For those who’ve tried all of it—evening cream, anti-aging moisturizer, and face serum—but you are still showing indicators of growing old, do not simply slap on a heavy-duty basis and name it a day. As a substitute, it is likely to be time for the gold standard in anti-aging: Retinol. The over-the-counter vitamin A derivative clears pimples flare-ups, evens out Skin tone and texture, stimulates collagen, and minimizes age spots and wrinkles. “Retinol is the one medication that has scientifically-proven anti-aging properties,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles.
Whereas retinol is extremely efficient, it does have its drawbacks (especially that it can trigger irritation and could be dear), so it is important to notice two key things. First, you can find retinol in a variety of products—from oils and peels to lotions and serums—but when you’re a newbie, you must persist with the latter. Now, that might make you surprise: Is retinol cream or serum higher? In the end, it is a matter of private choice, but in order for you probably the most bang in your buck, stick to serums as they tend to be more potent. That said, as a result of serums include higher concentrations of retinol, there could be a better chance for redness, peeling, and dryness (especially if they’re paired with other powerful substances, like vitamin C). To scale back the danger of irritation, it is best to make use of a low share—like 0.025 %—and ramp up as your Skin adjusts, says Dr. Sonia Batra.
So, which retinol serum is one of the best? To help you navigate all of the choices available, we requested dermatologists to share the retinol serums—for shiny or delicate Skin, pimples, dark spots, and, of course, wrinkles—they usually recommend.
This retinol serum helps build collagen, which diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, smoothes the skin, and hydrates all at the same time, says Anna Guanche, a board-certified dermatologist at the Bella Skin Institute. This product is great for beginners, too, since it has a smaller concentration of retinol. Once your skin adjusts to your new regimen, opt for the brand’s more powerful formula.
Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with Pure Retinol
This lightweight serum contains pure retinol—the most potent form of retinol—and moisturizing ingredients to visibly reduce wrinkles (even the deep ones). Skincare expert Dr. Rocio Rivera, PhD, VP of scientific communications at L’Oréal Paris, suggests using pure retinol because it works faster on skin than retinol derivatives.
Ferulic Acid + Retinol Brightening Solution
This multipurpose product contains a number of anti-aging ingredients that work together to minimize the appearance of fine lines, skin discoloration, and stimulate new collagen growth over time, says Shainhouse. Hyaluronic acid hydrates, ferrulic acid helps reduce free radical damage, alpha-hydroxyacids gently exfoliate, and retinol stimulates new collagen growth.
Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Facial Filler
This potent serum has it all: retinol, vitamins A, C, and E, and hyaluronic acid. “It’s a great product if your skin is on the oily end of the spectrum,” says Rita Linkner, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC. “It’s a solid anti-aging product that will combat fine lines and wrinkles, thanks to the hyaluronic acid which helps the other vitamins hit deeper layers in the skin where they can make the most impactful changes to how your face looks and feels.”
The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane
A very affordable retinol serum that addresses a broad range of skin concerns, from fine lines and wrinkles to acne and dark spots, says Dr. Shari Sperling, a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey.
Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate
It contains peptides, which, combined with retinol, treats fine lines and wrinkles, as well as smoothes skin, says Sonia Batra, a board-certified dermatologist and co-host of The Doctors. It also has skin-soothing ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, aloe, colloidal oatmeal, and ceramides, to simultaneously calm irritation and hydrate.
Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Serum
“Retinols can be quite irritating, particularly to sensitive or dryer skin types,” says Shainhouse. “This is a great, mild retinol product that helps bring new skin cells to the surface, while encouraging new collagen growth overtime.” To minimize irritation, Shainhouse recommends applying a thin layer two nights per week, and slowly increasing frequency as tolerated.
Though one of the more affordable products available, this serum offers clinical grade retinol to help boost healthy skin cell turnover, says Kristin M. Baird, a board-certified dermatologist in Colorado. Still, it’s gentler on sensitive skin than other formulas, because all active ingredients are naturally derived and it doesn’t contain added perfumes. Bonus: It leaves behind a delicious citrus-vanilla scent.
1% Retinol Treatment
Struggling with acne? This blemish-busting treatment will hit the spot: Retinol helps slough off dead skin cells (preventing pores from getting clogged) and decreases oil production; vitamin C reduces the appearance of dark spots and acne scars; and licorice and oat extracts soothe irritation and inflammation.
Ageless Intensives Anti-Wrinkle Cream
This product is a dermatologist favorite, because it’s lightweight and effective, but it’s also readily available and affordable, says Erum Ilyas, a board-certified dermatologist in Philadelphia. It’s a great pick for anyone with dry skin, too—although most retinols tend to be drying, this one glides on smooth and leaves skin feeling hydrated.
Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum
A preservative-free retinol formula, it comes in single-use capsules that take the guesswork out of application and make travel a breeze. It also contains ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier and alleviate any irritation that retinol can traditionally cause, says Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in NYC.
Age Defense Retinol Complex
If you’re committed to using retinol serum for the foreseeable future, Jeffrey Fromowitz, a board-certified dermatologist in Florida, recommends SkinMedica’s line. It’s suitable for all skin types and is available in three strengths of retinol, so you can progress to stronger concentrations as your skin adjusts to the product, he says.
Adapalene Gel 0.1%
This once prescription-only topical retinoid is one of the best over-the-counter treatments for treating oily and acne-prone skin, says Dr. Howard Sobel.
Eau Thermale Avene Retrinal Eyes Contour Care, 0.5 Fl Oz
If you’re looking for a targeted eye treatment, try this cream. It contains retinaldehyde to diminish puffiness and reduce fine lines and wrinkles, like crow’s feet, says Dr. Manish Shah, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Denver. As an added bonus, it also contains hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth.
Intensive Clarity Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol Night
For a prescription-strength retinol serum that won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin, try this night cream, says Mona Gohara, a board-certified dermatologist in Connecticut. It contains only naturally-derived ingredients to nourish and hydrate skin without irritation. “I can only use most retinol products two times a week, but I can get this formula on five to six times a week,” says Gohara.
This cream contains 1 percent retinol, alpha-arbutin, elemental sulfur, and a blend of natural brightening extracts to provide a broad spectrum approach to brightening skin, says Craig Kraffert, a board-certified dermatologist in California. It’s very light, making it easy to use under sunscreen or makeup, too.