The Best Retinols for Sensitive Skin of 2023, Tested by Dermatologists and Beauty Editors

Is there anything retinol can’t do? Walk into a dermatologist's office and ask them about almost any skin concern you can think of, and chances are they'll talk to you about retinol. Retinol, a retinoid, a derivative of vitamin A, "is a rock star ingredient," says board-certified dermatologist David Kim, MD.


"It helps speed up cell turnover so you always have fresh skin cells." This increased cell turnover can help treat acne (and acne scars), dark spots and hyperpigmentation, reduced collagen production, and more.



However, if most things in life sound too good to be true, they probably are. The downside to retinol is that it can cause irritation, especially the first time you use it. This can be a recipe for disaster if you have sensitive skin to begin with, as retinol, an already irritating ingredient, can drive your skin crazy.



But all is not lost! Retinol can actually be used on sensitive skin, you just need to use the right product in the right way. Look for formulas that also contain hydrating and soothing ingredients to minimize irritation, dryness, and flaking.



Apply only at night, and apply sunscreen every day regardless of your skin type. "Retinol can cause sun sensitivity, so it's important to use sunscreen every day with (at least) SPF 30 and broad-spectrum UVA and UVB protection," says board-certified dermatologist Anthony Rossi, MD. Read on to learn what to choose from.


1. SkinMedica Anti-Aging Retinol Complex: The best part about this high-quality retinol lotion is not only that it also contains skin-strengthening ingredients like niacinamide and ceramides (not to mention a powerful antioxidant complex) but also that it “has 0.25%, 0.5 % and 1 type” You can choose the right product according to your skin type. "Gold. "It's very gentle, hydrating, and well tolerated even by people with sensitive skin. "


Test Notes: When it comes to retinol products, this lotion is more of a very thick serum. It glides effortlessly onto your face, quickly smoothing the entire area without leaving any residue. In our tests, we found it to be one of the most elegant to use not to mention one of the most effective even at lower concentrations. We particularly like the buildable option, which allows you to increase your retinol dose when needed without having to switch products.




2. Eucerin Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream: PhD. Zeichner recommends this rich night cream for those with sensitive skin because "it combines the powerful antioxidants CoQ10 and retinyl esters to strengthen and smooth skin." Since it's non-irritating, it can be used on all skin types, The same goes for sensitive people. "

Test Notes: The best thing about this thick cream is that there is no need to add additional moisturizer. It's incredibly rich and creamy, especially for a cream in this price range.





So if you have dry skin, this is a no-brainer. Using it at night ensures that the retinol has time to work, and when we use it, we wake up with hydrated, plump skin without a hint of dryness.




3. Shani Darden Skin Care Retinol Revolution® Treatment Serum: While the product doesn't specify how much retinol is in the formula, "it's gentle and a great option for people who are worried about starting to use retinol due to sensitive or dry skin," says Dr. gold.





Test Notes: Without knowing for sure how much retinol is in this product, we found that it's still non-irritating, although we assume the percentage is slightly higher than other products on this list. It’s also a good idea to add exfoliating lactic acid, which can help make your skin tone smoother and more even

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in addition to the effects of retinol. While we haven't had any irritation issues with it, we recommend that people with particularly sensitive skin or those who have never used retinol before start using it extra slowly, just in case.




4. RoC Derm Correxion Fill + Treat Advanced Retinol Serum: "This serum combines stabilized forms of retinol and hyaluronic acid," says Dr. Illustrator. “They complement each other by moisturizing and plumping skin—providing immediate and long-term benefits through consistent use of retinol.”




Test Notes: This retinol is called a "wrinkle filler," which is a bit misleading. Of course, since the formula contains retinol, it helps smooth lines and wrinkles, and since it contains high amounts of hyaluronic acid, it can have a slight plumping effect on the skin




but these effects are cumulative rather than immediate. of. However, when used correctly, it actually does what it says on the package – which is to reduce the appearance of signs of aging. What we love most about it is that for the price, it's actually reliable.




5. Press "Versed" to "Restart Gentle Retinol Serum". This innovative night serum combines encapsulated retinol with bakuchiol, a botanical ingredient with retinol-like properties, to release retinol more slowly into the skin to limit irritation. This combination means high effectiveness with low irritation.