The Best Retinol Products for Skin Over 50, According to Experts

The Best Retinol Products for Skin Over 50, According to Experts featured image

“Retinol, or retinoids, have been our gold standard for anti-aging and acne since the ’70s, and the science behind them has proven their value,” says Beverly Hills, CA dermatologist Ava Shamban, MD. “These derivatives of vitamin A act like the fuel for the engine in our cells to get to work. Retinoids work to speed up our natural cellular metabolic processes that slow down as we age. They signal our skin cells at the surface to turn over and make way for new cell growth underneath. They not only train them to act younger, but also to defend our collagen from free-radical damage and thwart its breakdown to thicken the deeper layer of skin. It creates a plumping effect, as well as helps minimize fine lines, wrinkles, acne, acne scarring, and enlarged pores.” 

Though retinol is considered the number-one anti-aging ingredient in skin care, not all retinol products are best-suited for mature skin. It’s best to look for those with multiple heavy-hitting ingredients to get an even more effective treatment. These are the top retinol products for the face and body, as recommended by leading dermatologists and plastic surgeons.

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Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($130)

“This effective cream combines a retinoid with alphahydroxy acids—lactic acid plus glycolic acid—hyaluronic acid, peptides, botanicals and antioxidants to improve tolerability and results. Alphahydroxy acids improve photoaging directly while also improving hydration. Hyaluronic acid helps hold in moisture. Peptides and antioxidants have anti-aging properties, and the botanicals are calming.”

—Nanuet, NY dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD

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SkinCeuticals Tripeptide-R Neck Repair ($126)

“For neck and décolleté, this neck cream includes a super slow-release retinol and tripeptide concentrate. It is a corrective tech-neck product helps reduced collagen-denaturation and works on the horizontal neck lines, but is  gentle enough for the delicate skin of the neck.” 

—Dr. Shamban

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Alastin Renewal Retinol .5 ($64)

“I suggest Alastin’s 0.5-percent retinol that in efficacy is stronger than any prescription. It has hydrating coenzymeQ10 and a hyaluronic booster, which are good for mature skin. And it’s affordable. It is also paraben-free and gluten-free.”

—Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby

“Alastin Retinol Renewal combines the benefits of an encapsulated retinol with their proprietary peptide complex that supports collagen and elastin, oat extract to calm the skin, antioxidants to help stabilize the retinol, and moisturizers to improve tolerability.”

—Dr. Waldorf

“This serum is an encapsulated format of vitamin A (retinol) to improve stability and allow for longer, slower delivery into the skin. It also contains antioxidant hydroxy-methoxy-phenyl, which supports natural hyaluronic acid production. And, it comes in a 0.25 strength too if you need a lower concentration.” 

—Dr. Shamban

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 SkinMedica Retinol Complex (Starting at $58)

“This is a topical retinoid I frequently recommend for mature skin. Its formula helps to minimize any irritation and it comes in three strengths—0.25, 0.5 and 1.0 percent—so it is easy to gradually increase as tolerated. Over time, it can help build collagen and minimize old sun damage.”

—Greenwich, CT dermatologist Lynne Haven, MD

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Instytutum Powerful RetinOil ($130)

“This is granactive retinoid, bakuchiol and algae in a luxe oil formula, which has a wonderful blend of antioxidants, lipids and emollients, as well as calming agents like bisabolol. Plus,  it’s great because it can be worn at night or during the day.” 

—Dr. Shamban

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Doris Day MD Skincare Retinol Body Serum ($185)

“In the 50s and up, I like cosmeceutical-strength retinols because they contain excellent concentrations and they also have other ingredients like peptides and antioxidants that can help rejuvenate the skin and improve texture and tone and reduce lines and wrinkles. It’s important to use retinol not just on the face, but also on the body. I have an amazing retinol for the body that has a gentle salicylic acid, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and one of my favorite retinoids called hydroxypinocolone retinoate—aka high-powered retinol—that really helps with crepey skin and uneven skin tone.”

—New York dermatologist Doris Day, MD

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La Roche-Posay Redermic R Retinol Cream ($52)

“This pure retinol, anti-aging cream has advanced smoothing benefits because of the addition of lipohydroxy acid—a derivative of salicylic acid—so skin texture is tackled, and it also contains additional softness and smoothing properties.”

—Dr. Shamban

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Luzern Laboratories Nuit Creme Intensive ($325)

“I really like the Luzern line of products, and this night cream contains both retinol and peptides to rejuvenate skin while you sleep. When you’ve reached the age of 50, your skin cells have accumulated damage over the years and it’s harder for them to repair themselves, paving the way for pre-cancerous and cancerous processes to occur. I also like retinol products with growth factors to help stimulate collagen growth and keep the skin healthy.”

—Beverly Hills, CA facial plastic surgeon Kimberly J. Lee, MD

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Beauty Pie Super Retinol Anti-Aging Hand Treatment (1%) ($50)

“This is also a version of encapsulated retinol with an advanced biotech collagen and some super-rich emollients like shea butter that make this luxe cream great for treating sunspots on the hands.” 

—Dr. Shamban

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StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten & Correct Vitamin C Serum ($72)

“The brightening power of vitamin C and the anti-aging power of retinol make the perfect pairing in this light serum that gets the job DONE!”

—Dr. Shamban

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Skinbetter Science Intensive AlphaRet Overnight Cream ($130) 

“This has proven to be basically closely comparable to Rx- strength tretinoin when treating erythema, dyschromia, tone, texture and fine lines, and is well-tolerated. But, their newer peel pads with the combination of a potent retinoid and an alpha hydroxy literally wipe away wrinkles but leave skin feeling fresh and not dry.”

—Dr. Shamban

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