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Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, which may have a range of benefits when a person applies it to the skin. People use retinol cream for wrinkles, acne, cellulite, and more.

Retinol may also help unclog pores, according to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. In 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an over-the-counter retinol gel to help treat acne in those aged 12 and over.

The amount of retinol varies widely from product to product, so it is important to find one with the correct strength for a person’s needs. People may wish to talk to a doctor about prescription-strength products.

According to a 2015 study involving 62 people, retinol can be effective. Over the course of 1 year using 0.1% stabilized retinol, crow’s feet fine lines improved by 44% and mottled pigmentation improved by 84%.

Please note that the author of this article has not tried any of these products. All information is research-based.

The following are some of the best retinol creams.

two woman standing in front of a mirror and applying one the best retinol cream to their facesShare on Pinterest
A person may need to use a retinol cream over several weeks to see any benefits.

SkinCeuticals, the manufacturer, state that this product can improve the appearance of:

  • fine lines
  • discoloration
  • wrinkles
  • pores
  • blemishes

Pros

  • It contains a moderate amount of retinol, which may work for beginners.
  • It comes in a noncomedogenic base for those prone to acne.

Cons

  • Some anecdotal reviews suggest that it may cause dry skin if a person uses it too often.

How to use

In the evening, apply a pea sized amount. Start by using it once or twice per week, gradually increasing the frequency.

A person can purchase SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3% online here.

This cream combines a higher concentration of retinol with moisturizing and emollient ingredients.

It also contains plant extracts, such as oat extract and willow bark. The manufacturer claims that these extracts have calming properties on the skin.

According to a 2015 study, oat extract can be beneficial for the skin due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2019 study found that willow bark extract also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The study suggests that willow bark extract can be a safe and effective option for managing bacterial skin conditions.

Pros

  • It contains a higher amount of retinol, which may be beneficial depending on a person’s reason for using it.
  • It may help moisturize the skin.
  • It contains plant extracts to help calm the skin.

Cons

  • Due to its higher concentration of retinol, it may not be suitable for those who have not used retinol before.
  • It may not be suitable for people with highly sensitive skin.

The manufacturer claims that some people may experience a delayed reaction to the 1% retinol. They recommend that a person should be aware of their skin’s reactions and adjust the usage accordingly.

If a person experiences redness, flaking, drying of the skin, or tenderness, they should reduce the amount they are using.

How to use

Apply at night to clean skin, starting with 2 or 3 nights each week.

Increase the frequency to every night if no irritation or excessive dryness occurs.

A person can purchase Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment online here.

Accelerated Retinol SA is Neutrogena’s key ingredient. It combines retinol with a glucose complex and hyaluronic acid.

The manufacturer says that this combination may help speed up retinol’s beneficial effects on the skin. However, there is limited research to confirm this.

Pros

  • It might be quicker to work than other retinol creams.
  • Neutrogena claim that a person can see the positive effects after 1 week.

Cons

  • According to some anecdotal sources, it may cause dry skin.

How to use

Apply once every other night, working up to twice daily if there is no redness or discomfort with continued use.

A person can purchase Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Retinol Cream online here.

This product contains a lower amount of retinol. First Aid Beauty (FAB) claim that this product is suitable for sensitive skin.

It combines retinol with peptides, which may help give skin a smoother and more plump appearance.

FAB claim that their product can improve the appearance of:

  • dullness
  • fine lines
  • fine wrinkles
  • uneven skin tone
  • uneven skin texture
  • skin elasticity

It also includes ingredients such as aloe, allantoin, and colloidal oatmeal.

This product is also:

  • gluten-free
  • vegan
  • nano-free
  • nut-free

Pros

  • It contains less retinol, which may be more suitable for those with sensitive skin.
  • FAB claim that it is suitable for balanced, dry, oily, and combination skin types.

Cons

  • The lower amount of retinol may not be enough for some people.

How to use

Apply one or two pumps up to three times weekly in the evening.

Gradually increase the frequency to every other evening, then to every evening, as tolerated.

A person can purchase FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate online here.

This cream contains retinol combined with vitamin C, which may help brighten the skin. However, studies on this are limited.

It also contains niacinamide, which, according to one 2005 study, may help improve skin tone.

Pros

  • It contains other potentially beneficial ingredients that may help with the skin’s appearance.
  • It may be suitable for use under makeup without clogging a person’s pores.

Cons

  • Although retinol is listed in the ingredients, there does not appear to be any information regarding the strength of the retinol that L’Oreal Paris use.

How to use

Apply to the skin every morning and evening.

A person can purchase L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Triple Power Moisturizer online here.

Some anecdotal sources suggest that this lotion is suitable for those with acne.

The manufacturer claims that the product is suitable for those with oily skin and those with a combination of oily and dry skin.

They also claim that the product does not contain:

  • parabens
  • sulfates
  • phthalates

The product contains queen of the meadow, or meadowsweet. This implies that it may be suitable for those with acne-prone skin.

According to 2014 research, meadowsweet extract has antimicrobial effects.

Pros

  • It may be beneficial for those with acne.

Cons

  • It may not be suitable for those with dry skin.
  • It is unclear much retinol is in the product.

How to use

Apply twice daily over other acne treatments and under sunscreen during the day.

A person can purchase Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion online here.

RoC contains pure retinol. It also contains minerals that may help nourish the skin.

The manufacturer claims that this product can produce results while also being gentle enough for a person to use it daily.

Pros

  • It is non-greasy and noncomedogenic.
  • It may be effective after 12 weeks of use.
  • A person can use it at night.

Cons

  • It is not fragrance-free.
  • The manufacturer does not state how much retinol the product contains.

How to use

Apply every other night to clean skin, increasing to every night if the skin tolerates it.

A person can purchase RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream online here.

With its own proprietary retinoid complex, along with amino peptides, the manufacturer claims this product can help make a person’s skin appear more smooth and firm.

It also claims that a person will see results in 4 weeks.

Pros

  • It is fragrance-free.
  • It is hydrating.

Cons

  • The manufacturer does not list the strength of the retinol in the product.
  • It might not be suitable for those with dry skin.

How to use

Massage the product over the face and neck every night.

A person can purchase Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Face Moisturizer online here.

A person can use this product on the body as well as the face.

The manufacturers claim that it is suitable for normal, dry, oily, and sensitive skin types.

Unlike the other products on this list, this is the only one that might also affect cellulite.

Pros

  • It is suitable for all skin types.
  • A person can apply this product to the body as well as the face.

Cons

  • The manufacturer does not state the strength of the retinol in the product.

How to use

Apply in the morning or as a physician directs.

A person can purchase Replenix All-Trans-Retinol Smoothing Body Lotion online here.

This vegetarian-based formula contains high grade retinol. It also contains several plant oils, niacinamide, and shea butter.

The manufacturer claims that this product can:

  • enhance the skin’s moisture
  • improve suppleness
  • support proteins in the skin
  • help reduce dry skin

Pros

  • It is suitable for vegetarians.
  • It includes natural, plant-based ingredients and no parabens.
  • It uses cruelty-free honey and beeswax.

Cons

  • Essential oils can be irritating to some skin types.
  • Rich butters may not work for oily or acne-prone skin.

How to use

For 2 weeks, use it every other night. A person can then increase the usage to every night.

The manufacturer suggests that a person uses sunscreen while using this product and for 1 week afterward.

A person may experience redness, a warm, tingling sensation, or flaking skin.

Also, avoid using this cream around the eyes.

A person can purchase Origins Plantscription Retinol Night Moisturizer with Alpine Flower online here.

Retinol does not change the skin overnight, so a person needs to use it for several weeks or months to see its benefits.

If a person notices redness, peeling, or discomfort while using a retinol cream, they may need to use it less often. If redness or irritation is severe or does not go away, a person should see a doctor.

Always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen of sun protection factor 30 or higher each day while using retinol creams. These products can make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

Using sunscreen can also help protect the skin from further damage and signs of aging.