Face Creams Containing Retinol

repinanatoly/iStock/Getty Images

Although retinol is no fountain of youth, it may be the next best thing since it offers a variety of beautiful benefits. Adding a retinol-based face cream to your beauty routine can give you smoother, younger-looking skin and a clearer complexion. Even though your skin may become more sensitive, particularly to sun exposure, creams with retinol cause far less irritation than formulas made with stronger, harsher ingredients.

Information About Retinol

Navigating the world of anti-aging face creams can be a bit confusing, particularly since two of the leading ingredients sound nearly the same. Retinoic acid, which is the active age-fighting ingredient in prescription formulas, is the stronger relative of retinol, which is found in over-the-counter face creams. Both are derived from vitamin A, although retinoic acid is more powerful. The good news, however, is that retinol is less irritating to the skin while essentially achieving the same results -- the only difference is the amount of time it may take to see improvement.

Benefits of Using Retinol

Using a face cream that contains retinol, a pure form of vitamin A, promotes faster renewal of skin cells and exfoliation of dead cells. It also helps smooth your skin by boosting its natural production of collagen, which keeps your skin firm. Additionally, it works to control acne by reducing the production of oil, which also helps make your pores look smaller.

Choosing a Retinol Face Cream

When you're shopping for a face cream, look for formulas with at least 1 percent retinol to see significant effects. Better yet, look for one that contains 2 percent retinol, which is the maximum amount allowed in over-the-counter formulas. Be sure to read the fine print on the packaging since some over-the-counter products that list retinol as a key ingredient may contain only trace amounts.

Using Retinol Face Cream

You can start using retinol face creams as early as your teenage years since it helps control acne in addition to minimizing fine lines. Although the skin around your eyes is very sensitive, it's not any more likely to experience side effects from retinol than other areas of your face. The eye area typically responds well to retinol applications, and some manufacturers have eye-specific formulas to address this delicate area's needs. Apply the eye or face cream to clean skin in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions; since retinol can increase sun sensitivity, most suggest applying the product at night.


Don’t expect to see immediate results. It usually takes at least 12 weeks to start seeing any changes in your skin. Additionally, be aware that experiencing mild irritation, including light peeling, dryness and flushing, is normal. With mild irritation, continue using the product. If it becomes uncomfortable or continues for a long time, you might need to switch to a cream that contains less retinol. If you have a skin condition such as rosacea, check with your dermatologist before using face cream with retinol to avoid exacerbating your condition.