The 13 Best Retinol Products For Sensitive Skin

<p>Retinol products that are good for sensitive skin should have a few different things. First, a relatively low concentration of a retinoid (some dermatologists suggest looking for retinal, rather than retinol). Second, there should be skin soothing and hydrating ingredients included in the formula, like hyaluronic acid, as well as <a href=”https://www.esquire.com/style/grooming/g45697698/best-face-serums-men/” target=”_blank”>skin barrier-boosting ingredients</a> like ceramides and peptides. Basically, you want a formula that tempers the possible irritating effects of retinol with other ingredients—not just a straight up retinol.</p><p>It’s also in how you apply it. Dermatologist <a href=”https://www.sohoskinandhair.com/” target=”_blank”>Robert Finney, MD</a> recommends always applying it to dry skin and using it only “two to three nights a week before slowly building up to nightly use. Apply a thin layer and consider sandwiching it between two layers of moisturizer if you notice sensitivity.” When it comes to retinol, <a href=”https://www.esquire.com/style/grooming/g45411152/best-moisturizer-for-dry-skin/” target=”_blank”>moisturization</a> is key. As for which retinol to use for sensitive skin, start with this list of expert recommendations.</p>”/>

Skip to Content

Every product was carefully curated by an Esquire editor. We may earn a commission from these links.

Sephora

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 1 Serum

Crystal Retinal 1 Serum

Medik8 Crystal Retinal 1 Serum

This effective product uses retinal (note the “a”) which “is better tolerated than retinol” says dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, meaning it’s less likely to irritate your skin (plus, some studies suggest it works faster and better). What really makes this product good for sensitive skin, however, is that it comes in 10 different strengths so sticking to a lower level further reduces your risk of irritation. “Levels one and three are ideal for those with super reactive skin,” she says.

RoC Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Advanced Retinol Serum

Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Advanced Retinol Serum

RoC Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Advanced Retinol Serum

One of the keys to finding a retinol product that’s good for sensitive skin is to look for additional hydrating and moisturizing ingredients. Case in point, this serum. “It combines a stabilized form of retinol with hyaluronic acid, which only gives synergistic benefits and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but it helps minimize potential irritation, so it can be used even in people who have sensitive skin,” says dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD.

Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream

AlphaRet Overnight Cream

Skinbetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream

There are a couple of reasons this classic retinol product is ideal for sensitive skin. First, “it has a little glycolic and lactic acid attached to the active retinoid to help it penetrate quicker,” says Dr. Finney. Second, the specific kind of retinoid doesn’t need to be converted into a useable version by your skin—like some others. “The longer a retinoid sits on the skin before penetrating and is converted, the more irritating it is.” Not for nothing, there’s also niacinamide, squalane, ceramides and more in the formula to help protect the skin barrier (another way to curb irritation).

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Skinbetter Science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream

EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream

Skinbetter Science EyeMax AlphaRet Overnight Cream

“If you’re really sensitive, maybe start with this which is made for eyelid skin,” recommends Dr. Finney. Since it’s formulated for the eye area specifically, it’s going to be super delicate and gentle. It’s a small bottle, so won’t last a very long time if you’re using it on your whole face, but “when that’s finished, move up to the regular AlphaRet Overnight Cream,” he says.

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Retinol + HPR Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream

Ceramide Retinol + HPR Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Retinol + HPR Rapid Skin Renewing Water Cream

This lightweight cream contains anti-aging powerhouse retinol, but it’s combined with ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier, hyaluronic acid to help hydrate skin and bisabolol and ginger root to help soothe potential irritation. The addition of moisturization ingredients help to curb potentially gnarly side effects of retinol like flaking and irritation and make “the tolerability great even in retinol naive (beginners) and sensitive patients,” says Dr. Engelman.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ Anti-Wrinkle Night Moisturizer

Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ Anti-Wrinkle Night Moisturizer

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ Anti-Wrinkle Night Moisturizer

A small concentration of retinol (0.3%) isn’t the only reason this night cream is great for sensitive skin. It’s also packed with hyaluronic acid, which helps hydrate skin and curb potential irritation, and it’s also free from other potentially irritating ingredients like fragrance, dyes and more. It’s a good bet that dermatologist Evan Rieder, MD recommends.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

On Sale

Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

Now 26% Off

This effective drugstore serum, also recommended by Dr. Rieder, checks a lot of the boxes you want in a sensitive skin-friendly retinol. There are irritation-curbing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides and it’s fragrance-free and non-comedogenic (it won’t clog your pores). It goes even further by using encapsulated retinol, which may also be less irritating to sensitive skin.

Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer

Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer

Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer

This fragrance-free night cream is rich and ultra-moisturizing, which would make it a great night cream in general, but it also contains retinol, so it really goes above and beyond. Instead of using a separate retinol serum and moisturizer, which could have the potential for irritation, this combines both into one to be effective for even sensitive skin.

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Given how gentle this retinol serum is, its efficacy is shocking. It could be because, even though there is a relatively small concentration of retinol, it’s paired with retinol “alternatives” (aka ingredients that act similarly to retinol) like bakuchiol and arophia. The type of retinol in the formula makes a difference, too. This is microencapsulated, which penetrates your skin quicker and is less likely to cause irritation.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum

This effective retinol serum is specifically designed for first time retinol users and those with sensitive skin. It features microencapsulated retinol that’s delivered in a small, precise dose that maximized results while minimizing potential irritation. The formula is also packed with peptides, ceramides and niacinamide to help soothe skin even more.

Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

This richly moisturizing fragrance-free night cream not only has skin barrier-boosting ingredients like niacinamide and dipeptide, but where it really shines is the retinol. It features what the brand calls “Retinol Tri-Active Technology” meaning it’s a mix of fast acting retinol, time-released retinol and a retinol “booster,” the combination of which is designed to curb irritation while simultaneously increasing efficacy.

Ursa Major Lunar Bloom Retinal Serum

Lunar Bloom Retinal Serum

Ursa Major Lunar Bloom Retinal Serum

The ultra gentle retinal in this formula (remember the “a”) is hyper effective at smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, but the plant extracts and ceramides in this naturally-based formula work behind the scenes to soothe potential irritation and nourish skin overnight.

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Perfectly Dosed Retinol Universal 0.2%

Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Perfectly Dosed Retinol Universal 0.2%

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Perfectly Dosed Retinol Universal 0.2%

What’s great about these single-use pads isn’t just that the low dose of retinol is combined with bakuchiol and rambutan, both of which are considered retinol alternatives, but also that they’re perfectly dosed out so you don’t have to worry about applying too much. Swipe a pad over your face and call it a night.

Watch Next
 
preview for HDM All sections playlist - Esquire

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Advertisement – Continue Reading Below

Read the full article here

Shares:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *