Cosmetic Flaws

The 5 Best Retinol Creams in 2021

Retinol is one of the best and most powerful skincare ingredients because it can regulate skin oil, cleanse skin pores, prevent breakouts, and make the skin smoother.
It is one of the derivatives of vitamin A that can exfoliate deeply to give you a bright and smooth look. Long-term use of retinol creams improves skin texture, reduces dark spots, and eliminates hyperpigmentation.

Many retinol creams and serums are available on the market and they vary in their combinations either to enhance or balance the effects of retinol.
Retinol is available as a prescription medication for serious skin conditions. The OTC retinol creams also work, but they take a longer time. Studies suggest that OTC retinol products give the same effects, even if the product is weak. (1)

In this article, we will discuss the best 5 retinol creams on the market nowadays to help you choose the best for your skin type.

Read our in-depth article on what crow’s feet wrinkles are; their causes, prevention and surgical treatment here.

4.2/5 Rating;
Editor's Pick

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream

3.3/5 Rating; Budget Option.

RoC Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

1. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream

$27 USD on Amazon

Value For Money


  • Affordable
  • Contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid
  • SPF 30


  • Not as potent retinol content as other options
  • Takes a longer time to see results

Oily skin types are prone to acne more than other skin types. People think that they should avoid hydration to cure acne, which is not true. Dehydration will make your skin produce more oil, which will make acne breakouts worse.

Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream contains hyaluronic acid. It is added to balance the effects of retinol and works as a lightweight moisturizer.
Hyaluronic acid increases skin moisture and diminishes fine lines and wrinkles. Also, it makes skin firmer and soothes redness. Along with retinol, it is considered a perfect combination for acne-prone skin types. (2, 3)

Neutrogena’s Rapid Wrinkle Repair Regenerating Cream is SPF 30, which is effective in reducing wrinkles and protecting against sunlight.
Most users are satisfied with it but you should avoid using it near the eye areas since it can cause burns. Also, it might not work for you if your skin is super sensitive.

2. SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

$103 USD on Amazon

Value For Money


  • Strong OTC retinol
  • Contains soothing ingredients
  • Air-tight packaging


  • Can be irritating for more sensitive skin types

If your skin is dull and rough, it is time to give SkinActive Clearly Brighter Face Moisturizer a try. This moisturizer will make your skin smooth, firm, and radiant.

The formula of this face moisturizer is incredible. It contains vitamins C and E, Lipo-Hydroxyl Acid (LHA), and Pink Bark Essence. They work as powerful antioxidants.
Vitamin C maintains skin health, decreases the synthesis of melanin, and enhances keratinocyte differentiation. This promotes protection against sun damage. (9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
Vitamin E is essential for retinol regulation. Retinol is one of the most important components for skin health. Also, vitamin E improves skin texture and promotes the healing process. Vitamin E can fight free radicals related to the sun, cigarette smoking, and pollution. (14, 15)
LHA is a powerful exfoliation ingredient. It can dissolve in oils, lipids, and fats, which means it is suitable for oily skin. (16, 17)
The active ingredients in SkinActive are Avobenzone (3%), Octisalate (5%), and Octocrylene (5%). They are powerful, protective sunscreens.

It is absorbed fast. Also, the formula is non-greasy. The results are fast and guaranteed. Within 1 week, your skin will be brighter, and your skin texture will improve significantly.

3. StriVectin-AR Advanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer


$112 USD on Amazon

Value For Money


  • Hydrating
  • Works to minimize retinol sensitivity
  • Cruelty-free


  • Shea butter is too heavy a hydrator for oily skin
  • Expensive

StriVectinAdvanced Retinol Intensive Night Moisturizer is a good option if you want an effective OTC retinol that works as a hydrating moisturizer as well.

StriVectin claims that the secret key of this product is the patented Nia-114 technology that decreases the sensitivity of some skin types to retinol.
The cream has a great blend of ingredients including hyaluronic acid, which hydrates and soothes the skin, shea butter, which is also a good hydrating agent (6), copper tripeptides, which enhances collagen production (7), and resveratrol, which prevents any free radical damages (8). The product is designed for all skin types, but it is supposed to be great for dry skin.

On the other hand, some people say it is expensive for the results.
A customer on Amazon says:

Used this product for over a month now. My skin is soft, but it brought all impurities to the surface. This is great but I would have like to know that ahead of time to be sure I did not have any events soon after purchase. Like the texture but feel it is very expensive for the results I got.

4. LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream for Face

$23 USD on Amazon

Value For Money


  • Easy to apply,
  • Hydrates fast


  • Does not have significant effects on aging signs
  • No long-term effects.

LilyAna Naturals Retinol Cream may be a good option if you want to get extra hydration for your skin. LilyAna claims that after a few days, you will see actual results.

Many active ingredients in LilyAna reduce aging signs and hydrate skin deeply including vitamin E, green tea, and hyaluronic acid.
The polyphenols in green tea fight aging signs and reduce under-eye puffiness (9).
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that makes skin more youthful. It also prevents free radical damages (10).

Most users are satisfied with how it makes them feel. However, the results are not promising. It may not have a great impact on wrinkles, fine lines, or other aging signs.

5. RoC Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream

$20 USD on Amazon

Value For Money


  • Paraben-free
  • Non-comedogenic
  • Affordable


  • Might not work for some people
  • No definite percentage of retinol

Our last choice on this list is RoC Deep Wrinkle Anti-Aging Night Cream. RoC is the first brand to create retinol products. After years on the market, this cream is still on the top list of the best retinol creams.
There are no definite percentages of retinol in RoC creams. It can be from 0.1% to 1% so choose the best cream for your skin type.

RoC contains many active ingredients such as glycerin, which is great as a hydrating agent (11), ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which prevents free radical damages and increases collagen production (12), and citric acid protects against antioxidants and works as an exfoliating agent (13).

Overall, it is a good product if you are looking for a non-expensive retinol cream. The results are not guaranteed though.


  1. Draelos ZD, Peterson RS. A Double-Blind, Comparative Clinical Study of Newly Formulated Retinol Serums vs Tretinoin Cream in Escalating Doses: A Method for Rapid Retinization With Minimized Irritation. J Drugs Dermatol. 2020 Jun 1;19(6):625-631. doi: 10.36849/JDD.2020.10.36849/JDD.2020.5085. PMID: 32574009.
  2. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):253-258. doi:10.4161/derm.21923
  3. Bukhari SNA, Roswandi NL, Waqas M, Habib H, Hussain F, Khan S, Sohail M, Ramli NA, Thu HE, Hussain Z. Hyaluronic acid, a promising skin rejuvenating biomedicine: A review of recent updates and pre-clinical and clinical investigations on cosmetic and nutricosmetic effects. Int J Biol Macromol. 2018 Dec;120(Pt B):1682-1695. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2018.09.188. Epub 2018 Oct 1. PMID: 30287361.
  4. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with bright future. Mol Med Rep. 2010;3(6):895-901. doi:10.3892/mmr.2010.377
  5. Rügge SD, Nielsen M, Jacobsen AS, Vang O, Jemec GB. Evidens for kamilleomslag [Evidence of dermatological effects of chamomile]. Ugeskr Laeger. 2010 Dec 13;172(50):3492-6. Danish. PMID: 21156115.
  6. Nisbet SJ. Skin acceptability of a cosmetic moisturizer formulation in female subjects with sensitive skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2018;11:213-217. Published 2018 Apr 30. doi:10.2147/CCID.S157297
  7. Hostynek JJ, Dreher F, Maibach HI. Human skin penetration of a copper tripeptide in vitro as a function of skin layer [published correction appears in Inflamm Res. 2011 Jun;60(6):611]. Inflamm Res. 2011;60(1):79-86. doi:10.1007/s00011-010-0238-9
  8. Boo YC. Human Skin Lightening Efficacy of Resveratrol and Its Analogs: From in Vitro Studies to Cosmetic Applications. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(9):332. Published 2019 Aug 22. doi:10.3390/antiox8090332
  9. OyetakinWhite P, Tribout H, Baron E. Protective mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in skin. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2012;2012:560682. doi:10.1155/2012/560682
  10. Nachbar F, Korting HC. The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin. J Mol Med (Berl). 1995 Jan;73(1):7-17. doi: 10.1007/BF00203614. PMID: 7633944.
  11. Milani M, Sparavigna A. The 24-hour skin hydration and barrier function effects of a hyaluronic 1%, glycerin 5%, and Centella asiatica stem cells extract moisturizing fluid: an intra-subject, randomized, assessor-blinded study. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2017;10:311-315. Published 2017 Aug 11. doi:10.2147/CCID.S144180
  12. Al-Niaimi F, Chiang NYZ. Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2017;10(7):14-17.
  13. Bernstein EF, Underhill CB, Lakkakorpi J, Ditre CM, Uitto J, Yu RJ, Scott EV. Citric acid increases viable epidermal thickness and glycosaminoglycan content of sun-damaged skin. Dermatol Surg. 1997 Aug;23(8):689-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.1997.tb00391.x. PMID: 9256916.
Dr Khaled Mahmoud

Dr Khaled Mahmoud

A medical researcher with more than 5 years of professional academic and medical writing experience. My main goal is to provide readers with evidence-based, data-driven, detail-oriented content to help them make the best choices.

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