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Retinol is one of the most powerful skincare ingredients, and many are interested in adding it to their skincare routine. However, finding a retinol treatment that is budget-friendly isn’t always easy. Below, we’ve put together a list of the best affordable retinol products.
1. Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream
Neutrogena Retinol for Moisturization and Anti-Aging
This anti-aging moisturizer is a great way to add retinol to your routine, as the addition of moisturizing ingredients may help mitigate some of the irritation often associated with retinol. The cream contains retinol SA, which works to smooth lines and even skin tone. It also contains hyaluronic acid, which pulls moisture to the skin for healthy hydration levels.
May cause irritation
In addition to the hydrating benefits, hyaluronic acid has been shown to help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which makes this drugstore moisturizer even more effective for anti-aging. Even though the hydrating ingredients may mitigate the irritating effects of retinol, if you’re new to this skincare ingredient or have sensitive skin, you may want to start by using this cream every other day or every two days to see how your skin reacts.
This is an excellent choice for those looking for an affordable retinol. This fragrance-free retinol serum not only helps with acne scars and large pores, but it can also help fight signs of aging and brighten the skin.
Developed with dermatologists
May cause irritation or dryness
This non-comedogenic retinol serum also contains ceramides and niacinamide, which work to calm and restore the skin while maintaining its barrier. Additionally, this formula contains licorice root extract, which gives a brightening boost. That extra benefit may further help lighten discolored scars.
This is a cult-favorite The Ordinary product, and one of the best for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles without the irritation often associated with traditional retinol.
Skin types: All Skin Types
Best for: Anti-Aging
Tested on animals:
How to use: At night, after cleansing, apply the product to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
The unique, next-generation retinoid actives in this serum makes it one of the best The Ordinary products for those who want to use a retinol but are worried about irritation. Retinoids (vitamin A derivatives) are well-known for preventing and reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
Vegan and cruelty-free
Those with retinoid experience may prefer a stronger product
This product contains granactive retinoid, a complex of solubilized hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR). This form of retinoid offers anti-aging benefits without the irritation associated with retinol (which is also a vitamin A derivative). It also contains retinol that comes in a protective capsule to further prevent irritation, boost anti-aging benefits, and support the granactive retinoid.
Retinol is the gold-standard for minimizing wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation. Those who are experienced with retinoid products may prefer the Retinol 1% in Squalane over the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, as it is more potent. However, with the higher strength comes a higher risk of irritation, so it is best suited for those who’ve used retinoid products in their routine.
Vegan and cruelty-free
High likelihood of irritation, especially as skin adapts to the product
This serum contains squalane and jojoba oil, two ingredients that hydrate and soothe the skin. They may help minimize the irritation caused by the retinol.
Retinol is an incredibly effective ingredient for diminishing wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots. The addition of sodium hyaluronate and niacinamide make this a soothing, hydrating, and effective anti-aging product.
This serum contains a gradual release retinol, which slowly acts on the skin for maximum efficacy and better tolerance.
Retinol is the gold-standard for fighting signs of aging, so this is an excellent choice for those with wrinkles, fine lines, and sun spots. The addition of soothing and hydrating ingredients helps counteract some of the potential irritating side effects of retinol.
May irritate more sensitive skin types
This serum contains vitamin C, which brightens the skin, as well as licorice extract and oat extract, which soothe and calm redness.
While some may be able to use their retinol product of choice every night, using it this frequently may increase your risk of irritation and dryness. If you’re using retinol for the first time, it’s best to start slowly and only use it a few times a week. This will allow you to see how your skin reacts to the ingredient, and also gives your skin time to adjust. After a few weeks, you can start to increase your usage, if it seems suitable for your skin.
Is hyaluronic acid or retinol better?
Both hyaluronic acid and retinol are great skincare ingredients. They serve different purposes, so neither is better – it just depends on what your skin needs and what issue you are looking to address. Retinol helps minimize signs of aging, prevent breakouts, and improve skin tone and texture, while hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in for a well-hydrated complexion. Hyaluronic acid and retinol can be layered together, so you can get the benefits of both of these ingredients at the same time. You’ll find hyaluronic acid added to some of the retinol products we’ve listed above.
Does retinol make you age faster?
No, retinol does not make you age faster. In fact, it works by helping to minimize and prevent signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. When first starting using retinol, your skin may go through an adjustment period where it looks and feels drier, which may make signs of aging look more prevalent (particularly fine lines and wrinkles). This should subside within a few weeks as your skin adjusts to the new ingredient. It should also be noted that retinol makes the skin more photosensitive, so you should always wear sunscreen to combat the negative effects the sun has on the skin.
The Bottom Line
If you want to add retinol to your skincare routine, you can do so without breaking the bank. Our recommended retinol products are super effective, and available at affordable prices.
About the author
Kyra is a content writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She works in the health and wellness sphere, and covers everything from beauty to skincare to fitness. She has been passionate about skincare since she was a teenager, and loves uncovering the absolute best routines and products available to help people reach their skin goals.