Find the best retinol serum for your skin type, skin condition, and budget! Overall, my top recommendation is La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum.
Everyone wants radiant and young-looking skin, and retinol is touted as one of the best ingredients to help achieve that. It accelerates the rate of cell turnover, softens fine lines and wrinkles, improves uneven texture, and minimizes age spots! (Harvard Health)
Any vitamin A serum would give your skin these benefits but given the variations in potency of pure retinol, you need one that works specifically for your skin type.
So what’s the best retinol serum for you? Read on to find out!
Here are my top recommendations:
✅ Fine Lines
✅ Sun Damage
✅ Skin Texture
⭐ 2 Types of Retinol
⭐ Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
⭐ Hyaluronic Acid
⭐ Thermal Spring Water
👍 2.2K+ Reviews
👍 79% 5-Stars
👍 1 oz Size
👍 Suitable for Sensitive Skin
Get the benefits of retinol without the irritation with La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum!
This serum contains two types of retinol: pure retinol and gradual release retinol.
Pure retinol gives your skin all the brightening and anti-aging benefits in one go while the gradual release retinol uses microencapsulation technology to release the contents to your skin over several hours.
Given that retinol is known to be potent and possibly irritating to the skin, La Roche-Posay uses other ingredients to balance it out:
The formulation has also been allergy tested and is non-comedogenic, paraben-free, and oil-free. Hence, we have an effective retinol serum suitable even for sensitive skin!
Attesting to this are 2,300 reviews on Amazon with 80% 5-stars, a truly exceptional rating in the skincare space. Many users stated that the product helped in reducing the appearance of age spots, fine lines and wrinkles and some even mentioned how it cleared their pore congestion and acne.
But do note that it contains fragrance. If this is your first retinol serum, you’ll want to start using it every other day and then build up from there.
Our Verdict: A bit pricey at $40/oz, but all it takes is 3-4 drops of La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum in the evening and you can experience brighter, smoother, younger-looking skin! Just remember to use SPF sunscreen during the daytime.Shop Now
✅ Age Spots
⭐ 1.5% Microencapsulated Retinol
⭐ Vitamin C
⭐ Vitamin E
👍 1K+ Reviews
👍 71% 5-Stars
👍 Not Alcohol-Free
When you work all day, it helps to have a retinol serum that would work on your skin all night long like Peter Thomas Roth PM Night Serum!
It uses 1.5% encapsulated retinol which is excellent for minimizing fine lines and wrinkles, enhancing radiance and skin tone, and reducing redness and imperfections.
Because this ingredient works by basically drip-feeding retinol to your skin, you can experience the power of retinol with less risk of inflammation.
The night serum also employs vitamin C to brighten age spots and treat UV damage, and vitamin E to improve skin texture and maintain the skin’s oil balance.
Pairing together these vitamins makes them even more effective as they boost each other’s antioxidant performance (Good Housekeeping).
Then there’s squalane for moisturizing and reducing redness plus bisabolol for its soothing and anti-aging properties. The entire ingredient mix makes this product great for mature skin types. It can even be used to improve dark circles!
The clincher is that it costs $65/oz. Still, it has over 1,000 reviews and 70% 5-stars on Amazon, so perhaps it’s worth the price.
Just make sure that you’re not buying a fake and remember to give your skin time to adjust. It absorbs quickly and is lightweight on the skin, so you can immediately follow up with a night cream.
Our Verdict: Gently exfoliate your skin with the Peter Thomas Roth PM Night Serum and its 1.5% encapsulated retinol, vitamin A, and vitamin C mix.Shop Now
✅ Post-Acne Marks
✅ Enlarged Pores
✅ Skin Texture
⭐ Encapsulated Retinol
⭐ 3 Essential Ceramides
⭐ Licorice Root
👍 24K+ Reviews
👍 75% 5-Stars
With the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum, baby smooth skin is no longer a far-fetched dream!
A mix of plumping, hydrating, and non-irritating ingredients prove to make this serum a hit, including:
Over 24K+ reviews and 75% 5-stars prove how impressive it is as users share how it cleared up their acne while still addressing dark spots and wrinkles. Some even mentioned that it helped with stretch marks!
We have a multi-tasker on our hands, and it’s fragrance-free, paraben-free, and non-comedogenic. Of course, it also helps that this CeraVe product sells for less than $20/oz.
Our Verdict: Get rid of acne blemishes, wrinkles, and imperfections using the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum and its non-drying formula with added ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The % of retinol is not disclosed which implies that it's on the lower end, but this makes it great for particularly sensitive skin and beginners to retinol.Shop Now
✅ Fine Lines
✅ Aging Skin
✅ Rough Texture
⭐ Emollient Oils
👍 1.7K+ Reviews
👍 74% 5-Stars
👍 30 Capsules
👍 Biodegradable Capsules
The older we get, the more important it becomes to take our vitamins and capsules. In this case, we’re talking about the Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum!
The thing about retinol is that constant exposure to light and air can make it less effective which is why Elizabeth Arden opted to produce this night serum using capsules, to help keep the product fresh and beneficial.
The formulation includes:
The product has 1,700 reviews and 75% 5-stars on Amazon and users with sensitive skin say that it made their skin soft and smooth with minimal irritation. At $55 for 30 capsules, it costs less than a comparative brand’s 1 oz. retinol serum and as a plus, the capsules are even biodegradable!
One capsule per use should suffice but you may need more if you’re also applying it to your neck.
Our Verdict: Leave your skin feeling and looking young with the Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum using retinol, ceramides, peptides, and emollient oils!
Pro Tip: Take your skincare routine to the next level and use the brand’s highly moisturizing 8 Hour Cream after applying the serum.Shop Now
✅ Visible Radiance
✅ Uneven Skin Texture
✅ Wrinkles & Fine Lines
⭐ Vitamin E
⭐ Vitamin C
⭐ Zinc Gluconate
⭐ Copper Gluconate
👍 11K+ Reviews
👍 70% 5-Stars
👍 Budget Friendly
At less than $20/oz, the RoC Skincare Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum provides award-winning anti-aging solutions without burning through your wallet!
The company has established itself as a reputable brand since 1957 and it continues to revolutionize skincare to this day as this retinol serum was awarded the best facial serum during the 2019 Allure Best of Beauty Awards.
It contains a mix of:
According to RoC, the antioxidants (vitamin E, vitamin C) and chelating agents (zinc gluconate and copper gluconate) help prevent retinol degradation. A company study further shows that after 8 weeks, 97% of users had an overall improvement in photodamage and 100% noticed visibly radiant, younger-looking skin.
However, it is worth noting that the % of retinol in this product is not disclosed.
With over 12,000 reviews and 70% 5-stars on Amazon, we can say that this serum has been tried and tested. Just don’t forget to apply a hydrating night cream afterward to avoid drying out your skin.
Our Verdict: The RoC Skincare Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum uses retinol, antioxidants, and chelating agents to provide maximum anti-aging effects at a minimal price. It’s an excellent budget option for beginners to retinol and fans of the RoC skincare line.Shop Now
✅ Professional Quality
✅ Maintain Cosmetic Procedure Results
⭐ 0.5% Retinol
⭐ PhytoShield Complex
👍 2K+ Reviews
👍 84% 5-Stars!
👍 Highly Potent
With over 2,000 reviews and 85% 5-stars, dermatologist grade SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 is the highest rated retinol serum on our list and for good reason!
This product contains 0.5% retinol, which is considered high strength (Paula’s Choice). This makes it excellent for addressing fine lines, deep wrinkles, and uneven texture.
What’s great about this serum is that despite the higher concentration, it has been formulated to work even for sensitive skin types. It uses PhytoShield Complex (an antioxidant complex) to improve the skin barrier and minimize irritation.
It also employs a number of soothing ingredients such as:
SkinMedica’s retinol serum comes in at over $70/oz but we can say that it’s well worth it. All the negative reviews on Amazon were written 4-5 years ago and are directed towards knock-offs. To avoid this, we suggest that you check the seller before buying - look for sold by Amazon or Skinmedica.
Meanwhile, those who left positive reviews speak of how it made a noticeable difference on their mature skin.
Our Verdict: Get the highest rated retinol serum with SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.5 and its hydrating, anti-aging formulation! If you’re looking for another top-reviewed product to consider, check out Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum.Shop Now
✅ Fine Lines
✅ Crow's Feet
✅ Age Spots
⭐ 3 Types of Retinol
⭐ Swertia Flower Extract
⭐ Hyaluronic Acid
👍 500+ Reviews
👍 77% 5-Stars
👍 Not Fragrance-Free
The Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Serum may be the closest you can get to finding the fountain of youth.
Murad utilizes Retinol Tri-Active Technology which combines three types of retinol:
All of these work to address fine lines and wrinkles, crow’s feet, age spots, and dull skin. Then there are ceramides to improve skin texture, hyaluronic acid to hydrate the skin, urea to boost barrier function, and swertia flower extract to brighten and soothe skin.
A company study showed that after two weeks, 93% of users noticed a reduction in lines and wrinkles, 98% saw smoother skin, and 85% saw more radiant skin. 500 reviews and 77% 5-stars on Amazon also reflect that this retinol serum is great for all skin types and can be used for both preventative and corrective purposes.
You may have to work your way up to nightly use, but a user has found it so gentle that she even uses it during the day. Just make sure not to overdo it and to use the serum under moisturizer and sunscreen.
Our Verdict: At $90/oz, the Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Serum is the most expensive among all retinol products on this list, but it’s worth including in your skin care regimen. Its formulation of Retinol Tri-Active Technology and hydrating ingredients leads to firmer, smoother, and brighter skin with minimal irritation!Shop Now