How to choose the best Retinol Cream?

My team and I would like to welcome you to our page and hope it'd help you acquire valuable knowledge. If you’ve ended up on this page, it means you’re either interested to learn more about Retinol creams/serums, or you’d like to find out what are some of the best anti-aging creams out there on the market!

As skincare enthusiasts, we try to find great products for personal use. We then, share the outcome with our audiences and present them with five to ten options, that we would personally vouch for.

When we grade a product, we take several factors into consideration:
  • The ingredients and their percentages.
  • Quality of the product (free of toxins, additives, etc.).
  • Customer Reviews (and we combine these with our personal experiences).
  • How effective the product is.
  • Customer service offered by the company, and yes this is important because not every skincare product works on everyone, so if you need to return it, you obviously don’t want to deal with a company that has horrible customer service and won’t adhere to their promises.

We also take a close look to see if these products are cruelty-free (not tested on animals) because who in their right mind would test skincare products on animals?

First, let's take a look at what basic characteristics an ideal Retinol Cream should have:
  • It is ideal if the Retinol is "Encapsulated". Encapsulated retinol is more stable and efficacious, having the ease of traveling and targeting the skin cells where it is most beneficial.
  • Best to have "Ceramides". Ceramides are used to replenish the natural lipids that are lost from exposure to harsh environmental factors, use of drying products and during the natural aging process.
  • Should contain moisturizing components, such as natural oils of any kind
  • It needs to have 0.5 to 1.0 percent Retinol to be considered an effective retinol cream/serum
  • Has to be Paraben-free and contain no colorants or fragrances in order to protect the efficacy of the Retinol.
We know you’re excited to see which Retinol cream are worthy of our list, so without further delay, we’d like to reveal our top 5 Retinol creams:

#1 Rated: BioBare™

Skin REVIVIFY™ Encapsulated 0.5% Retinol Cream

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Customer Rating: 9.62/10 (638 Votes)

Positives:

     
  • 0.5% pure retinol.
  •  
  • Does not contain Parabens, colorants or fragrances.
  •  
  • Contains natural oils & Ceramides.
  •  
  • Packaged in a special airless jar, to protect the potency of the cream for a very long time.
  •  
  • Hypoallergenic, effective for all skin types.
  •  
  • Cruelty-free and made in the USA in an ISO 22716 certified, cGMP accredited and FDA-Registered facility.
  •  
  • Priced affordably compared to other effective retinol creams.
  •  
  • 30-Day money back guarantee, combined with excellent customer service.

Negatives:

     
  • ​​​​Sells Out quickly (We had to figure this one out, so we contacted the company and they stated: “It’s mainly due to high demand, but also, due to our commitment to providing fresh batch of products to our customers.” ).
  •  
  • ​​​​Not available in stores (only online).
  •  
  • No subscription programs offered.

Analysis

Loaded with all the ingredients for an ideal Retinol cream, and then some, BioBare offers the most effective Retinol cream that we’ve personally tried out. Consisting of 0.5% encapsulated retinol that sets it apart from all other products in this category. Encapsulated retinol works similarly to regular retinol, however it delivers its powers into skin a little differently. Encapsulated retinol has been housed in a carrier system to protect its integrity and improve its ability to penetrate into the skin effectively!

We really appreciate that BioBare has enriched their cream with the powerful combination of super natural oils, providing extra moisture that lasts all day long. The super rich moisturizing ingredients such as Jojoba Seed Oil, Squalane, Safflower Seed Oil & Hydrolyzed Coconut Oil.

This retinol cream also contains Ceramide-3. Ceramides restore moisture, reinforce the skin's natural barrier and help protect it against harm from foreign elements. This is powerful ingredient to fight aging.

In addition to being produced by one of the leading skin-care manufacturers in the U.S., we’d like to point out that this retinol cream is rich in plant-based and natural ingredients.

The BioBare™ Skin REVIVIFY™ Encapsulated retinol cream is the most complete and advanced formula on the market. Considering it contains all the essential skin care ingredients, at $59 a jar, you get a big bang for your buck!

Note:

As a result of our research, BioBare's Encapsulated retinol cream was determined to be the top retinol cream available, not only for producing superior results, but also because it is affordable, long-lasting, and contains the highest-quality natural ingredients available. 

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#2 Rated: SkinCeuticals

Retinol 0.5

Our Rating: 8.0/10

Customer Rating: 71%

Positives:

     
  • 0.5% pure retinol.
  •  
  • Does not contain Paraben or additives
  •  
  • Protects against atmospheric aging
  •  
  • The second highest success rate
  •  
  • Suitable for normal, dry, and combination skin
  •  
  • They offer free samples with product purchases
  •  
  • Made in the USA

Negatives:

     
  • ​​​​Questionable claims of minimizing breakouts
  •  
  • ​​​​Not encapsulated form of retinol
  •  
  • Counterfeit Products Sold on Internet
  •  
  • Not suitable for all skin types especially for dry and sensitive skin
  •  
  • Expensive at $76.00 USD

Analysis

Marketed as "A concentrated night cream with pure retinol improves the appearance of visible signs of aging and pores while minimizing breakouts."

The cream is suitable for Normal, Oily & Combination skin types. And is not suitable for dry and dehydrated skin. This cream contains skin-calming blend of bisabolol which is derived from the chamomile plant, that provides soothing benefits and helps comfort the skin.

By digging a little deeper to find out more about how effective this cream is to fight breakouts, we found there is no further information to back their claim.

Examining this retinol cream's ingredients, we found the product to contain "Alcohol Denat". This could be a component to fight breakouts, however this ingredient can be irritating to the skin and even strain your skin's normal functions— especially if listed within the first five or six ingredients of a product(true in our case).

Our review team was also very surprised to learn that there appear to be several imposters or “knock-off” SkinCeuticals products on the market.  Several user reviews claim to have received products that appear to be spoiled or different in color from the original; more concerning were several reviews indicating that theses imposter products have caused users facial discomfort and have even caused breakouts. 

The presence of counterfeit products sold on retail sites other than SkinCeutical’s web page appears to be confirmed by the company’s disclaimer warning potential customers that counterfeit SkinCeuticals' products have been found on unauthorized retailer websites and are, in their own words,  “almost impossible to distinguish real from fake” and “ensure your SkinCeuticals' products are authentic by purchasing through an authorized retailer.” 

Available for $76.00 per fl oz, SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 cream is expensive and was ranked second in our review of the best retinol creams.

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#3 Rated: Murad®

Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Our Rating: 7.0/10

Customer Rating: 63%

Positives:

     
  • Contains Red Algae extract
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  • Safe packaging to protect the potency of the product
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  • Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Gluten Free
  •  
  • Reputable company

Negatives:

     
  • Contains Propylene Carbonate toxic ingredient
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  • Not encapsulated retinol form
  •  
  • Contains synthetic fragrance
  •  
  • Long list of ingredients many of them synthetic
  •  
  • Expensive compared to more effective and safe products

Analysis

Described as a breakthrough Retinol Tri-Active Technology, delivers transformative results to visibly minimize lines and wrinkles and help smooth skin's texture. 

Marad® Skin Care has been one of the most popular skincare production companies, however we are not so impressed with the endless list of ingredients for this product. We appreciate the presence of Peptide-rich red algae extract as an active ingredient but the presence of "Propylene Carbonate" in the ingredients ruins the appeal of the product. Propylene Carbonate is a toxic ingredient that is considered skin and eye irritant. This ingredient alone, makes the product less appealing and a risk to use the cream if you have a sensitive skin.

Of primary concern to our review team is a large number of synthetic ingredients contained in Murad® Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream. Examining the ingredients, we were surprised to see the product has a total of 58 ingredients, many of them synthetic.​

Available for $82.00 USD, Murad® Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream is among the expensive creams in our review.

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#4 Rated: DRUNK ELEPHANT™

A-Passioni™ Retinol Cream

Our Rating: 6.5/10

Customer Rating: 55%

Positives:

     
  • Contains marula seed oil
  •  
  • Overall great product
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  • Silicone, SLS and fragrance free
  •  
  • Reputable company

Negatives:

     
  • 1.0% Retinol is too strong for everyone
  •  
  • Not suitable for all skin types
  •  
  • Skin dryness and irritation reported from customers
  •  
  • Questionable Results and Effectiveness

Analysis

Advertised as a Retinol reimagined. A-Passioni™ Retinol Cream is a clean, cutting-edge formula that combines 1.0% vegan retinol with nourishing, superfood-rich ingredients to dramatically diminish the appearance of fine lines, deep wrinkles and sun damage revealing a vibrant, younger-looking complexion.

We're impressed how fast this company grows and becomes one of the most popular skin care companies out there. The great mixture of natural ingredients and powerful synthetics their products are beginning to get more recognition. Our concern about this product is that the company hides the toxic synthetics under "superfood-rich" ingredients. The product contains a very long list of ingredients that are not natural and some of them are considered toxic.

There is no indication of the retinol to be encapsulated and we wonder how potent the cream can be! With all the natural and effective ingredients used in the product we think the 1.0% retinol is too strong for everyone and everyday use. 0.3% and 0.5% retinol is where you should start and gradually add to the concentration of the retinol.

Adding to our researchers’ concern was the customers complains about dry and irritated skin after the first application. The company recommended users to slow down on the cream and only apply it once or twice a week until you're skin gets used to the retinoid.

User reviews reveal further concerns which are described as “really hard to take a pea-sized amount from the tube. A lot of cream gets wasted...”, “when I use it I have skin coming off in chunks the next day, kind of like peeling after a sunburn”, “did not notice a difference in my skin and also made me breakout”.

Available for $74.00 USD 1 fl oz, DRUNK ELEPHANT™ A-Passioni™ Retinol Cream, is relatively affordable, but one of the lower ranked products we reviewed.

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#5 Rated: OBagi® Medical

Retinol 0.5

Our Rating: 6.0/10

Customer Rating: 49%

Positives:

     
  • Less expensive compared to the 2nd, 3rd & 4th retinol creams listed
  •  
  • Widely Available On-Line or in Specific Retail Stores
  •  
  • Designed for All Skin Types

Negatives:

     
  • Long list of ingredients
  •  
  • No enough information provided on the website
  •  
  • Lowest Customer Satisfaction Rate
  •  
  • Long-term Results Not So Impressive

Analysis

With our review showing a customer satisfaction rate of 49%, Obagi’s Medical Retinol 0.5 is our lowest ranked retinol cream.  Promoting its product as the “Medical”, Obagi’s website states “Obagi’s 0.5% retinol as"an ideal product to introduce your skin to retinol treatments. A lower concentration of 0.5% retinol boosts cell turnover to minimize acne, fine lines and wrinkles while diminishing hyperpigmentation." 

As to our surprise the products are not directly available on company's website to purchase. The products are only available through 3-rd party sites. There's no enough information provided about the products not on their website nor on 3-rd party websites.

With the lowest customer approval rating, and considering a large number of questionable reviews, our review team questioned if the product’s effectiveness is actually worth the cost of the product.

Available for $62.00 for 1 fl oz, Obagi Medical Retinol 0.5 was the  lowest rated product in this review.

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Product Ranking Table

*Results May Vary

Swipe Left To See The Full Rank Table <<

Rank Product Summary Power Speed of Results Long Term Results Customer Satisfaction Overall Rating
#1
BioBare™
  • 0.5% pure retinol.
  • Does not contain Parabens, colorants or fragrances
  • Contains natural oils & Ceramides.
  • Packaged in a special airless jar, to protect the potency of the cream for a very long time.
  • Hypoallergenic, effective for all skin types
  • Hormone-Free, Cruelty Free & Made in USA
  • Can Only Be Purchased Online
  • Sells out Quickly
9.5/10 9/10 9.5/10 96%
9.5/10
#2
SkinCeuticals
  • 0.5% pure retinol
  • Does not contain Paraben or additives
  • The second highest success rate
  • Suitable for normal, dry, and combination skin
  • Paraben-Free, Made in the USA
  • Questionable claims of minimizing breakouts
  • Not encapsulated form of retinol
  • Counterfeit Products Sold on Internet
  • Not suitable for all skin types especially for dry and sensitive skin
8/10 7/10 8.5/10 71%
8.0/10
#3
Murad®
  • Contains Red Algae extract
  • CSafe packaging to protect the potency of the product
  • Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, Gluten Free
  • Reputable company
  • Contains Propylene Carbonate toxic ingredient
  • Not encapsulated form of retinol
  • Contains synthetic fragrance
7/10 7.5/10 7/10 63%
7.0/10
#4
DRUNK ELEPHANT™
  • Contains marula seed oil
  • Overall great product
  • Silicone, SLS and fragrance free
  • 1.0% Retinol is too strong for everyone
  • Not suitable for all skin types
  • Skin dryness and irritation reported from customers
6.5/10 5.5/10 7.5/10 55%
6.5/10
#5
OBagi®
  • Less expensive compared to the 2nd, 3rd & 4th retinol creams listed
  • Widely Available On-Line or in Specific Retail Stores
  • Designed for All Skin Types
  • Reputable Company
  • Long list of ingredients
  • No enough information provided on the website
  • Lowest Customer Satisfaction Rate
  • Long-term Results Not So Impressive
6.5/10 6.5/10 6/10 57%
6.0/10