Don't Waste Your Money is supported by our readers. When you purchase an item through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The Best Retinol Cream for Face

Last updated on February 7, 2023

We looked at the top 7 Retinol Creams for Face and dug through the reviews from 21 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best Retinol Creams for Face.

Our Review Process

Don't Waste Your Money is focused on helping you make the best purchasing decision. Our team of experts spends hundreds of hours analyzing, testing, and researching products so you don't have to. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Retinol Creams for Face

View All Recommendations
Product Overview
Key Takeaway
Pros
Cons
 Top Pick

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Cream for Face

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval

Neutrogena

Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Cream for Face

In this jar, you’ll get 1.7 ounces of face cream. The formula includes retinol to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark spots plus hyaluronic acid for moisture. The formula contains no parabens, mineral oil or dyes and you can choose a fragrance-free version.

Overall Take

Visible ResultsThis cream promises to temporarily diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a smooth complexion.

Pros
" Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Cream is a very strong retinol cream and works well to help with fine lines and wrinkles."
Cons
"Some may dislike the scent"
 Runner Up

Simplified Skin 2.5% Retinol Cream for Face

Simplified Skin

2.5% Retinol Cream for Face

With a list of ingredients designed to reduce fine lines and keep your skin smooth, this anti-aging cream is a great option. In addition to retinol, it includes Vitamins E and B5, shea butter, green tea and jojoba oil. It adds no harmful chemicals to your beauty routine.

Overall Take

Lightweight and ComfortableYou'll like this retinol product with aloe vera, which gives a cooling effect to the lightweight formula.

Pros
" Simplified Skin's Retinol Moisturizer is filled with ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and green tea to receive and moisturize the skin."

Designed for nighttime use, this retinol product includes glycerin to help revitalize the skin plus a proprietary mineral complex that promises to firm skin while reducing the appearance of wrinkles. It’s non-greasy and non-comedogenic and comes in a 1-ounce bottle.

Overall Take

Gentle and NourishingWhether you're targeting fine lines and wrinkles or dark circles under your eyes, this cream adds radiance.

Pros
" RoC’s Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream is a great gentle, affordable retinol option that works quickly."
Cons
"As for downsides, it dries kind of sticky once you’ve applied it and it doesn’t have a lot of skin-soothing ingredients to help with irritation."
 Strong Contender

Radha Beauty Miracle 2.5% Retinol Cream for Face

Radha Beauty

Miracle 2.5% Retinol Cream for Face

This quick-drying natural formula includes 2.5% active retinol, along with Vitamin E, organic aloe vera, green tea, jojoba oil and shea butter. Each portable jar contains 1.7 ounces of cream designed to improve complexions while brightening and moisturizing all skin types.

Overall Take

Absorbs QuicklyThe quick-drying formula of this retinol cream makes it easy to use under your makeup or while you sleep.

Pros
" According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo, the inclusion of 2.5 percent retinol (along with the skin-soothing ingredients mentioned above) is likely what makes this formula a success for so many."

Buying Guide

Retinol has become one of the top beauty trends in recent years. You’ll see it listed on moisturizers, lotions and serums. But retinol isn’t just a buzzword — its claims are backed by science, with multiple studies showing that it is effective in reducing wrinkles, fading age spots, and softening skin. With prolonged use, retinol has been found to thicken the epidermis and boost collagen production. Using retinol regularly can improve your skin in numerous ways.

Perhaps the best thing about retinol is that it’s more or less a topical form of vitamin A. It’s used not only for reducing fine lines, but also to help lessen the appearance of blemishes and spots. Prescription versions called retinoids are more potent, but as an over-the-counter product, retinol is pretty powerful in itself.

Retinol products can come with side effects, though, especially if you start out using it aggressively. Some experience red skin or peeling skin and itchiness after using them. It’s best to try small amounts every few days at first, then use it more often once you’re comfortable that you won’t have a reaction.

To counter the drying effects of retinol products, many of them build in moisturizers. If you’re concerned about chemicals, you’ll want to look for one that uses natural oils and vitamins for hydration, such as the humectant hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance found in your eyes and joints. Since hyaluronic acid production slows with age, many anti-aging products build this ingredient in.

For additional moisture, aloe vera and natural oils like jojoba oil and shea butter are popular add-ins. Some products claim a proprietary mix of vitamins and oils designed to nourish the skin.

Over the years, researchers have looked into retinol’s effectiveness in wound healing. The ability to thicken the epidermis and boost collagen production can be a great help when you’re waiting for skin to repair itself. However, if this is important to you, please consult a physician for proper retinol use.

Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
14

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the retinol creams for face available to purchase.
7

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

21

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Good Housekeeping, Harper's Bazaar, The Stripe, US Weekly, Best Reviews Guide.

276,914

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including

Our experts reviewed the top 7 Retinol Creams for Face and also dug through the reviews from 21 of the most popular review sites including and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Retinol Creams for Face.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Don't Waste Your Money Seal of Approval
Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Simplified Skin 2.5% Retinol Cream for Face

Key Takeawy

With a list of ingredients designed to reduce fine lines and keep your skin smooth, this anti-aging cream is a great option. In addition to retinol, it includes Vitamins E and B5, shea butter, green tea and jojoba oil. It adds no harmful chemicals to your beauty routine.

What other experts liked

Simplified Skin's Retinol Moisturizer is filled with ingredients like retinol, hyaluronic acid, shea butter, and green tea to receive and moisturize the skin.
- InStyle
Clean skin care brand Simplified Skin has worked its magic to create a powerful cocktail of antioxidants combined with retinol
- Skincare Ox

What other experts didn't like

I gave Simplified Skin Retinol Moisturizer Cream 1/5 stars because it left my skin broken out and feeling irritated.
- Retinol

What to Look For

  • Retinol can work well to improve skin appearance. If you have a blemish you’re concerned about, though, make sure you consult a physician.
  • If you’re worried you may react badly to retinol, test a small patch of skin and wait a day or two to make sure all is good before expanding to a wider area.
  • Retinol makes skin more sensitive to UV rays. Most products are designed to be used at night, but you should still wear sunscreen during the daytime while you’re using retinol regularly. If you’re leaving for a sun-filled vacation soon, take a break from retinol treatments until you return.
  • Clogged pores can be a problem with some moisturizers. Make sure you choose moisturizers marked non-comedogenic, which means they’re designed not to clog pores.
  • Some products build retinol in, but if you’re looking for noticeable results quickly, you’ll need something more concentrated. These are often sold in 1- to 2-ounce bottles or tubes. A great thing about this smaller format is that it’s easy to slide into a pocket of your overnight bag or into a corner of your makeup kit.
  • You can find retinol products that are free of parabens and other synthetic substances. You can also find retinol products that promise no animal cruelty was involved in their manufacture along with ones that use sustainable packaging.
  • Fragrance can be a problem, especially if you have sensitivities. Some retinol products promise to be fragrance-free but may still have a light scent to them.

More to Explore

Although ancient Egyptians and Greeks didn’t realize it, they were using vitamin A as a treatment when they tried to cure night blindness with the use animal livers.  But it wasn’t until 1912 that Frederick Gowland Hopkins discovered the factors in milk that would eventually be recognized as vitamin A.

Then, in 1943, the first study using retinoic acid to treat acne was published. This led to this topical form of vitamin A becoming a widely used acne treatment in the decades to follow. But the big breakthrough came in 1983, when a published study confirmed that retinoic acid could be a suitable treatment for skin aging. Due to the skin irritation that came from using products with retinoic acid, though, a milder form called retinol was developed in the 1990s.

From our partners