Our editors independently research, and recommend the best products; learn more about our editorial policy. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links; learn more about how we make money.
If you’re looking for the perfect retinol product that works for your skin type, we have the guide for you. Here are our recommendations for the best retinol for oily skin.
1. Resurfacing Retinol Serum
CeraVe Retinol for Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores
CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum
This drugstore retinol serum is specifically formulated to tackle post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and large pores, and helps promote an overall even and clear complexion.
Skin types: Normal, Oily and Combination
Best for: Fading post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and minimizing large pores
Tested on animals:
How to use: After cleansing, apply a pump of the serum evenly all over the face, neck, and chest. Use once a day (or less frequently to prevent irritation).
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 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.
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 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 oily skin can greatly benefit from adding a retinol product to their skincare routine. This multi-tasking ingredient fights signs of aging (including fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots), promotes a more even skin tone, and clears and prevents breakouts. The key is finding a more lightweight formula that contains other ingredients that are suitable for oily skin.
What is the best retinol for oily, acne-prone skin?
Many of the products recommended above are suitable for oily skin that is prone to breakouts, but two particularly great options to consider are The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane and the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum.
What is the best drugstore retinol for oily skin?
If you are looking for a drugstore retinol product, a great option to check out is the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum. Alternatively, while not available at drugstores, another super affordable retinol product that is suitable for oily skin is The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.
The Bottom Line
Retinol is one of the most powerful, science-backed skincare ingredients out there, so adding a product with this ingredient to your routine can be incredibly beneficial. If you have oily skin, there are plenty of suitable retinol products that will work for you, but we consider these recommendations to be some of the absolute best.
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.