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Retinol is incredibly effective, but it can be hard to find a retinol product that is suitable for those with dry skin. Below, we’ve created a guide to the best retinols for dry skin.
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 over-the-counter anti-aging retinol contains retinaldehyde, a potent retinoid, as well as other ingredients that help minimize the appearance of wrinkles, plump the skin, and protect against free radicals for a youthful complexion.
Skin types: Normal, Oily, Dry and Combination
Best for: Fighting the Signs of Aging
Tested on animals:
How to use: At night, after cleansing and drying the skin, apply to the face, neck, and chest. Follow up with a moisturizer.
The star ingredient of this over-the-counter, fragrance-free retinol treatment is retinaldehyde. This kind of retinoid is one of the strongest that you can get without a prescription, and it has been proven to stimulate collagen production, smooth the appearance of wrinkles, and brighten skin tone. It also contains peptides that help plump the skin.
Formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions
Contains color additives
May cause irritation (especially for those new to using retinoids)
In addition to the peptides and retinaldehyde, this anti-aging treatment cream contains vitamin E, an antioxidant, as well as Avène thermal spring water, which is meant to soothe and soften the skin.
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.
Yes, people with dry skin can use retinol. Since retinol can cause dryness and irritation, everyone (regardless of skin type) should slowly work it into their skincare routine to allow their skin to adjust. People with dry skin may want to work up to applying their retinol two to three times per week. Be sure to also always apply a moisturizer after applying your retinol product. If you find that retinol is causing too much dryness, you might consider applying a moisturizer first, and then following up with the retinol.
Is hyaluronic acid or retinol better for dry skin?
Hyaluronic acid and retinol are two skincare ingredients that serve different purposes. Hyaluronic acid attracts moisture to the skin and locks it in, while retinol fights signs of aging. People with dry skin can benefit from using both hyaluronic acid and retinol in their skincare routine, and these ingredients can be used at the same time. Many of the retinol products above contain hyaluronic acid.
Should you moisturize after retinol?
Yes, you should always apply a moisturizer after using a retinol. This is an essential step, because retinol is known to cause dryness and irritation, and a moisturizer will help counteract those effects. However, if you are using a moisturizing cream that contains retinol (like the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream), you don’t need to apply another moisturizer on top.
The Bottom Line
Retinol is an excellent skincare ingredient, and finding a product with retinol that works for your skin is great if you are looking to develop an anti-aging routine. If you have dry skin, consider using one of our recommended retinol products in your routine to help fight signs of aging.
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.