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Best Over The Counter Retinol Products

Our Favorite Over The Counter Retinol Products That Really Work:


For most women, as get older finding the best skin care products to fight the signs of aging becomes more and more of a priority.   Dermatologists will tell you that Retinol is the gold standard of ingredients when it comes to what to look for in anti-aging products.  Retinol has been shown to be the most effective to address a number of skin concerns including acne and reversing signs of aging. 


The problem is that there are a ton of retinol skin care products on the market that claim to work miracles on your skin.   With so many products on the market it can be a daunting task to try to find the most effective products to meet you particular skin care needs.  


If you go to a Dermatologist you can get prescription grade Retinoid creams that contain higher concentrations of Retinol than over the counter products, and can have very dramatic effects on your skin.  Prescription products like Retin-A are often to prescribed to patients who suffer from acne or skin discoloration.  


Although prescription strength Retinoid products ultimately are the most effective products available,  there are many over the counter options of products containing Retinol.  While clinical grade products prescribed by a doctor can contain up to 2% Retinol, the over the counter options usually have less than 1% retinol but can still be very effective at reducing signs of aging and skin clearing benefits.  


Retinoid based skin care products have a multitude of skin care benefits including, stopping development of new wrinkles, smoothing surface wrinkles, improves skin tone and also clears up acne and helps diminish redness and acne scars.


There are a number of really good over the counter options for skin care creams that contain Retinol in them, and they tend to be less irritating than the prescription grade products.  So, if you are new to using Retinol products, these products may the way to go when you are just starting out on your anti-aging skin care crusade.






Differin Gel 

0.1% Prescription Strength Retinoid Acne Treatment


Differin was developed primarily to treat acne, however, because of the keratolytic action in retinoids, it also has added benefits of being an amazing anti-aging product.  As well as treating acne and acne scars, it also evens skin tone and makes skin softer and smoother. 

This gel has one the highest concentration of retinol you can get in an over the counter product so it can be quite intense for first time retinol product users.

The way it works is by getting rid of dead skin cells and speeding up the rate at which your skin regenerates.  The type of Retinol in Differin is called Adapalene.  This type of retinol improves skin in a number if way including refining skin texture and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles. 


It also improves skin that has been damaged by the sun as well as fading out age spots or other discolorations.   It really is a wonder product, though it should be used sparingly and slowly at first as it can cause redness, burning and irritation to skin that is not used to retinol.   Another side effect of retinol based products is an increase in sensitivity to the sun - so wearing sunscreen all the time is a must when using this product.


Available on Amazon for about $12.00







Avene Retrinal 0.1% Intensive Cream 



Avene RetrinAL Intensive Cream gets rave reviews on it's ability to visibly reduce signs of aging, brightens skin tone and improves skin texture. 


It is loaded with a powerful anti-oxidant and ingredients designed to
plump up skin and have overall anti-aging benefits.


The best thing about this product is that it an anti-aging cream that also rejuvenates skin without causing irritation.  It's fairly moisturizing for a Retinol based serum, and it is loaded with anti-oxidants.  It also has Avene's signature ingredient called Avene Thermal Spring which helps soothe, calm and soften the skin and reduce inflammation. 


It  will cost you a pretty penny, but lasts for a long time, and is very effective with regular use.


Available for $70 at DermStore








Cera Ve Retinol Renewing Serum


One of the least expensive and most beloved products you can purchase over the counter, Cera Ve Skin Renewing Serum is great for getting the most for your money.


It's called a serum, but the texture is more like a moisturizing lotion.  It's fragrance free which is great for sensitive skin types, and since the retinol complex in this product has a more controlled release into the skin it reduces the amount  
of initial irritation and redness that can sometimes happen when you first start using a retinol based product. 


Overall, Cera Ve Retinol Renewing Serum is a great buy since it's only $14 and available just about anywhere.  It's perfect for everyday use while still getting some great anti-benefits.  



Available at Target for $14.00







Dr. Brandt 2% Retinol Complex



The name of the product makes it seem like the retinol content is really high, but it really contains less than 1% of retinol.  It's a "retinol complex", which basically means that it's retinol combined with other anti-aging ingredients.

That being said, this serum is a very effective product for improving skin texture over time.  It brightens dull skin, and helps reduce redness, as well as softening the appearance of surface wrinkles, and reduces the visibility of pores.


It does contain a lavender scented fragrance which, although smells really nice, it can irritate skin if your skin is very sensitive.


Dr. Brandt is one of those anti-aging brands that uses very high quality and effective ingredients so the price is worth it if you want fast results.


Available at Sephora for $69.00







Paula’s Choice Resist 1% Retinol Booster


Paula's Choice is a favorite mentioned by beauty bloggers and skin care experts as being one of the most effective over the counter retinol products on the market.


If you have issues with skin discoloration, wrinkles, fine lines, 
dark spots or breakouts this might be just the product you are looking for.

This product contains a combination of potent antioxidants, extracts and a just-right amount of retinol, 
to get results in improving skin texture, reduce fine lines, clear acne, as well as reducing the look of acne scars and redness.


It has a creamy lotion texture, and is 100% fragrance free.


Reviews of this product boast its age-defying benefits.  It can also fill and firm skin, boost cell regeneration, stimulate collagen production, refine pore size and even out skin tone.  So, if you really have a lot of skin issues to address this product is worth the $52 price tag.


Available at Amazon for $52.00







Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream



Murad's Retinol Cream is a very lightweight night cream that is great for improving the overall look of your skin over time. 


Most people notice a big difference after about 2 or 3 weeks of use.


It's great for skin types that suffer from redness or rough skin texture as it is very effective in reducing redness, and it also improves skin texture and softness.  


This award winning night cream is loaded with peptide-rich Red Algae Extract which sinks into your skin to give you an does the work of smoothing and nourishing your skin while you sleep at night.   You can purchase it on their website, or you may be able to find it at your local Sephora, as Murad is one of their most popular skin care brands.



Available for $82.00  at







Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum



This serum is a great option for getting a fairly effective retinol product on a budget.


At only $20 from stores like CVS or Target, this product is a great deal. 


It works great on reducing fine lines and wrinkles like crow's feet around the eyes. 

It can irritate and create some temporary redness on very sensitive skin, so be sure to use it sparingly to start with.





Available at Target for $16.99





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