Im definitely going to keep this list of yours as it may be worth trying one of the Paula’s Choice options in future.

Reply
Gio April 23, 2016 - 9:32 pm

Vivella, my pleasure. I’m not really sure about the concentration in Neutrogena, but retinol is one of those things that work even at very low doses. If you aren’t seeing any improvements, though, you may need a higher concentration. Rosehip is a great oil, too, and very moisturizing.

Reply
Maya April 29, 2016 - 5:42 am

Thank you for this interesting post, i’m new to your site and learning so much!
Which of these would you recommend to normal skin?

Reply
Gio April 30, 2016 - 4:09 pm

Maya, welcome to the site. So glad you’re enjoying it.

If you have normal skin, you’ll be able to use most of these products, really. If you have wrinkles, I’d opt for Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment because it has the highest concentration of retinol. But, as normal skin doesn’t have any serious issues, Salma Hayek’s Nuance Capsules would work very well for you, too, and save you money as well.

Reply
alice pranger September 9, 2017 - 7:43 pm

Walmart has the Neutrogena for 11.99.

Reply
Gio September 17, 2017 - 8:25 am

Alice, great! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

Reply
Lori Doak November 18, 2017 - 11:46 pm

Has anyone used Peter Thomas Roth’s retionl fushion pm? If so what do you think of it?

Reply
Gio November 26, 2017 - 2:23 pm

Lori, this post would have been too long if I had included all the retinol products I like! PTR Retinol Fusion Pm is another good product. It’s pricey but it has enough retinol to be effective.

Reply
claire June 5, 2018 - 5:54 am

I know you don’t like eye creams, but my mom wants a nice one and I don’t have the budget for the one you recommended. Are there any other eye creams that are cheaper and good too?

Reply
Gio June 8, 2018 - 1:54 pm

Claire, you can check out my recommended eye creams and serums here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/best-eye-creams-serums/

there are options for every budget.

Reply
Trin June 10, 2018 - 6:08 pm

Hi!

I’m about to get a retinol product and have read very good things about sunday riley’s Luna serum and Resurface by shani darden. Have you tried them? What’s your opinion? And if you haven’t, any thoughts on the ingredient list? My skin is combination (oily/dry, yay!), I’m in my early 30s and it’s mainly for prevention, although I do have my first wrinkles on my forehead and hormonal acne, plus melasma, but I guess I’ll have to tackle that one separately! Thanks! 🙂

Reply
Trin June 10, 2018 - 6:11 pm

Or also Texture reform by shani darden, which is new and doesn’t have the same hype as the original yet, but seems more gentle?

Reply
Gio June 16, 2018 - 10:43 am

Trin, all these products don’t contain retinol itself but gentler derivatives of vitamin A. I’d avoid Texture reform because retinyl palmitate, the form of vitamin A it uses, is the least effective. But the other two products make good starting points for your retinol journey. Sunday Riley is fragranced so if you have sensitive skin, it may bother your skin. But if your skin can put up with it, it’s very moisturising.

Reply
Trin June 10, 2018 - 7:31 pm

Or even zelens’ power a!

Reply
Gio June 16, 2018 - 10:39 am

Trin, that’s another good one, too, I agree!

Reply
Cameron Martin February 26, 2019 - 2:02 pm

Is the packaging for THE ORDINARY RETINOL 1% IN SQUALANE acceptable?

Reply
Gio March 1, 2019 - 9:34 am

Cameron, yes it is. I believe it is UV tinted.

Reply

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.