10 Retinol-Based Products That Will Transform Your Skin

10 Retinol-Based Products That Will Transform Your Skin

There is no magic bullet for perfect skin. But retinol comes pretty close.

While it's true there is no magic bullet when it comes to perfecting skin, one ingredient comes pretty close: retinol. "Prescription Retin-A and Tretinoin and over the counter retinols increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen synthesis," explains Jennifer Chwalek, MD of Union Square Laser Dermatology. "With consistent use of a topical retinol or Retin-A you can see improvement of fine lines, dark spots, texture, and tone."


iS CLINICAL Pro Heal Serum Advance

iS CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+


A serum for spot treatment. Ideal for treating acne spots, redness, inflammation, and rosacea.

The product contains a number of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that target the issue and provide results.


While an OTC retinol (0.5%-2% concentration) isn't quite as effective or speedy as prescription-strength, it's less likely to cause irritation, redness, and peeling so better for anyone with sensitive or drier skin. But, proceed with caution. Dr. Shereene Idriss recommends adding retinol into your skin care routine slowly and gradually. "I would start with one night a week and see to see how your skin reacts before adding a second night a week and so forth," explains Dr. Idriss. "If you find yourself to be extremely sensitive, then apply your moisturizer before applying your retinol in order to make it a little bit less effective and less irritating."

First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate


If you’re new to the retinol world, this is the perfect starter serum.

Formulated for sensitive skin, the gentle product is packed with vitamin C and E, aloe, and colloidal oatmeal that alleviate the irritation and redness often associated with retinol products.

First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Retinol

There are also naturally derived retinol alternatives like rosehip seed oil, chicory root oligosaccharides, and tara tree gum, but Chwalek cautions that there are no studies to prove efficacy for them.

Ready to add retinol to your routine? Here are the latest options to stock up on.

Perricone MD OVM Serum


This retinol provokes no reaction even when slathered on the most irritable of complexions. How does that work, you say?

With eggshell membrane, obviously. No but really, it seems the layer between white and shell provides the requisite protective capabilities to shield sensitive skin from the harsh effects of retinol.


How to choose (and use) the best retinol face cream

  • Look for moisturizers:

    Because retinol can be drying, look for a cream that also includes moisturizing ingredients - such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and shea butter- to boost moisture and minimize irritation.

Start slow: When you first start using a retinol-based product, expect to have dry or scaly patches during the first one or two weeks, particularly around your eyes, nose, and mouth, says Dr. Sivendran. After that, your skin should adapt. Start by first applying a pea-sized amount every other night. Still too much? Drop back to every third night. Eventually, you can work up to nightly use once you know your complexion can handle it.

Natura Bisse Essential Shock Intense Retinol Fluid


This multi-tasker boosts the power of retinol with amino acids, soy protein, and mushroom and wheat germ extracts.

While the lightweight texture means it can be used as a treatment serum, those with oilier skin and lazier dispositions can just consider this tube their one-step anti-aging nighttime regimen.

natura bisse essential shock intense retinol fluid

Don’t forget SPF: Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to the sun, especially if you decide to use one during the day. If you don’t protect your face with sunscreen, you may be setting yourself up for more damage like burning or discoloration in the long run.

You should alwaysuse SPF during the day, even if you applied your retinol cream at night. (Find the best sunscreen for your face here.)

Seeing a dermatologist can also help you get on the right regimen for your skin care concerns

celestial black diamond retinol oil

111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil


Oils are still all the rage. And this uber luxe one from London-based surgeon Yannis Alexandrides, MD offers the nourishing effects associated with the category while delivering a potent dose of retinol via otherworldly sounding rare black diamond particles through space and time, just kidding it's going through layers of skin. It'll get you glowing for sure.

Kate Somerville DermalQuench Liquid Lift Retinol Advanced Resurfacing Treatment


First Los Angeles-based aesthetician Kate Somerville created a topical, at-home version of her celeb fave oxygen facial and it was pretty, pretty, pretty good.

But now she's taken it a step further and supercharged the formula with collagen-boosting retinol and bio-retinols to give you the glowing, taut, baby soft skin of your dreams.