8 Doctors Reveal the Best Retinols to Buy

Retinol: you know you need to use one every night (or every other night if your skin is more on the sensitive side) in order to stimulate collagen production, decrease the look of lines and wrinkles, even out pigmentation and just have more plump, younger-looking skin in general. But when you’re faced with an aisle (or shelf) full of different products to choose from, how can you tell which one will really do the trick and put your skin on the path to perfection? We asked 11 experts for their favorite picks—ranging rom over-the-counter options to prescription-strength creams and gels—and, simply put, why they work.

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1/8

“I recommend SkinMedica Retinol ($93) for my patients who are seeking retinol primarily for anti-aging. It has excellent efficacy without irritation and is well-tolerated, especially in more mature skin. For those who are seeking retinol primarily for acne, I prefer Tazorac, especially in skin of color, as it also improves post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.” 

– Dr. Vic Narurkar, Dermatologist

2/8

Replenix All Transretinol 3x Smoothing Serum ($67) is effective because it has a slow-release delivery system to ensure less irritation. The formula is wrapped in green tea polyphenols, caffeine and hyaluronic acid to soothe skin, and patients with sensitive skin can tolerate the formula. This retinol product leads to softer, smoother, firmer and more evenly toned skin.”

– Dr. John Ness, Plastic Surgeon


3/8

“My favorite medical-grade retinol product is SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 ($60). It is time-released, so you don’t get all the medication at once, which makes it milder on the skin. Patients don’t seem to get red like they do with other retinol products. I recommend mixing it with your favorite moisturizer—I like SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 ($125), which contains ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids.” 

– Dr. Frank Agullo, Plastic Surgeon

4/8

“Retinol is a form of retinoid, which is a derivative of vitamin A to refine the skin and signs of aging that are often caused from environmental factors. My favorite retinol products for the winter are Avon Anew Clinical Line Eraser with Retinol Treatment ($40), and SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 ($60) and Retinol 1.0 ($72).” 

– Dr. Kim Nichols, Dermatologist




5/8

ZO Skin Health Ossential Growth Factor Serum Plus ($148) by is one of my favorite products because not only does it contain retinol, which allows for an even cell by cell exfoliation, but the use of plant growth factors also helps increase collagen production and encourage healthy skin cell renewal. This is a great 'starter' retinol for patients not acclimated to any form of vitamin A. Patients find their skin tone looking more even and a noticeable softening of fine lines.” 

– Dr. Benjamin Schlecter, Plastic Surgeon



6/8

“The benefit of using medical-grade retinol is that the percentage of active ingredients is usually higher than what you can purchase over the counter, which will produce faster and greater benefits. I recommend Avène RetrinAL 0.1 Intensive Cream ($69) to many of my patients. It gently softens fine lines, evens out skin tone and texture and restores vibrancy to the skin without redness or irritation.” 

– Dr. Daniel Sherick, Plastic Surgeon



7/8

“I like prescription-strength retinoids. I start patients on Renova, which is a low dose of retinol. Once they build up a tolerance and can use it daily, I bump them up to a stronger dose. Retinols are perfect for any anti-aging regimen. They stimulate collagen to help with fine lines and wrinkles and are also beneficial for hyperpigmentation.” 

– Dr. Jeffrey Wise, Facial Plastic Surgeon


8/8

“Retinol is a magic ingredient that when absorbed into the skin, transforms into retinoic acid, which has dramatic effects on the overall appearance and health of your skin (anti-acging, acne-clearing, tone-enhancing). I love Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30 ($22) because it works against fine lines during the day but also protects your skin with SPF while helping to brighten discoloration. Retin-A Micro is another one of my favorites because its stronger than your typical OTC retinol. Retin-A Micro is a topical acne agent, but also smooths fine lines, wrinkles and fades hyperpigmentation." 

– Dr. Julie Russak, Dermatologist

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