The 31 Most Raved-About Retinols and Why You Should Be Using Them
There's a reason that retinol is the buzziest ingredient in skincare. The powerhouse anti-aging ingredient is key for addressing various skin concerns, from wrinkles, uneven texture, and breakouts, to hyper-pigmentation. According to celebrity dermatologist Harold Lancer, "If you're maintaining a skincare program that doesn't include a retinol, there's something wrong with the program." (One caveat, though: If you're breastfeeding or pregnant you should check with your doctor before use.) To steer you in the right direction, here are the most raved-about retinols out there. Used at night unless otherwise specified, these gems yield baby-soft skin by morning.
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion ($10): The trendiest retinol of them all is safe for sensitive skin, counts Kim Kardashian West among its fans, and is so popular that Sephora can barely keep it stocked.
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil ($105): The blue-hued, tansy-oil based blend has stolen the hearts of beauty editors across the globe. It's clinically proven to improve skin radiance, fine lines, and smoothness, and is cruelty-free to boot.
Lancer Skincare Younger Pure Youth Serum with Mimixyl ($275): "As an anti-aging, beautification product, one might begin using a retinol starting in his/her late teens (early teens if you're targeting acne concerns)," says Lancer.
Goldfaden MD Wake Up Call ($85): This physician-formulated treatment is ideal for normal to dry skin, with vitamin E and avocado and grapeseed oils delivering mega hydration. It works like magic overnight so you'll wake up with a softer, smoother face.
Joanna Vargas Super Nova Serum ($295): "I think retinols are important, but the skin needs a lot of nourishment and to be calm in order to balance out the dryness and sensitivity that can occur," says celebrity facialist Joanna Vargas. Retinol serum Super Nova did the trick for countless Hollywood stars before the Oscars this year.
Asarai Sleepercell Retinol Serum ($45): Meet the Aussie skincare newcomer that corrects scarring, uneven skin tone, and signs of aging with this 99 percent natural formula.
Verso Skincare Day Cream ($100): Holy game-changer! Verso created a patented daytime-safe formulation called Retinol 8. It's sensitive skin-friendly and is eight times as effective as traditional retinol.
Renée Rouleau Advanced Resurfacing Serum ($85): "When I developed my retinol product, the focus was on the delivery system and the stability, since retinol is notorious for losing stability if not properly formulated [an unstable retinol means an ineffective formula]," says celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau. "We use a stable liposomal form of retinol."
Resurface by Shani Darden Retinol Reform ($95): This bad boy by the celebrity facialist has been hailed as one of the industry's best. Less irritating than other products on the market, it works to make skin smoother, healthier, and more refined.
Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Peel ($88): Pre-soaked peel pads are perfect for travel, and these in particular are ace at retexturizing struggling skin.
Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil ($48): The OG luxury green skincare line has a much-loved anti-aging facial oil in its ranks. Natural skincare fans should def give it a try.
Biossance Squalane + Photo-Retinol Serum ($78): A plant-derived form of retinol fuels the natural beauty line's squalene oil-based blend with miraculous results — reduced lines and wrinkles and an evened-out skin tone, to name a few.
Marie Veronique Gentle Retinol Night Serum ($110): The entire clean beauty line is devoted to protecting your natural skin barrier, making this green, gentle formulation a fabulous find for those with sensitive skin.
First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum ($58): Designed for those with sensitive skin and beginner users, this option is great if you haven't used retinol before and want to give it a try.
Envy Medical Trifecting Night Cream 1.0 ($95): This ah-mazing retinol night cream is jam-packed with free radical-fighting antioxidants and contains skin-promoting ceramides that prevent over-exfoliation.
Beekman 1802 Apricot & Honey Tea Face Wipes ($7): Remove makeup, cleanse and moisturize your skin, and receive the anti-aging benefits of retinol all at once with this multi-tasking customer favorite.
Skincare LdeL Cosmetics Retinol Anti-Aging Cream Cleanser ($16): What's not to love about a drugstore buy that leaves your skin cleansed and reduces wrinkles and hyper-pigmentation?
Bioelements Sleepwear ($69): The encapsulated retinol in this cult-favorite ensures time-released delivery overnight — so you'll wake up with a more rested and youthful-looking complexion.
Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinoid Night Oil ($99): This grapeseed oil-based retinoid with a cult following is on sale RN. *Adds to cart*
Dermalogica Multivitamin Hand and Nail Treatment ($28): If your hands are beginning to show signs of aging, invest in this trusty treatment STAT.
iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance Plus ($148): Retinol is bomb for spot-treating breakouts, but that's not all. This skin-healing potion cures everything from bug bites to scars.
Omorovicza Gold Eye Lift ($185): The luxe line from Hungary (think: a high-end Peter Thomas Roth) turned their award-winning serum into a next-level eye-cream. It diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, brightens skin tone, *and* helps to reduce sun damage.
Patchology FlashPatch Night Restoring Eye Gels ($20 for five): Retinol-infused hydrogel eye-patches that work in five minutes? Yes, please.
No 7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum ($25): This Brit-chick-preferred drugstore retinol serum with a proven track record for reducing wrinkles will be a welcome addition to your skincare regimen.
Do you use a retinol product in your skincare routine? Let us know which one @BritandCo!
Brit + Co may at times use affiliate links to promote products sold by others, but always offers genuine editorial recommendations.