You’re probably familiar with retinol. Everybody’s talking about it, from derms to your friends, especially if you’re over 25. The topical use of retinol was proven to have anti-aging effects; this clinical study confirms it. And all skin experts agree: topical retinol remains to be the gold standard in anti-aging. With over 40 years of research, retinol is proven to refine and smooth the skin’s surface, improve uneven skin tone, and reduce wrinkles’ appearance. “Retinol is the only medication that has scientifically proven anti-aging properties,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist in Los Angeles for oprahmag.com.
What is retinol, and how does it work?
Retinols are a type of retinoids, a class of vitamin A derivatives. Even if born of the same vitamin, retinol works differently than other retinoids, such as tretinoin — which, BTW, if you use, these are the best moisturizers to pair with it. Retinol has weaker effects because it needs to be converted by enzymes into the active form of vitamin A, which actually improves the skin. Retinol is found in over-the-counter (OTC) products, like creams and serums. On the other side, tretinoin is a prescripted retinoid and does not need to be converted because it is already the active form of vitamin A.
However, retinol is still highly effective, even if the results take longer to appear, and they’re not as stark.
In case you wonder, starting using retinol in your mid to late 20s is just fine. Preventing is better than curring. You need a serum formula because the active ingredients in it penetrate your skin faster and more effectively. So, the greater the chances to defend against collagen degradation, increase hydration, and protect the skin against photoaging.
How do I choose my retinol serum?
You’ll find retinol in different strengths. If you’re a first-timer, you would be using a low percentage of retinol, somewhere around 0.3%. The same goes if your skin is sensitive. If you’re already used to topical retinol, you can go for stronger formulas. However, it’s always a good idea to test a product on a skin patch before applying it to your face.
When to use retinol serum
The best time to apply your retinol serum is at night, as retinol makes your skin photosensitive. Use it one-two times a week, to begin with, to see how your skin reacts and gradually work up to once every other day.
After you’ve cleansed your face wait a few minutes until your skin is completely dry. If the skin is damp, the retinol will be able to go deeper into the skin and might cause irritation, so that’s important.
You can usually apply serums and moisturizers to damp skin, but never retinol. After having layered the retinol serum on your skin, follow up with your night moisturizer.
Avoid mixing it with many skincare products — see here what retinol works with and what doesn’t go with it. And because it makes the skin sensitive to the sun, in the morning, apply sunscreen. Without further ado, here, the best retinol serums for your anti-aging regimen.
The best retinol serums for anti-aging
Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
Combining retinol, hyaluronic acid, tomato extract, ceramide, amino acids, squalane, shea butter, and many other skin-loving ingredients, this serum plumps the skin, fights aging signs, and improves UV damage for a glowing and healthy complexion. Actually, Murad Resurgence Serum is made with an in-house Tri active technology — a fast-acting retinoid mixed with time-release retinol (aka encapsulated retinol), and a retinol booster for powerful effects, yet acting gently on the skin without causing irritations.
Sunday Riley A High-Dose Retinoid Serum
Of all, this is my favorite. It combines a retinoid blend with blue-green algae with retinoid activity, making up to 6.5% retinoid. Plus, the addition of CoQ10, cactus, bisabolol, ginger and white honey give it moisturizing effects to smooth and even out the skin even more. It works great for all skin types, and it goes on like a dream with its lightweight texture. Anyway, if you’re a retinol first-timer, you better reconsider this option.
Tree Of Life Serum with Retinol
Tree Of Life combined some of the most beneficial ingredients in one serum. Retinol with botanical hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, witch hazel, jojoba oil, and green tea to help counter the effects of aging. And if it didn’t work, it wouldn’t be so much appreciated — it’s got five stars out of 13,000 reviews. 72% organic and 98% natural, this serum is suitable for all skin types; your face will feel moisturized and refreshed over time as you use it.
Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum
OK, organic skincare lovers, this one is for you. Made integrally with plant-derived retinol alternative (Bakuchiol), plant-derived squalane, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide, it targets fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage signs. It aids in locking in moisture, making your skin glow healthily with each application. Definitely a go-to for a vegan, cruelty-free, and recyclable packaging alternative.
Eva Naturals Vitamin C + Retinol Serum Plus
Loaded with many antioxidants and infused with a mix of retinol and niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, salicylic acid, MSM, and vitamin C, Eva Naturals serum won’t fail you. While it helps protect against UV rays, it provides high hydration, cleanses the pores, and fights blemishes — all in one serum! If it’s hard to believe, browse through its buyers’ reviews, and convince yourself.
The Ordinary Retinol Serum
With 1% of pure retinol, this one has the power to reduce the appearance of fine lines, photodamage, and general skin aging signs. All the ingredients in this product, such as tomato fruit extract, rosemary leaf extract, and jojoba oil, work to rejuvenate your skin. The Ordinary serum may cause irritation, redness, and peeling in the first few weeks of use until the skin builds tolerance. If you can assume this side effect, this is the serum you want to try.
StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten Serum
From the luxury range, StriVectin brings a formula meant to brighten and correct. The brightening power of vitamin C and the correcting impact of retinol join forces in one lightweight serum. What makes it even better is that NIA-114 amplifies it (the brands’ proprietary form of Niacin), strengthening the skin barrier for a glowing complexion.
InstaNatural Retinol Serum
Not very popular, yet a product that is highly appreciated. With 2.5% retinol and the addition of niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, green tea, ginger, and other naturally-derived ingredients, InstaNatural Store managed to create a great serum with anti-aging effects! It increases hydration to plump the skin’s look, minimizing fine lines, and reducing the appearance of enlarged pores while soothing your skin to improve its overall texture.
Retinol Store Anti-Wrinkle Facial Serum
Exfoliate, improve, and moisturize — this is what you get with Retinol Store’s serum. Formulated with one of the highest vitamin A levels (500,000 I.U.’s), green tea, and beta-carotene, it visibly improves the skin’s elasticity and tone while minimizing fine lines’ appearance to make your face smooth and even.
Yeouth Retinol Serum with Hyaluronic Acid
There is a reason people are so happy about this serum. Hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, vitamin E, and retinol, all in a tiny bottle to support you fight aging signs. Help your skin preserve its elasticity and firmness with this serum’s moisture retention properties. Due to this, fine lines and wrinkles appear less visible, and skin is smooth and hydrated.
Baebody Retinol Topical Facial Serum
This lightweight yet intensive retinol serum absorbs quickly into the skin, improving the look of wrinkles, fine lines, discoloration, and hyperpigmentation. Packed with vitamin E, jojoba oil, and green tea, it keeps your skin calm and protected while it improves skin color and boosts collagen production every time you apply it.
InstaSkincare Retinol Serum for Face
On the affordable side is this serum, made with retinol, hyaluronic acid, and aloe vera juice, that helps you keep signs of aging at bay. Besides, it reduces hyperpigmentation and is gentle to acne-prone skin, pushing oils and dead skin out of clogged pores, preventing new blackheads and whiteheads from forming.