If you haven’t heard yet that Retinol is a powerful anti-aging ingredient, you must live under a rock! Retinol causes cellular renewal and repair and can therefore improve fine lines, deep wrinkles, dark spots and more! Today I have the best Retinol serums for you. However, it depends on your skin type which serum is the best for you. If you have sensitive skin, you should maybe not reach for the strongest Retinol product out there. 

You might be confused what the difference between Retinol and a Retinoid is- as they are often used interchangeable. Retinoid is basically just the umbrella term. All Retinoids (including Retinol) are a form of Vitamin A. 

Did you know: the more steps the Retinoid needs to convert to retinoic acid (the active form of Vitamin A), the weaker the Retinoid! 

Here are the best Retinoids, starting with the weakest and ending with the strongest! Remember: “weak” does not mean it does not work! It might be actually the best product for you, if you have very sensitive skin and it will still work! The process might just take a little longer but it will still be effective!

All Retinoids can cause dryness, flakiness, redness and stinging, especially during the first few months of treatment. 

1. Retinol Esters (WEAKEST)

Retinol Esters need three steps to convert into retinoid acid and are therefore best suited for very sensitive skin or for people that are just trying to start a Retinol product for the first time. Look out for the ingredients: retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate, retinyl acetate or retinyl linoleate.

Derma E Anti-Aging Regenerative Retinol Serum // Ulta //Amazon

2. Retinol (MODERATE)

Retinol needs only two steps to convert into Retinoic Acid and is therefore much stronger than Retinol Esters. This is great for normal skin that is not very sensitive and if you want stronger results.

RoC Retinol Correxion Retinol Face Serum, Gentle Anti-Wrinkle + Firming Treatment
 //Ulta //Amazon

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum //Ulta // Amazon

3. Retinaldehyde (ADVANCED)

Retinaldehyde is directly (one step) converted into active Vitamin A by our skin. This converts 11x faster than Retinol! If your skin has adjusted for a longer time period to a Retinol product (at least many weeks or months), you may try to step up your game with Retinaldehyde. 

Avène Professional TriAcneal Night Smoothing Lotion // Skinstore

4. Retinoic Acid Esters (ADVANCED)

Retinoic Acid Esters breaks down into retinoic acid and retinol, making it active within one step. This is still a pretty new and very promising ingredient (look out for: retinyl retinoate or hydroxypinacolone retinoate). May also rather be used by someone with normal skin that is used to a Retinol product. 

The OrdinaryGranactive Retinoid* 2% Emulsion //Sephora// Amazon

5. Adapalene (ADVANCED)

The over-the-counter available Retinoid is immediately active and does not need to be converted. Best for someone with normal skin who has tried Retinol without complications. Personally, I have tried this out and here are my thoughts how Adapalene compares to Tretinoin.

Differin Gel Adapalene Gel 0.1% //Ulta //Amazon

6. Tretinoin /also called: Retin-A (STRONGEST)

You need a prescription for Tretinoin. This is PURE retinoic acid and immediately active. It is about 20x more potent than retinol. Use with caution! This is very strong! Read how to start Retin-A without irritation, flaking and redness or sensitivity. I use currently Tretinoin about once a week. 

And there you have it! The best retinol serums for every skin type!

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