Retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is a skin care ingredient with countless clinical studies on its effectiveness at treating the signs of aging. Not only does it work on wrinkles, fine lines and uneven skin tone, but it can also be used to treat acne. This superpowered ingredient works by speeding up cell turnover to exfoliate skin and stimulate collagen production. The result? A smoother, firmer, younger-looking complexion. But with so many products on the market, it can be tough to figure out which are the best retinol treatments to invest in.
The most significant cause of visible skin aging is sun exposure. In fact, about 90 percent of aging is sun-accelerated. The best action you can take to protect your skin is to wear sunscreen. You’ll also want to be especially careful about protecting your skin when using retinol treatments. Retinol makes skin more sensitive to UV rays, and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product. Dermatologists recommend using retinol only at night and applying SPF 30 or higher during the day.
Another cause of aging might surprise you. A new from the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University study warns that too much blue light from electronics, such as televisions, laptops and smartphones, can also accelerate the aging process. The authors of the study found that exposure to blue light led to a reduction in the levels of molecules, such as glutamate, that facilitate communication between neurons. This decrease in glutamate levels could potentially lead to a decline in brain function and premature aging.
Aging is something we can’t escape, but using retinol can help to decrease the visible effects on your skin. To help you figure out the best retinol treatment, StudyFinds did the research and consulted a multitude of expert beauty and health sources. We’ve compiled of the found the top five anti-aging products, basing our list on the top recommendations across these sites. What are your own holy grail retinol products? Let us know in the comments below!
The List: Best Retinol Treatments, According to Experts
1. Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream
Beautiful skin is always in style. And InStyle’s pick for the best product for aging skin is Drunk Elephant’s Retinol Cream: “Along with gentle 1% vegan retinol, it contains ingredients like passionfruit, apricot, marula, and jojoba oils to nourish and moisturize skin while fighting fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage. The lightweight texture absorbs into the skin beautifully — plus, a little goes a long way as you only need a pea-sized amount.”
“Dr. Kim, [New York-based board-certified dermatologist,] recommends Drunk Elephant’s A-Passioni Retinol Cream, which contains 1 percent retinol encased in nourishing oils like passionfruit, apricot, jojoba, and marula. It also happens to a Best of Beauty Award winner, in case that sways you,” Allure writes.
The New York Post ranks this as the best retinol cream and backs it up with the recommendation of a board-certified dermatologist: “‘With 1% retinol, most people will find they can acclimate to this product quickly with little dryness or irritation,’ Dr. Katz said.”
2. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
This drugstore serum is another dermatologist favorite. According to TODAY, “Three of the derms we polled cited this affordable CeraVe retinol serum as one of their go-tos. ‘It contains hyaluronic acid, glycerin and ceramides, which hydrate the skin, and niacinamide and licorice root extract, which help with uneven dark discoloration,’ says Dr. Debra Jaliman, board-certified dermatologist. Dr. Liia Ramachandra, a former pharma executive, enjoys the lightweight, gel-like consistency, calling it ‘great for acne.’”
Health.com raves, “CeraVe was a favorite of the dermatologists we spoke to, hitting a perfect blend of a good retinol strength for both new and experienced users and ingredients that keep skin soft and smooth during use. Best of all, like all CeraVe products, it’s affordable. Coming in at under $20, this resurfacing retinol provides dermatologist-recommended care without being expensive.”
Reader’s Digest thinks if you’ve who have dealt with acne or have sensitive skin, you’ll love this serum: “Whether you’ve suffered from acne and have the scars to prove it, have a hard time finding products that don’t irritate your sensitive skin or have normal skin that gives you minimal trouble, you’ll benefit from this gentle resurfacing serum. It contains encapsulated retinol. This serum also contains soothing niacinamide, brightening licorice root extract and restorative ceramides.”
3. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Retinol Cream
Don’t Waste Your Money gives this product a 10/10 review, writing: “In this jar, you’ll get 1.7 ounces of face cream. The formula includes retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark spots plus hyaluronic acid for moisture. The formula contains no parabens, mineral oil or dyes and you can choose a fragrance-free version. This cream promises to temporarily diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a smooth complexion.”
“[Board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Honet,] highlighted Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Cream as a good and relatively affordable retinol cream. The brand says that its patented accelerated formula uses retinol, glucose complex and hyaluronic acid to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and give the skin a smoother appearance without irritating the skin,” NBC News reports.
The Strategist says this product is beginner-friendly: “If you’ve never used a retinol before, consider easing into it — because, again, retinol can be very drying and you won’t know how your skin will react at first. A good first retinol to try is this Neutrogena cream recommended by dermatologist Dr. Britt Craiglow. She explains that this retinol product is ‘formulated along with glycerin and hyaluronic acid, which hydrates the skin and helps to increase tolerability.’”
4. Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream
Dealing with dry skin? Healthline recommends this product: “Retinol products can be drying, no matter your skin type. But if you already have dry skin, they can make dryness even worse. Thankfully, this hydrating cream works to soothe dry, rough skin without irritation. While retinol helps to stimulate collagen production and reverse signs of photo-aging, bakuchiol helps to reduce redness or irritation.”
Harper’s BAZAAR calls this the best firming retinol cream, saying: “This face cream is a powerhouse of skin-restoring ingredients. In addition to retinol, it also contains plumping hyaluronic acid, ferulic acid to minimize hyperpigmentation, and the brand’s signature ECG Complex to keep skin firm.”
“This buttery moisturizer is formulated with hydrating antioxidants like centella asiatica alongside anti-aging powerhouses retinol and bakuchiol. Bakuchiol is often compared to retinol thanks to its similar abilities to fight acne, minimize wrinkles, and reduce photo-aging by targeting similar cellular pathways. It also works great alongside retinol to help promote its skin care benefits without irritation,” MindBodyGreen says.
5. RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream
Forbes thinks this is the best drugstore retinol cream: “This little gold tube is a classic for a reason: RoC was one of the first drugstore brands to sell a stable retinol product. Years later, its non-greasy yet hydrating night cream (and the corresponding eye cream) are both still bestsellers.”
Byrdie writes, “RoC makes some of the best drugstore options, and the Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is a well-deserved fan favorite. It combines vitamin C, squalane, and shea butter with a gentle dose of retinol to bring you healthier, more radiant-looking skin with continued use.”
“If potency is a priority for you, [dermatologist] Dr. Houshmand recommends RoC’s Deep Wrinkle Night Cream, which is one of the highest-strength retinol you can get over the counter, meaning you may see its resurfacing effects sooner than with other products. Marisa Garshick MD, FAAD, also likes this product because it contains hyaluronic acid, which can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines,” SELF explains.
You might also be interested in:
- Best Anti-Wrinkle Creams
- Best Skin Care Face Masks
- Best Skin Tightening Cream
- Best Pimple Patches
- Best Wrinkle Patches
- New York Post
- Reader’s Digest
- Don’t Waste Your Money
- NBC News
- The Strategist
- Harper’s Bazaar
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.