Updated November 23, 2020One of the most tried-and-true weapons in the fight against aging, retinol packs a powerful, multi-dimensional punch that can help you knock out everything from fine lines and wrinkles to uneven skin tone to adult acne. Anti-aging creams and serums can help you look young well into your middle age, particularly if you start using them while you still are young.Unlike a lot of products that only treat breakouts or signs of aging, retinol is unique in that it’s a gold standard for treating both, as well as a laundry list of other skin issues. If you’re wanting to give retinol a go, here are our favorites for different skin types, skin issues, and skincare budgets.Best Hyaluronic Acid SerumsBest Retinol For Dry Skin: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide CapsulesBest Retinol For Oily Skin: Serum 16 by CosMedixBest Retinol For Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant: A-Passioni Retinol CreamBest Retinol For Eyes: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Eye CreamBest Retinol For Uneven Skin Tone: Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol TreatmentBest Low-Cost Retinol: Olay Regenerist Night Recovery CreamBest High-Concentration Retinol: Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid SerumBest Retinol/Hyaluronic Acid Combo: Beauty Pie Super Retinol Ceramide-Boost Anti-aging Face SerumCream and SerumHighlightPriceElizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide CapsulesSingle-use capsules helps the product remain efficient.$51 to $107Serum 16 by CosMedixHydrators protect the skin's moisture barrier while retinol targets aging signs.$80Drunk Elephant: A-Passioni Retinol CreamFormula blends passionfruit, apricot, marula, and jojoba oils for more moisture.$74Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Eye CreamGives the skin around the eyes a smoother, youthful look.$69Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol TreatmentRetinol and vitamin C helps skin look bright and spot-free.$58Olay Regenerist Night Recovery CreamBudget-friendly, fragrance-free night cream helps revitalize the skin and retain youthful looks.$33.49Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid SerumFormula includes Hawaiian white honey, cactus extract, and ginger for an even complexion.$85Beauty Pie Super Retinol Ceramide-Boost Anti-aging Face SerumAnti-aging benefits from included retinol and hyaluronic acid.$90Best Retinol For Dry Skin: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide CapsulesThis retinol is formulated with ceramides and emollient oil, giving an extra shot of fortification and hydration to your skin. It also comes in capsule form, meaning its potency is protected. Retinol loses its efficacy quickly when it’s exposed to air or light, so the single-use capsule format helps keep this product strong to the last drop.Best Retinol For Oily Skin: Serum 16 by CosMedixSerum 16 is a powerful compound that doesn’t just treat wrinkles—with a number of ingredients including vitamin E and salicylic acid, it can help unclog pores and keep oily skin clear of zits and breakouts too. With its hydrating and gentle formula, it’s ideal for all skin types, but the intense moisture can be especially helpful for oily skin, since your oil-glands may shift out of overdrive if you keep your skin well-hydrated.Best Retinol For Sensitive Skin: Drunk Elephant: A-Passioni Retinol CreamFormulated without fragrances, silicones, essential oils, or drying alcohols, this cream is perfect for anyone with a sensitivity to one of these ingredients. Furthermore, other active ingredients like marula oil, fruit oils, kale leaf extract, and their patented triple peptide blend can soothe sensitive skin, both helping protect it from the irritating effects of the retinol as well as shielding it from environmental stressors.Best Retinol For Eyes: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Eye CreamThe combination of ferulic acid and retinol gives this eye cream its luxurious feel and intense potency. Rich in antioxidants, vitamin E, and amino acids as well, this formula is gentle enough to be used around the eyes and powerful enough to deliver noticeable results. It’s great for reducing puffiness, diminishing dark circles, and banishing crow’s feet and fine lines.Best Retinol For Uneven Skin Tone: Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol TreatmentThis serum packs a one-two punch of retinol and vitamin C, meaning it’s perfect for people wanting to restore skin’s brightness and correct dark spots. Both retinol and vitamin C are famous for their tone-evening abilities, and combining them delivers double the splotch-fighting power. This formula also includes licorice extract to fight redness and combat retinol’s irritating properties.Best Low-Cost Retinol: Olay Regenerist Night Recovery CreamClocking in at under $30, this retinol cream still packs a powerful combo of anti-aging ingredients. Niacinamide, vitamin B5, amino-peptides, and panthenol are all featured in this affordable option. As one of the most well-known brands on the skincare market, you can also trust you’re getting a quality product with Olay.Best High-Concentration Retinol: Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid SerumA+ serum combines a 1 percent retinol solution with a 5 percent retinoid ester blend for an intense shot of vitamin A. With additional ingredients like blue-green algae extract and Hawaiian white honey, this serum is perfect for anyone looking for serious results. Just beware of potential irritation if you have sensitive skin or are new to retinol.Best Retinol/Hyaluronic Acid Combo: Beauty Pie Super Retinol Ceramide-Boost Anti-aging Face SerumWith the perfect balance of hydration and rejuvenation, this retinol serum is a great option for anyone looking to combine the anti-aging properties found in both retinol and hyaluronic acid in one quick step. It also boasts lactic acid and a ceramide blend for extra repairing power.Retinol Fast FactsLike other retinoids, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, which is one of the nutrients the body needs to produce new cells and get rid of old ones. This process is known as cell turnover.While many people use the word “retinol” as a catchall phrase, retinol is actually one type of retinoid. Other kinds include adapalene, retinyl esters, retinoic acid, and retinaldehyde.Retinol works by stimulating collagen and elastin production as well as speeding up cell turnover, which can do everything from smoothing fine lines to evening skin tone to reducing age spots to plumping skin.Contrary to popular belief, retinol doesn’t actually exfoliate the skin. The exfoliation myth may have come from the fact that retinol can cause peeling.Adding Retinol to Your Daily RoutineIt’s not hard to incorporate retinol creams and serums into your daily routine. Many people prefer to reserve them for their nighttime routines, since retinol breaks down when exposed to the sun. However, you can still wear it during the day if you cover it with a special face sunscreen. The sunscreen’s SPF should be at least 30 for adequate protection.Our skin care routine has the following steps:First is a cleanser to remove the gunk in your skin and pores.Next is an exfoliant. We don’t recommend over-using chemical peels, so you might want to switch them up with a simple scrub.Then comes a face toner, which lays a strong foundation for the rest of your products.If you have adult acne, this is when you apply any spot treatments your face needs.Next are serums, which penetrate deep to work their magic.After serums come the creams. Dab some eye cream around your eyes to minimize dark undereye circles and wrinkles.Then apply a natural face moisturizer to lock everything in.Last is sunscreen with a SPF between 30 and 50.Don’t shackle yourself to our routine, however. Slight deviations may be necessary, depending on your product’s consistencies. We always recommend starting with light, liquid products and moving to heavier, creamy products.For example, while we usually recommend eye cream as your first cream product, you might want to switch it up if you have a heavy eye cream and a light moisturizer. The heavy cream can penetrate better through the lighter moisturizer than the other way around.No matter how you structure your routine, though, sunscreen should always be your final step.FAQsDo I need sunscreen with retinol?Absolutely! And you need sunscreen without retinol. It’s important to protect your skin from the sun every day regardless of what product you’re using.While it’s really a myth that retinol makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, it does break down with sun exposure. If you wear retinol during the day, covering it with an SPF can help it retain its efficacy on your skin.Can retinol cause adverse reactions?Sometimes. Retinol can be irritating, especially to sensitive skin, and also if the product is highly concentrated. Common side-effects can include itchiness, redness, dryness, scaly patches, and peeling. Rarer side effects are acne or eczema flare-ups, skin discoloration, and a burning or stinging sensation after application.You’re more likely to experience these side effects if you’re a novice retinol user. If you’ve never used retinol before, it’s better to start off with a low-concentration product and work your way up from there. Also remember to do a patch test on every new product you use before putting it all over your face.Who should use retinol?The short answer is anyone can use retinol. Unless you have highly sensitive skin, retinol usually has something to offer your skincare routine. However, there are a few specific skincare needs retinol works best for, including acne, fine lines and wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and dull or tired-looking skin.How long does it take to see the effects of retinol?A lot of people think they’ll see the results of their retinol use in 4 to 6 weeks, but this is not true. Most of the time, it takes a minimum of 12 weeks for you to start seeing positive results from your retinol use. You might also experience the “retinol uglies” before you see positive results.The retinol uglies don’t happen to everyone, but if they do happen, it’s usually for a couple weeks right after you start using retinol. This is the time when your skin adjusts to the new product, which might result in peeling, redness, and dryness. Don’t worry. If you stick with it, this adjustment period will give way to more luminescent and clearer skin.How can I integrate retinol into my skincare routine?If you’re new to retinol, there are a few things to know. First, start off slow; don’t use the product every single night. If you want to acclimate your skin and lower the risk of the retinol uglies, use your retinol product once every other night or once every three nights and slowly increase the frequency from there.Also consider mixing retinol gels or serums into your moisturizer for a few weeks, which will force the product to be easier on your skin. Keep the amount of serum/gel small when you’re just starting out—use just a few drops of serum or a dollop of gel no larger than a pea.Bottom LineRetinol is one of those elusive skincare products that seem to be able to do everything you need it to do and then some. However, if you’re a novice user or have sensitive skin, it can be a little like playing with fire—it’ll provide your skin with a ton of great benefits, but there’s a chance you could get burned.The good news is for most people who experience initial side effects of retinol use, these “retinol uglies” will eventually give way to amazing skin.This article is for informational purposes and should not replace advice from your doctor or other medical professional. Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.