Top 10 Best Retinol Creams for Beginners

best retinol creams for face

I believe that most people are still not sure about retinol products and what exactly are they and where to begin, which is why we’re going to start with the basics: we’re going to talk about the best retinol cream for beginners.

After all,

Retinol is highly praised for its ability to prevent the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. And that’s just one of its many benefits.

The promise of perfect skin is dangling in front of our faces.

I don’t actually believe in perfect skin but this one is indeed an ingredient that you might consider trying out if you want a collagen-boosting ingredient.

What do I mean when I say retinol creams and serums for beginners?

It simply means that these products would be a great starting point for women who are considering including a retinol skin care product in their routine.

By reviewing a few very good retinol creams for beginners, we’ll be answering some very important questions.

Questions like:

  • what exactly is retinol – there are two categories of people who want to see if retinol works for them: those who want to win the fight against wrinkles for as long as they can and those who are in a fight against acne – but it’s mostly sought after by people who want to postpone the appearance of wrinkles and to smooth out some of the existing ones
  • how good is it, do the results match the hype
  • should you use it, does your skin need it
  • is your skin type suitable for retinol creams and serums – I just want to briefly mention that people with sensitive skin have founded reasons to be wary and they might consider giving bakuchiol a try first, I’ll talk more on this subject further down this post

We have a lot to talk about. I hope I won’t be losing you along the way.

What Is Retinol?

There are a few words to sum up the answer the question what is retinol.

Retinol is:

  • a powerful antioxidant
  • a skin-restoring ingredient
  • according to Paula’s Choice, it’s not an exfoliant and I happen to agree (it promotes the creation of new skin cells, it doesn’t shed off dead skin cells)

When I was a lot younger, I kept hearing about vitamin E and CoQ10 but I don’t remember hearing much about vitamin A.

Nowadays,

Everyone’s talking about retinol. It’s pretty clear why.

In the past, a retinoid product could only be obtained through a dermatologist’s prescription. Or by paying a lot of money on high-end skin care products.

Now,

We’ve reached the stage where we’re inundated with over-the-counter creams and serums that contain vitamain A derivatives in varying concentrations.

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A, which is why is also called a retinoid.

Let’s talk about vitamin A to better understand what the fuss is all about.

The active form of vitamin A is called retinoic acid or Retin-A (tretinoin), which is stronger than retinol, and can be absorbed directly into the skin.

Initially, it has been used by dermatologists to treat acne. They prescribe stronger forms, like tretinoin and isotretinoin (Accutane).

What about retinol? Where does it fit in all this?

Retinol might not be as strong as Retin-A but that just means that it will take longer to work.

You have to be patient for the results because it does work in time.

It’s also gentler on the skin than Retin-A.

It will take at least 12 weeks for noticeable differences to make an appearance. I would say that even 6 months up to a year is a possible time duration until you notice significant changes.

However,

The results are not permanent.

You must continuously use a topical retinol if you want to preserve the appearance of younger-looking skin.

How Retinol Benefits the Skin

There are a few things that retinol is really good at, why it’s a skincare ingredient that’s not just a fade.

It’s not a miracle ingredient that will make our skin perfect in a matter of months but it’s a very good one, retinol is not so popular and so talked about without reason.

Retinol benefits the skin in the following ways:

  • retinol helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and keeps them from becoming deep wrinkles, it makes the skin look smoother and more vibrant
  • before buying a best retinol cream for beginners, you must be aware that it only has an effect on fine lines, deep wrinkles (laugh lines or crow’s feet, also known as expression lines) are hard to fight with any product that’s on the market whether it contains retinol or other age-defying ingredients, they will fade a bit but they won’t go away permanently (those are the realistic expectations)
  • retinol increases collagen production and it also increases the blood flow to the skin because it penetrates the dermis
  • it promotes the production of new skin cells (increases cell turnover )
  • it counters the thinning of the skin, it leads to thicker skin due to its ability to increase cell turnover and that’s one pretty nice benefit, one of the most important ways in which retinol benefits the skin
  • decreases hyperpigmentation
  • reduces age spots
  • decreases pore size (it will make pores less visible) – it can improve the appearance of large pores, although if you are genetically predisposed to having large pores (pore size is genetic, don’t I know it?), just by using retinol they won’t disappear completely
  • effective for treating acne-prone skin and eczema
  • brightens up the skin, conferring it a natural rosy glow

Due to the collagen boosting properties of retinol, expanding your retinol experience by using an eye cream with retinol can be a very good idea.

I’m sure that these retinol benefits have made you eager to start using a best retinol cream for beginners but let’s see which are the side-effects before you do that.

Bakuchiol is the natural alternative that I once again want to remind you of, in case you’re not completely sold on retinol.

Also:

You still need to exfoliate your face. It would be improper to call retinol an exfoliator because retinol is an antioxidant.

You can use a chemical exfoliator for face on the nights when you’re not using retinol.

Chemical exfoliators and retinol creams are not two products to layer on, they can irritate the skin or dry it out. They’re part of the skincare ingredient combinations to avoid.

How Your Skin Might React: Retinol Side-Effects

Before actually listing the side-effects that retinol can bring on, it’s very important to know that how you use retinol is extremely important.

I’ll talk about how retinol should be used immediately after enumerating the retinol side-effects.

There are quite a few side-effects that you should be totally aware of before buying a best retinol cream for beginners:

  • the skin can become more sensitive
  • peeling, flaking, and irritation can happen in the beginning or if you end up using it improperly because it impacts the skin barrier
  • the skin is more sensitive to UV sunlight – during the day (throughout the entire year not only during summer) you must use a moisturizer with SPF (at least SPF 30) or a facial sunscreen, adding a vitamin C serum to your skincare routine and a very good nourishing facial moisturizer for your skin type would be great, too
  • if you use it to treat acne, your acne might get worse, you can experience serious breakouts, before it gets better
  • the same with the redness and peeling – they might appear but they will go away, add a good moisturizer (one with hyaluronic acid or other ingredients that attract and retain moisture) after applying the retinol to counteract the side-effects

This increased sensitivity to external environmental factors is the top reason for which some people choose to not include retinol in their skincare routine.

Which is why you should be applying a moisturizer with SPF/sunscreen daily.

I believe that before buying a best retinol cream for beginners you must be sure of one thing: that you have a strong skin barrier.

What does that mean?

That your existing skincare routine is already focused on face washing done properly and on hydrating and nourishing the skin.

A good exfoliation routine is the next on the list because facial chemical exfoliators have a lot in common with retinol, they share pretty much the same benefits.

Having acne doesn’t mean that your skin isn’t healthy. It simply means that you have acne for one reason or another, the main reason being that’s caused by hormonal imbalances.

I have acne but I have been focused on my hydration routine for many years now, since I have reacted badly to using azelaic acid.

My skin doesn’t get irritated easily, drop in temperatures or harsh winds don’t affect it at all.

Which why I say that moisturizing properly and face washing are the foundation, the steps that cannot be skipped.

It’s the same with wearing sunscreen daily,

If your skin is in optimal condition and you use a best retinol cream for beginners properly, the retinol side-effects might not even happen.

It’s very important to not rush into things so, read further to see how this vitamin A derivative should be used correctly so that you don’t damage your skin barrier.

Retinol for Beginners: How to Use It

This is where you need to pay attention.

Since we’re talking about the best retinol cream for beginners it’s important to know a few things.

Things like:

Only apply the retinol cream/serum on completely dry skin to prevent irritation, dryness, and peeling.

Don’t apply it every single night. Start by applying it 2-3 times a week.

Twice a week to be on the safe side during the first month works, too.

There’s no rush.

If you notice any itchiness or redness, apply it just once a week for a month or so and then get back to twice a week, and so on.

If it still persists, it’s best to apply the retinol cream/serum on top of the moisturizer, not before it, as it’s generally used.

Always layer on a moisturizer.

It can take more than half a year until you can use it every night or every other night, especially for those with sensitive skin.

You should only apply it at night because retinol increases the skin’s sensitivity.

Before applying a best retinol cream for beginners, it can be good to apply an eye cream to protect the very sensitive thin skin around the eyes.

Always a sunscreen the next day.

Just as a reminder:

Don’t neglect your neck area, the skin is thinner than the skin on our faces, it can show our age faster.

It’s just as important to cleanse, hydrate, and layer on sunscreen our necks just as it on our faces, even though we so often forget that. Of that, I’m just as guilty as you are.

Top 10 Best Retinol Creams for Beginners for Any Budget

Now that we’re done with the introduction on retinol, it’s time to talk about some of the best retinol creams and serums for beginners.

There are so many products to choose from and my choices reflect that: you’ll find affordable retinol creams as well as some really high-end ones.

It will be interesting to see what differentiates them.

I also included a gel that’s only for acne, it has no connection with fine lines and wrinkles, it’s just for fighting breakouts.

It’s the last one on the list because I regard it as the unusual one, since it’s solely made for treating acne.

1. CeraVe Retinol Serum, 1 oz – Cheapest Best Retinol Serum

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We’re actually going to start my list for the best retinol cream for beginners with a serum.

From one of my favorite brands.

That’s my kind of start.

There are actually two CeraVe Retinol Serums. And they’re both cheap, I actually dare say the word cheap because that’s what they are by any standard.

Retinol skin care products tend to be on the expensive side but I always try to find more affordable solutions.

CeraVe offers exactly that: products that work, have a minimum chance of side-effects, and are for everyone’s budget.

Which is why, I had to include these two retinol serums from CeraVe on my list for the best retinol cream for beginners.

And as my first recommendation.

CeraVe continues the tradition of targeting specific skin problems with thier products.

Each of these two serums with retinol addresses different needs.

Let’s see which those are and if they match what you expect from a best retinol cream for beginners.

One is a CeraVe Retinol Serum for post-acne marks, a brightening facial serum, good fighting acne.

The ingredients helping it to do that are:

  • encapsulated retinol – it’s a more stable retinol thanks to being enveloped in a protective barrier, which means that it penetrates deeply into the skin, while minimizing the chance of side-effects – you can use this serum every night from the beginning, if there is any discomfort use it every other night until your skin adjusts (give it at lest two weeks up to a month)
  • 3 essential ceramides – lipids that help form the skin’s barrier and retain moisture
  • licorice root extract very good for sensitive skin, it evens out the skin tone, fights hyperpigmentation
  • niacinamide for smaller looking pores and for improving the skin barrier function
  • fragrance free, paraben free, non-comedogenic
  • suitable for all skin types, including oily skin

The other one is an anti-aging CeraVe Retinol Serum – the ingredients helping you have a healthy smooth skin are:

  • encapsulated retinol – there is a smaller risk of side-effects so, you can use this one every night or every other skin if your skin is really sensitive – follow it up with a moisturizer or an anti-wrinkle night cream and, in time, you will definitely notice that your skin is smoother and healthy-looking
  • 3 essential ceramides
  • hyaluronic acid
  • niacinamide
  • MVE Delivery Technology for increased moisture long after applying it
  • fragrance free, paraben free, non-comedogenic

That’s it.

You get two choose from two cheap best retinol serums for beginners, depending on what your needs are.

2. COSMEDIX Clarity Serum – Blemish Fighting Serum, 1 oz – Best Anti-Acne Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

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The COSMEDIX Clarity Skin-Clarifying Serum is the one to get if you want to fight both fine lines and stop them from turning into wrinkles and acne at the same time.

After all,

It’s also called a skin-clarifying serum. It’s a good option for those who are more concerned with breakouts but still want the anti-aging benefits, too.

It sounds like a quite enticing best retinol cream for beginners.

The price is not the cheapest but nothing to be scared of either.

The manufacturer says that it provides 90 applications. That’s pretty nice.

They also say that this anti-acne anti-aging serum with retinol can be used twice daily, followed by a moisturizer, of course.

It will not be irritating, that’s one concern that you forget about.

The list of ingredients definitely screams the words anti-acne:

  • witch hazel water – witch hazel has anti-inflammatory properties and it’s also used as an astringent
  • niacinamide for strengthening the skin barrier
  • salicylic acid – an exfoliant that unclogs pores, prevents blackheads and whiteheads
  • acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin)
  • retinol
  • retinyl acetate, which is another vitamin A derivative (just like retinyl palmitate, slightly weaker)
  • willowherb extract skin – skin calming ingredient
  • tee tree leaf oil
  • aloe
  • grapefruit peel oil

Just by looking at the list of ingredients, we can tell that it’s definitely more anti-acne than anti-aging but there also are two vitamin A derivatives to boost collagen production.

The COSMEDIX Clarity serum is best for acne-prone skin, oily skin, mature skin.

3. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream, 1 oz – Cheapest Best Retinol Cream for Beginners

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This Neutrogena Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream is one incredibly popular product.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

The price is one of the cheapest that one could hope for.

At the same level as the above two CeraVe serums.

The ingredients for the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream form a powerful combination:

  • retinol SA (sustained action) – I think the SA addition is something that only Neutrogena can claim but I’m not completely sure about that and I don’t know if it has a higher impact than the simple retinol without any SA, I just know that this night cream does what it promises to do
  • hyaluronic acid to combat the harshness of the above ingredient
  • glucose complex for strengthening the skin barrier, which the retinol might actually lower with frequent use throughout the years, although this fact hasn’t been researched – I think that the glucose complex is a very nice and interesting addition

It’s great for fighting all kinds of wrinkles on the face and neck: under eye wrinkles (retinol is great for under eye wrinkles, it won’t irritate them at all), crow’s feet, lines on the forehead, and laugh lines.

Just remember:

This Neutrogena anti-wrinkle night cream is a best retinol cream for beginners but retinol acts best on fine lines and it can take quite a while before you see any major results.

Given that,

It’s best to start with a more affordable product, just so you don’t have any regrets.

In the beginning, use it just 2-3 times a week. Use it like that for a couple of months before increasing the pace.

Neutrogena, as all manufacturers do, also warns us that it might cause flaky skin, mild redness, and tingling sensations.

4. Paula’s Choice SKIN RECOVERY Super Antioxidant Serum with Retinol, 1 oz – Best Retinol Serum for Dry Skin

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This is not a retinol serum, instead it’s a serum with retinol.

There’s a difference and I’ll tell you why.

This antioxidant serum can be actually used twice daily.

Is a lot different than all the other best retinol creams for beginners and it can be the perfect way to introduce retinol into your beauty routine in a very gentle manner.

It’s actually a deep hydration serum.

Great for dry skin. Even really dry skin.

You still need to apply a moisturizer for dry skin after this serum.

During the day, this Paula’s Choice antioxidant serum can replace the use of a vitamin C serum because it’s full of antioxidants, including a vitamin C derivative.

It’s a combination of:

  • hydrating oil blend
  • retinol
  • and potent antioxidant blend

You’ll understand more when you see the ingredients, exactly as they appear listed:

  • olive oil, which contains large amounts of antioxidants
  • vitamin E, another antioxidant
  • retinol – as you see, it’s mentioned quite early on the list of ingredients, it’s exactly what one would expect to see from this brand
  • tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (a very stable, oil soluble, very powerful vitamin C derivative) – yet another antioxidant
  • bisabolol – main component of chamomile essential oil, an anti-irritant
  • adenosine – known for decreasing the appearance of wrinkles
  • green tea extract
  • grape seed extract

I actually gave you the shortened version of the list because there are a lot of antioxidants on that list, it’s all pretty much natural.

So,

This is a serum with retinol focused on fighting multiple signs of aging by hydrating the skin, restoring its moisture levels, adding the retinol for preventing the appearance of fine lines, and protecting against environmental factors.

It softens and smooths the skin.

It’s also a pretty affordable antioxidant serum. Affordable and one of the best retinol serums for beginners, even for those with dry or very dry skin.

If you’re ready for something more potent but also considerably more expensive, there’s the Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment Cream with Peptides, Vitamin C & Licorice Extract, that an anti-aging and wrinkles product.

5. First Aid Beauty Retinol Serum .25% Pure Concentrate, 1 oz – Best Anti-Aging Retinol Serum for Sensitive Skin

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If it’s one major thing that I like about FAB skincare products is that they frequently put those with sensitive skin first.

I especially recommend their facial cleanser if you have sensitive skin.

But let’s get back to the topic at hand, finding the best retinol cream for beginners.

The FAB Retinol Serum has a nice low concentration, it’s one of the reasons why it claims to be an anti-aging serum for sensitive skin.

This FAB serum promises minimal irritation, while targeting fine lines and wrinkles.

But it will be pricey, this promise of minimal irritation combined with a congregation of anti-aging, protective, hydrating ingredients.

Besides the 0.25% retinol concentration, there are other ingredients that strive to give users firmer, younger-looking skin:

  • advanced peptides – without peptides, the skin loses firmness and wrinkles appear, which is why this is an ingredient that works so well in combination with antioxidants and other skin-restoring ingredients, like retinol
  • hyaluronic acid
  • vitamins C (magnesium ascorbyl phosphate) and E
  • aloe
  • colloidal oatmeal – good anti-inflammatory
  • allantoin for moisturizing the skin
  • ceramide

It’s also alcohol-free, fragrance-free, and free of anything that might be harmful to the skin.

FAB recommend applying this serum 3 nights per week and then increase to once every other night and then nightly based on how your skin reacts.

This is a great serum for those with sensitive skin but you still need to follow it up with a moisturizer, like it’s the case with pretty much all serums, including vitamin C serums.

6. StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer, 1.7 oz – Best Retinol Moisturizer for the Night


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This one is a moisturizer with a unique technology for handling side-effects so, you can try using it every night without worrying about irritated flaky skin.

It shouldn’t cause any irritation or redness since it’s a moisturizer not a retinol serum and no moisturizer should do that.

The StriVectin Retinol Moisturizer should replace your usual moisturizer for the night.

We could call it a 2-in-1 product, while also being a very expensive best retinol cream for beginners.

I just have to warn you that it’s very expensive. It’s a major difference between this best retinol cream for beginners and the other creams and serums reviewed above.

At least it’s not the standard 1 oz tube for serums.

You get 1.7 oz for your money, which is a pretty standard measure for moisturizers.

Even so,

The ingredients for the StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer are impressive:

  • retinol – no mention of concentration
  • copper tripeptides which promote the production of collagen and elastin and even contribute to promoting the production of glycosaminoglycans (hyaluronic acid)
  • retinyl palmitate similar to retinol but less powerful and more gentle
  • patented NIA-114 Technology, which is a form of Niacin/Vitamin B3 that acts as a skin barrier, diminishing the chance of side-effects, and supercharges the performance of other ingredients
  • resveratrol which is a powerful antioxidant – it can be found in grape skin, dark chocolate, berries, and peanuts
  • aloe vera
  • olive oil and castor oil

As you can see,

They don’t include only retinol but retinyl palmitate, too.

I know products that only have retinyl palmitate and are still marketed as anti-aging so, that’s a nice surprise from StriVectin and this is a moisturizer not a serum.

It’s perfect for all skin types.

It promises to do wonders for dry skin, while reducing fine lines and preventing future wrinkles from invading your skin.

They also have an Advanced Retinol Concentrated Serum.

They advise people to apply their night moisturizer with retinol after the serum but that’s a combination that would cost you about $200.

I don’t think that many people are going to be jumping on that.

You could get the anti-aging CeraVe Retinol Serum and follow it up with the StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer.

Or you could just start with the CeraVe serum since it’s cheap and hold off on using expensive skin care products like the StriVectin Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer as your best retinol cream for beginners until you’re certain that you are ready for something so expensive.

But wait,

I’ve got something even better below.

7. Obagi Medical Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex, 1 oz – Best Retinal Serum

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The Obagi Skin Rejuvenating Complex is one extremely expensive skincare product.

Considering that its price is over $100, it’s definitely way more than I could afford but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people out there who can enjoy it.

And they should enjoy it, it’s fantastic, there’s no other word to describe it.

However,

The price is not the only reason that sets it apart from the other the best retinol cream for beginners.

The reason is that this cream doesn’t actually contain retinol but retinal.

The Obagi Medical Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex contains retinal.

It’s just a letter difference, one could easily mistaken the two.

But,

Retinal is much closer to Retin-A in power than retinol is, that’s the major difference between the two.

Retinal is almost as potent as Retin-A without being as irritating.

Retinal is more powerful than retinol and an ingredient not often encountered in over the counter vitamin A derivatives serums or creams.

And that’s why I couldn’t wait to talk about it.

You should at least know about it.

The main ingredients for the Obagi Skin Rejuvenating Complex are:

  • 0.1% retinaldehyde (retinal), which has a lower incidence of irritating the skin, which makes it a perfect choice for those with sensitive skin and a best retinol cream for beginners
  • spent grain wax for soothing dry and irritated skin
  • palmitoyl tripeptide-5 another collagen booster
  • safflower seed oil a great moisturizer for all skin types, easily absorbed by the skin
  • chamomilla recutita flower extract has soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, great for preventing redness

Those are some powerful ingredients, combined perfectly with the intention to boost collagen, prevent wrinkles, diminish fine lines, and sooth and moisturize the skin at the same time.

You can’t help but admire such a combination.

It’s recommended for all skin types, whether you have oily skin, normal skin, sensitive skin or are acne-prone.

Those who suffer from breakouts will benefit from using the Obagi Medical Retivance Skin Rejuvenating Complex, too.

I don’t want to say that your breakouts will be gone completely because I’m not in the position to do that but it can help. Just read the user reviews about it.

You can just start by using it every night, there’s a lower chance of irritation than with the above best retinol creams for beginners.

A much more affordable alternative, half the price of this one is the Obagi Medical 360 Retinol 1.0. It’s a powerful retinol product, start by using it 2-3 times a week and use just a small amount, you’ll notice a difference in your skin texture and fine lines.

8. L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum, 0.3% Pure Retinol, 1 0z – High Concentration, Good Price

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After seeing what a lot of money can buy, it’s time to go back to much more affordable best retinol creams for beginners.

This time, it’s another serum. An anti-aging anti-wrinkles one, of course.

This L’Oreal Paris Intensives Night Serum with Pure Retinol 0.3%could actually be the perfect substitute for the FAB Retinol Serum.

The L’Oreal is even half the price of the FAB, it definitely sounds like a good alternative.

They even have similar retinol concentrations. I do love products that clearly state their concentration.

The 0.3% is pretty good. For example, a 1% concentration can be considered high and for more experienced users not beginners.

Which makes it a best retinol serum for beginners that can be used by those with sensitive skin, too.

As long as you layer on a hydrating cream.

They even include 3 samples of Triple Power Fragrance-Free Face Moisturizer, which is also an anti-aging moisturizer, that should be applied after the retinol serum to restore hydration and strengthen the skin barrier, preventing the retinol from irritating the skin.

Even so,

Introduce the retinol serum slowly into your routine. Start by just using it just 2 nights a week and gradually increase the pace across a few months’ time.

Those with sensitive skin can settle on using it every other night.

This one is called pure retinol, considered to be the most potent form of retinol, which is supposed to work faster. It will still take a few months until noticeable results appear.

It is fragrance-free.

The main difference between the L’Oreal serum and the FAB serum is that this one doesn’t have any other ingredients that can excite us (soybean oil is on the list of ingredients, which is rich in vitamin E), like the FAB has.

Still,

For the price and the good concentration of pure retinol, the L’Oreal Paris Intensives Night Serum is definitely one to give a second thought to.

9. PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment 0.5% Pure Retinol, 1 oz – Anti-Acne Anti-Aging

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Well,

It’s back to products whose price exceeds $100. This is the second on this list for the best retinol cream for beginners, besides the Obagi Skin Rejuvenating Complex.

If you have that much money to spend, please consider the Obagi first.

Moreover,

I still think that the COSMEDIX Clarity serum, which I reviewed above, should be the first you check out because it’s so much more affordable than the PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment.

Although,

The PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment is in equal measures interested in diminishing breakouts and diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

It has the ingredients to back that up.

And,

I do love a product that states concentrations so nicely, both for retinol and for salicylic acid, in this case.

With all that being said, let’s see what the PCA Skin Intensive Clarity Treatment offers:

  • a very high 0.5% pure retinol concentration – that’s really nice indeed and you can be sure that it will fight fine lines and acne with intensity
  • salicylic acid 2% – a high concentration of an acid know for clearing up clogged pores and preventing blackheads and whiteheads
  • niacinamide
  • bakuchiol – this is another nice surprise since bakuchiol is also called nature’s gentle retinol and I’m talking about it just later down in this post as an excellent alternative to the best retinol creams for beginners, especially for those who have really sensitive skin
  • myristoyl nonapeptide-3 – a peptide which is believed to have retinol-like effects so, another ingredient that increases cell turnover and boosts collagen production
  • lilac leaf cell culture extract – a powerful antioxidant

Don’t forget that this is a powerful best retinol serum for beginners, an anti-aging anti-breakouts product.

Always follow it up with a moisturizer.

Start by only using it only two nights a week and gradually advance to every other night or every night.

You might also experience purging before the skin starts to clear out, which is expected to happen with retinol.

It’s not definitely that purging will occur but it might, be prepared for that, especially when it comes to buying expensive serums, like this one.

10. Differin Gel, 0.5 oz – Only for Acne, Adapalene Gel


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Differin (Adapalene) is great for acne and you can get it over-the-counter.

Adapalene is a vitamin A derivative, just like retinol is.

But there are differences between them.

I still wanted to mention Differin Gel among my best retinol cream for beginners recommendations even though it’s a different vitamin A derivative for one good reason: it’s a good product to try against acne.

Adapalene is also considered to be less irritating, which makes it a perfect candidate for fighting acne.

The Adapalene is the star of the show.

It has the same amazing benefits that Retin-A confers without the major side-effects.

Which is why it can be used in the mornings as well as in the evenings.

Wait until your face is completely dry before you apply Differin, otherwise it might peel.

If you’re using it during the day, too, always apply a sunscreen before going out.

Just like any retinoid product, it takes a while until the results kick in but when they do, it can be pretty impressive.

It’s no wonder that the Differin Gel is so popular and so highly appreciated by its countless users.

The price is surprisingly affordable.

It’s also oil-free, alcohol-free, fragrance-free, non-comedogenic.

Frankly,

If you want a product for treating acne without going to a dermatologist, the Differin Gel should be among your first options.

If you have the patience to wait a few months for the results, you will be amazed with your skin’s health evolution.

The alternative to this one is the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment, which is also very good.

Bakuchiol – Nature’s Retinol: The Gentle Alternative

If you are concerned with how your skin might react to using a retinol serum or cream for the first time, there’s an alternative.

I really wanted to include this in my article so, I hope I didn’t bore you and you’ve completely given up on reading.

You might be interested in reading about this.

Bakuchiol is especially a fantastic retinol replacement for those with really sensitive skin and for those suffering from skin conditions like eczema.

It has the same benefits without the side-effects.

It can be applied during the day as well as at night, it doesn’t create UV sensitivity nor is its efficacy impacted by sun exposure.

Bakuchiol is a natural ingredient found the seeds of an Indian plant called psoralea corylifolia.

It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it boosts collagen production and fights pigmentation.

It might even be good against acne but it’s definitely good at preventing fine lines and wrinkles from appearing.

It sounds perfect and, in my opinion, it’s worth considering.

Whish Restoring Face Oil, 1 oz – Retinol Substitute to Moisturize All Skin Types


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Did someone say oil on top of oil and another oil and just a bit more oil with fantastic properties?

Then, they were probably talking about the Whish Restoring Face Oil.

This one packs a powerful combination of ingredients:

  • as moisturizers there are: macadamia ternifolia seed oil, olive fruit oil, organic starflower oil
  • for soothing we get: black currant seed oil, apricot kernel oil, organic evening primrose oil
  • the wrinkles are handled by: bakuchiol, organic rose hip oil, organic argan oil

With all those absolutely fantastic ingredients is it any wonder that it’s not exactly affordable?

It isn’t.

But if you suffer from really dry skin, if you have sensitive skin but want to enjoy an anti-aging product without any risk of irritation or peeling, the Whish Restoring Face Oil can help you will all that.

You can use it both in the morning and evening, it can replace any moisturizer and anti-aging cream.

The Whish Restoring Face Oil is at the top of the list for the best products with bakuchiol, there’s no doubt about that.

It won’t leave your skin feeling oily, it is easily absorbed by the skin. Absolutely perfect with its wide array of natural ingredients.

Additional Retinol Alternatives

They might not be as incredible as retinol is at preventing wrinkles and filling in fine lines but they’re worth considering as alternatives:

  • rosehip seed oil
  • epidermal growth factor
  • niacinamide
  • vitamin E
  • definitely using a vitamin C serum daily
  • a moisturizer based on hyaluronic acid or a hyaluronic acid serum

Eminence Bamboo Firming Fluid, 1.2 oz – Natural Retinol Alternative Only for Normal to Dry Skin, Mature Skin

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I’m pretty sure not many of you have heard of this one.

It seems that there’s another natural alternative to retinol, besides bakuchiol and the other ingredient combinations enumerated just above.

The natural alternative to retinol is represented by chicory root and tara tree gum. It seems that Eminence is the only brand to claim the combination of these two as a natural retinol alternative.

My opinions is simple:

There are actual studies for bakuchiol that demonstrate that this particular ingredient and no other is a more tolerable alternative to retinol so, you know exactly what to expect from bakuchiol.

The rest of the ingredients for the Eminence Bamboo Firming Fluid sound promising and natural but that’s to be expected when it comes to Eminence:

  • coconut water – a good moisturizer and toner for a balanced pH
  • bamboo – strengthens the skin’s barrier and improves elasticity
  • Swiss green apple stem cell concentrate – rejuvenates the appearance of the skin
  • coconut oil – good moisturizer but comedogenic (it can clog pores and might cause breakouts for some) – remember, this is only for normal and dry skin, for mature skin since it’s only focused on rejuvenating and hydrating the skin – don’t consider it if you are acne-prone or have sensitive skin
  • ascorbyl palmitate (vitamin C derivative)
  • CoQ10

This bamboo firming fluid promises some pretty extraordinary things:

  • tighter skin is as little as 5 minutes
  • softer wrinkles in 28 days

Eminence recommend this natural retinol alternative only to people with normal to dry skin.

Unfortunately,

That limits the number of people that can enjoy this natural retinol alternative by a lot. Don’t buy it if you have sensitive, acne-prone, oily, or combination skin.

Don’t forget about applying sunscreen/a moisturizer with SPF daily.

And, as I strongly believe, eating as healthy as we can does most of the work in maintaining a healthy skin not only body.

Well,

This has been another long post. I’m as passionate about skin care as I am about hair removal methods, epilators in particular, which often results in writing quite a lot about them.

But I’m happy with my best retinol cream for beginners findings and for being able to present you with the pros and cons of using retinol, it was worth it, the rest is up to you.