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The 7 Best Retinol Creams and Serums For All Skin Types (2024)

You must have heard about retinol, a skincare essential, which can also be said as a one-stop solution for acne, fine lines, and aging. Below, we have listed some of the best retinol creams and serums for you.

The 7 Best Retinol Creams and Serums For All Skin Types (2024)

Our Top Picks

  • Best Overall: Neutrogena Retinol Face Moisturizer - With its powerful combination of retinol and hyaluronic acid, this anti-aging cream visibly reduces deep wrinkles, hydrates, and rejuvenates the skin, making it the best retinol cream for comprehensive skin improvement.

  • Best Retinol for Beginners: The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane - This high-strength retinol serum offers a gentle introduction to retinol with added squalane for hydration, promoting smoother skin without severe irritation.

  • Best for Sensitive Skin: Paula's Choice CLINICAL 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment - Formulated with bakuchiol and peptides, this lightweight serum provides potent anti-aging benefits while minimizing the risk of irritation, ideal for sensitive skin types.

  • Best Budget: CeraVe Anti Aging Retinol Serum - Affordable yet effective, this cream serum combines retinol, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides to smooth fine lines and brighten skin, providing excellent results at a budget-friendly price.

If there’s one ingredient that truly stands out as a multitasker in the skincare world, it’s retinol. Think of it as the superhero of skincare, tackling fine lines, wrinkles, hormonal acne, whiteheads, uneven skin texture, large pores, and even dark spots. Yes, you heard that right—retinol does it all!

But here’s the catch: as amazing as retinol is, it comes with a bit of a warning label. This form of vitamin A can sometimes cause irritation, leading to splotches, dry patches, peeling, and even a burning sensation. Sounds scary? Don’t worry, though—when used correctly, the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Whether you’re dealing with rosacea, keratosis pilaris, eczema, or fragrance allergies, there’s a retinol product out there for you. The key is to find the right one that suits your skin type and concerns. From creams to serums to drops, the options are endless.

These picks cater to all skin types and address various concerns, so you can reap the benefits without the nasty side effects. Keep scrolling to find the best retinol creams and serums that can help you achieve smoother, clearer, and more radiant skin.

Types of Retinol

  • Retinol: A commonly used form of vitamin A that helps improve skin texture, reduce wrinkles, and treat acne.

  • Retinyl Palmitate: A milder retinol derivative, ideal for sensitive skin or beginners, that converts to retinol in the skin.

  • Retinaldehyde: A potent form of retinol that works faster than retinol itself but is less irritating than prescription-strength retinoids.

  • Retinoic Acid: A prescription-strength retinoid known for its powerful anti-aging and acne-fighting benefits, but can be highly irritating.

  • Adapalene: A newer, over-the-counter retinoid that's effective for treating acne and less irritating than other prescription retinoids.

  • Retinyl Retinoate: A newer, innovative retinol derivative that combines retinol and retinoic acid, offering effective results with less irritation.

  • Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR): A gentle yet effective retinoid that binds directly to retinoid receptors, providing benefits without the typical irritation of retinol.

What to consider when looking for retinol cream or serum 

  • Skin Type: Determine if you have oily, dry, sensitive, or combination skin to choose a suitable formulation.

  • Concentration: Start with a lower concentration (0.25% to 0.5%) if you’re new to retinol, and gradually increase as your skin builds tolerance.

  • Formulation: Choose between cream or serum based on your skin type and preference. Serums are typically lighter and better for oily skin, while creams are more moisturizing and better for dry skin.

  • Additional Ingredients: Look for products with hydrating and soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and niacinamide to minimize irritation.

  • Fragrance-Free: Especially if you have sensitive skin, choose fragrance-free products to avoid potential irritation.

  • Patch Test: Always perform a patch test to check for any adverse reactions before applying it to your face.

  • Usage Instructions: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding frequency and application to avoid overuse and irritation.

  • Consult a Dermatologist: If unsure, consult with a dermatologist to get recommendations tailored to your specific skin needs and concerns.

How we chose them for you 

  • User Reviews and Feedback: We analyzed thousands of user reviews across various platforms to gauge real-world performance and satisfaction.

  • Brand Reputation: We selected products from reputable and trusted brands known for their commitment to skincare innovation and quality.

  • Formulation and Texture: We assessed the formulation and texture of each product to provide a variety of creams, serums, and other forms to suit individual preferences.

  • Packaging and Preservation: We also considered the packaging to ensure the retinol remains stable and effective over time, favouring airtight and opaque containers.

  • Value for Money: We chose products that offer the best value for their price, balancing cost with quality and effectiveness.

Here’s a comprehensive review of the best retinol creams and serums 

  1. Neutrogena Retinol Face Moisturizer


Neutrogena's Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Face Moisturizer is a trusted anti-aging cream recommended by dermatologists. It features a potent blend of retinol and hyaluronic acid to visibly smooth fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots, revealing younger-looking skin. This daily moisturiser deeply hydrates and refines skin texture within a week, suitable for all skin tones. Formulated without parabens, mineral oil, or dyes, it effectively reduces crow's feet and forehead wrinkles. Elevate your skincare regimen with this clinically proven formula from a leading retinol brand.


  • Price: $21

  • Brand: Neutrogena

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid

  • Size: 1.7 oz

  • Skin Type: All

  • Texture: Creamy, Non-greasy

  • Fragrance: Fragrance-free

  • Dermatologist-Tested: Yes

What we like 

What we don’t like

Hydrates deeply without greasiness

Results vary by individual

Smoothes fine lines effectively

Potential for dryness

Absorbs quickly into the skin

Suitable for sensitive skin

User’s Reviews: "I love this product! I'm in my early 30s and have been using this for about 4 years. Typically I can use it daily and pair my retinal with Neutrogena Hydro Boost. My skin looks flawless in the morning like I had eaten a bag of carrots the night before. It does give a slight tingle after rubbing in. I have very sensitive skin, and it took me some time to be able to use this daily. Which is why I've always used the Hydro boost line to compliment. Highly encouraged to use it on the neck in the morning and in the evenings for best results.”

Why it's worth buying: It's worth buying for its 4.4-star rating from over 47,000 reviewers. With 9,000 purchases last month on Amazon alone, it's a trusted choice for visible results.


Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer Cream is a fragrance-free, light yet hydrating formula that smooths fine lines, brightens dark spots, and enhances skin elasticity. With key ingredients like Retinol, Niacinamide, and a Retinoid Complex, it penetrates deep to improve skin texture and tone. Suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin, this moisturizer absorbs quickly and provides 24-hour hydration. Users report visible improvements in wrinkles and pores within 4 weeks. It’s crafted to remain effective throughout use, ensuring a smoother, more radiant complexion from the first application.


  • Price: $16.99 

  • Brand: Olay 

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol, Niacinamide

  • Skin Type: All types

  • Texture: Light, non-greasy

  • Fragrance: Fragrance-free

  • Size: 1.7 oz

  • Usage: Nighttime application

What we like 

What we don’t like

Smooths fine lines effectively

May cause initial dryness

Absorbs quickly into skin

Lightweight and non sticky 

User’s Reviews: "Oh my gosh this cream feels so good on my face. It makes it feel so soft, non greasy and unscented. I know it has to be great for my complexion and I was right. The look and feel of my skin has improved in just a week. It should last a long time because it only takes a little to cover my face.”

Why it's worth buying: With 4.5-star ratings on Amazon from over 4000+ reviewers, it proves effective in smoothing fine lines and hydrating skin, making it a worthwhile purchase for visible skincare improvements.


Kiehl's Daily Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Facial Serum combines Pure Retinol, Peptides, and Ceramides to effectively reduce wrinkles, firm skin, and even out skin tone. This lightweight serum absorbs quickly without causing redness or dryness, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It promotes gentle skin turnover, visibly diminishing wrinkles and pores while enhancing skin texture and clarity. Free from parabens, fragrances, mineral oils, and phthalates, it's formulated for daily use to achieve a youthful, radiant complexion with minimal irritation. Ideal for those seeking a potent yet gentle anti-aging treatment.


  • Price: $92.00

  • Brand: Kiehl

  • Active Ingredients: Pure Retinol, Peptides

  • Skin Type: All

  • Texture: Lightweight

  • Packaging: Recyclable

  • Size: 1.7 Fluid Ounces

  • Formulation: Fragrance-Free

What we like 

What we don’t like

Lightweight fast-absorbing texture

May feel heavy on the skin 

Visible anti-aging results without irritation


Promotes skin firmness and clarity

Effective for reducing wrinkles and fine lines

User’s Reviews: "Absolutely love this product! My first time using a retinol product and I could not be more pleased. Was struggling with consistent big, red breakouts but started to see improvements in my skin after just a few uses. If you have sensitive skin (like me) then I HIGHLY recommend only using a pea-size amount for the entire face, which is also recommended by dermatologists. Also, I only use it 3 times a week otherwise it dries out my face and makes my skin flaky. Ideal routine in the PM: double cleanse, tone, light layer of moisturiser, retinol, light layer of moisturiser.”

Why it's worth buying: It's worth buying for its good results and gentle formulation, supported by a high satisfaction rate with 69% rating it 5-star on Amazon.


CeraVe Anti Aging Retinol Serum is a gentle formula designed to smooth fine lines and brighten skin tone. Infused with Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Niacinamide, and Ceramides, it improves skin texture and retains moisture for a radiant complexion. The serum features a lightweight, non-greasy gel texture that absorbs quickly into sensitive skin. Developed with dermatologists, it includes 3 essential ceramides to restore the skin barrier and minimise irritation. Ideal for nighttime use due to retinol's sun sensitivity, this serum gradually delivers results without harsh effects, making it suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and aging skin.


  • Price: $21.49 

  • Brand: CeraVe

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid

  • Texture: Lightweight, gel-based

  • Skin Type: Sensitive

  • Use: Anti-aging

  • Formula: Fragrance-free

  • Size: 1 ounce

What we like 

What we don’t like

Contains beneficial ceramides

Results are slow and steady

Dermatologist-recommended for sensitive skin

Gradual retinol delivery minimises irritation

Improves skin tone and radiance

User’s Reviews: "After months of searching, I have finally found a budget-friendly and EFFECTIVE facial serum. I am only 29 but have recently developed deep frown lines between my eyebrows and some fine lines in my forehead as well as skin unevenness/redness. I have been using this product for a week and am already seeing a dramatic difference in my frown lines and in my skin's overall tone. My husband's dermatologist recommended this line to him years ago but we have only been using the face cleanser. I am so glad I made the decision to try this serum (I have been using Cerave night cream with it as well) and will certainly be a repeat buyer.”

Why it's worth buying: With a 4.5-star rating on Amazon from over 1200 reviewers, it's trusted for improving skin tone and texture without irritation.


No7 Pure Retinol Night Cream is a dermatologist-approved, fragrance-free formula that boosts collagen production and visibly transforms skin. Featuring pure retinol, hyaluronic acid, and collagen peptides, this anti-aging cream plumps, firms, and hydrates overnight. Enhanced with MATRIXYL 3000 PLUS™ and soothing bisabolol, it improves skin tone and texture, leaving a firmer, smoother complexion. Ideal for nightly use, this retinol cream revitalizes aging skin, delivering visible results for a more youthful appearance. Trusted since 1935, No7 combines innovation with skincare expertise, ensuring effective, affordable beauty solutions for women worldwide.


  • Price: $26.00

  • Brand: No7 

  • Active Ingredients: Pure Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid

  • Size: 1.69 fl oz

  • Texture: Creamy

  • Fragrance: Fragrance-Free

  • Use: Nighttime

What we like 

What we don’t like

Boosts collagen production effectively

Not recommended for daytime use

Visibly firms and plumps the skin

Texture of the cream is thick

Hydrates deeply overnight

Dermatologist-approved for safety and efficacy

User’s Reviews: "I have been using this product for several weeks and I already see an improvement in the wrinkles and the smoothness of my skin. The cream is very moisturizing and has improved the softness of my skin. I have not been using this for the recommended amount of time to see a vast improvement, but I have seen enough of an improvement that I will purchase this product again.”

Why it's worth buying: It's worth buying because it has received 73% 5-star ratings on Amazon, indicating high customer satisfaction. With 2,000 purchases last month alone, its popularity underscores its effective results and trust among users.


Paula's Choice CLINICAL 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment is a potent serum that's free from fragrance and parabens, specially formulated to diminish deep wrinkles and fine lines. It blends retinol, bakuchiol extract, peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, vitamin C, and ceramides to boost collagen production, promoting a youthful, radiant complexion. Suitable for all skin types, including oily, combination, and dry, it refines skin texture, evens tone, and reduces hyperpigmentation. Backed by positive feedback from user trials, it enhances skin elasticity and effectively addresses advanced signs of aging. Additionally, it's thoughtfully packaged with eco-conscious consumers in mind.


  • Price: $65.00

  • Brand; Paula's Choice

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol, Bakuchiol

  • Skin Types: All

  • Texture: Lightweight lotion

  • Size: 1 ounce

  • Benefits: Anti-aging treatment

What we like 

What we don’t like

Lightweight and absorbs quickly

May cause initial sensitivity

Contains potent anti-aging ingredients

Requires consistent nightly use for best results

Improves elasticity visibly

Targets deep wrinkles effectively

User’s Reviews: "I’ve tried retinols and didn’t work out well for me. Heard good things about bakuchiol and decided to try it. It’s really gentle, didn’t have bad reactions but i’m starting really slowly. Days I known i’m going to the beach I’ll skip it, just to be cautious. Overall I like it. I have less congestion and my skin is super soft and gives a nice glow in the morning.”

Why it's worth buying: Worth buying for its effective blend of retinol and bakuchiol, suitable for all skin types, with proven results highlighted by a 4.6-star rating on Amazon.

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  1. The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane 30ml


The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane is a potent, water-free serum formulated to diminish fine lines and improve skin texture. With 1% retinol, it targets signs of aging by enhancing collagen production and smoothing skin tone. Squalane provides lightweight hydration while rosemary soothes, making it suitable for all skin types. This fast-absorbing formula gradually increases retinol strength, recommended for treating dryness and uneven skin tone. Ideal for incorporating into a skincare regimen to combat signs of aging effectively and maintain skin health.


  • Price: $14

  • Brand: The Ordinary

  • Active Ingredients: Retinol, Squalane

  • Skin Type: All

  • Product Benefits: Fine lines

  • Format: Anhydrous serum

  • Size: 30ml

What we like 

What we don’t like

Includes soothing rosemary

Requires sunscreen during daytime use

Hydrates with squalane

Not suitable for sensitive skin types

Affordable and accessible

User’s Reviews: "My pores shrunk within a couple of days of using this, my skin is much softer, I’ve tried a lot to shrink my pores and make my skin look healthy and so far this is the only thing that has worked. I can’t explain the scent to you, it’s not horrible, but it doesn’t smell like cupcakes. It’s also very oily, but I think it’s because you only need a couple of drops but if you can get past that, this stuff is AMAZING.”

Why it's worth buying: With 10,000+ purchases last month on Amazon, it's a popular choice for its proven results and accessibility.

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When and how to use Retinol cream or serum for optimal results?

  • Start with clean, dry skin in the evening. Retinol can increase sensitivity to sunlight, so nighttime application is recommended.

  • Begin with a pea-sized amount for the entire face to minimise potential irritation.

  • Dot the retinol cream or serum across your forehead, cheeks, nose, and chin.

  • Gently massage the product into the skin using upward motions until fully absorbed.

  • Avoid the eye area unless the product is specifically designed for use around the eyes.

  • Allow the retinol to work overnight without applying other products on top to maximise its effectiveness.

  • Start with application every other night to assess tolerance, then gradually increase to nightly use as your skin adjusts.

  • Always follow with a moisturiser to hydrate and nourish the skin.

  • In the morning, apply sunscreen SPF 30 or higher to protect your skin from UV damage, as retinol can increase sun sensitivity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can retinol be used with other skincare ingredients? 

  • Yes, but it's important to introduce new products slowly to gauge compatibility and minimise skin irritation. Avoid combining retinol with harsh exfoliants or other potent active ingredients initially.

How long does it take to see results from using retinol? 

  • Visible results from retinol can vary, but improvements in skin texture and reduction in fine lines may start to appear within 4 to 12 weeks of consistent use.

Can retinol cause skin irritation or dryness? 

  • Yes, especially when starting retinol or using high concentrations. Begin with a lower strength and gradually increase frequency to allow skin to adjust and minimise irritation.

Is it safe to use retinol during pregnancy or breastfeeding? 

  • It's generally advised to avoid using retinol during pregnancy or breastfeeding due to its potential effects on fetal development. Consult with a healthcare professional for guidance.

What should I do if I experience excessive irritation from retinol? 

  • If irritation occurs, reduce frequency of use or temporarily discontinue until skin recovers. Consider using a moisturiser or buffering retinol with a hydrating serum to mitigate dryness.

In Conclusion 

Retinol creams and serums are widely recognized for their effectiveness in addressing various skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone as we read above. Their ability to promote cell turnover and collagen production makes them a staple in many skincare routines aiming for youthful and radiant skin. Choosing from a recommended list ensures access to formulations that cater to different skin types and sensitivities, offering the potential for visible improvements with consistent use. Investing in these products can lead to smoother, firmer skin over time, enhancing overall skin health and appearance without the need for invasive treatments.

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*The product prices mentioned in the article are subject to change