17 of the best retinol creams according to our beauty editors
Retinol: it’s the skincare ingredient that needs no introduction. By now you’re likely already aware of the near infinite benefits it has to offer. From working wonders on fine lines and wrinkles, to improving skin’s texture, reducing scarring and enlarged pores. It’s also great for people with acne.
As leading Hollywood dermatologist, Dr Lancer, who works with famous faces like Victoria Beckham and Beyonce, explains – it’s one that truly works. “Retinol is lauded for it’s medically and scientifically-proven ability to speed up the skin’s cell cycle” he says. “It is one of the few ingredients on the market that comes with this absolute guarantee – it has no gimmicks.” The zero BS approach makes it even more appealing.
So, when should you start using retinol?
In theory, you could start using retinol in your mid to late 20s. Prevention is better than cure – aka the earlier the better – but, obviously within reason (if you’re under 25, you probs don’t need it).
How do I choose a retinol?
There are variations of retinol and also different strengths. If you’re just starting out, you should be using a low percentage. La Roche-Posay Redermic R, is the perfect starting point as it contains a mere 0.3%, it’s also a good option for people with sensitive skin. The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane is a great contender for newbies, too, plus it’s super affordable.
If you’re a seasoned retinol user, Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 is a great option (and one we personally swear by). One of the strongest formulas out there Sunday Riley’s A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum is an incredibly potent, supercharged serum that will get you results fast.
How do you use retinol?
Apply it at night and avoid mixing it with other active skincare ingredients. It can be layered with hyaluronic acid, but try to minimise mixing it with lots of products.
Are there any side effects?
Unfortunately, retinol does come with some side effects, though these can be reduced by choosing the right formula for your skin type and applying it properly. You should always introduce retinol tentatively into your skincare routine at first, then build it up slowly as your skin becomes more tolerant. Initially, begin using it a couple of times a week in smaller doses. As you start to see results and less irritation, you can steadily increase the percentage – but this has to be done over time (read more about best practice retinol usage here). Overuse of retinol can cause redness, sensitivity and peeling. Keep in mind that whilst using any product containing retinol you’ll need to apply daily sunscreen.
These are 13 of our favourite retinol formulas that we actually use…