Do you want to reduce wrinkles? Retinoids are your friends. They’re highly effective at reducing and preventing wrinkles and they also help rebalance oil levels (that’s why they’re used to treat acne). Choosing the right retinoid for your night skincare routine isn’t easy, but this comparison (which includes my favorite ones) will certainly help you.
You already know that retinoids are one of my favorite ingredients in cosmetics, so today I am going to tell you how my experience has been, progressively incorporating them into my night routines to achieve the best possible result while maintaining my skin barrier protected.
And why do I like retinoids so much? Because these derivatives of vitamin A are a family of most effective ingredients when it comes to preventing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, since they help repair collagen and elastin fibers (responsible for maintaining our skin firm) and accelerate the cell turnover process (by means of which the most superficial layers of cells of our skin are shed). In addition to this, retinoids also help rebalance oil levels, making them a very effective acne treatment.
As I explained in greater detail in my guide on retinoids, this set of ingredients encompasses different compounds that we can find in the ingredient list of our cosmetics, such as Retinyl palmitate, Retinol, Retinaldehyde or Tretinoin. The main difference between them is in the amount of transformations that the ingredient has to go through until it becomes retinoic acid, which is the way our skin uses them effectively. The greater the number of transformations (or conversions), the less powerful the ingredient will be, but the potential irritation that it can cause us will also be lower. Of course, there are other aspects that affect the effectiveness of the product, which will depend on the type of active ingredient it incorporates, how it has been included (for example, encapsulated or not), its concentration, its synergy with other ingredients in the composition and of the final formula.
And why am I telling you that retinoids are potentially irritating ingredients? Because it is important to use them properly, following the instructions you can find on my guide on retinoids, gradually incorporating them into your night routine, allowing your skin to acquire tolerance, without abusing other potentially irritating ingredients and avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Otherwise, by accelerating cell turnover, you can end up unbalancing your skin barrier, making your skin more susceptible to changes and, therefore, more easily damaged. With this I do not intend to scare you, but it is important that you take it into account to use them properly, seeking a balance between meeting the needs of your skin while avoiding unbalanced it.
Keep in mind that if you are pregnant you should not use retinoids, so if this is your case you will have to wait and later you will be able to enter this interesting world.
Now that you know that retinoids are potentially irritating, you will understand that it is important to gradually incorporate them into your beauty routines. For this reason, I have started using less powerful formulas (with a lower concentration of active ingredients that require more transformations to become retinoic acid), progressively advancing. Do you want to know how my experience has been using different cosmetics with retinoids? Keep reading!
- The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
- La Roche-Posay Retinol B3
- Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
- Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3
- Allies of Skin 1A Retinal + Peptides Overnight Mask
- Avène A-Oxitive Peeling Cream
This is one of my favorite formulas to start incorporating retinoids. As you can read in the complete review of the product, this formula incorporates, in addition to retinol, hydroxypinacolone retinoate, a new form of retinoids that is characterized by being especially little irritating. Thus, with this serum you can begin to try retinoids so that your skin begins to acquire tolerance to this type of actives and, later, if it is what you need, introduce more powerful formulas.
This serum has a somewhat milky texture that is very well absorbed. Its application is comfortable and I have not observed any type of irritation, although I must admit that I am very cautious and prefer to be patient and constant to ensure that my skin barrier is balanced.
This La Roche-Posay serum, of which I already shared a full review, has a texture similar to the previous one, slightly creamy. Among its ingredients it incorporates retinol and retinyl palmitate. The combination of both allows us to apply two forms of retinoids at the same time while providing our skin with niacinamide (which reduces redness) and hyaluronic acid (which helps improve hydration). Although it is a very complete formula, for my taste the fragrance could have been dispensed with.
Regarding results, I have been able to observe some improvement in some fine lines and I have not had any irritation, so using it as a second phase of my experience using retinoids has been a good decision.
If you follow me on social media and on the blog, you will already know that Paula’s Choice is one of my favorite cosmetic brands. This is undoubtedly one of my favorite products of the brand, and in addition to being effective, it works wonderfully in combination with other of its formulas, such as this niacinamide serum or any of these three moisturizers.
In this case, the formula not only includes 1% retinol (which, although it may seem little, is a high proportion), but also incorporates several forms of peptides and different antioxidants, such as vitamin E and licorice and soy extracts.
The texture of this product is different from the previous serums, it is creamier and more emollient. In addition, by being marketed in a container that protects the product from air and ultraviolet radiation, it allows it to remain protected.
If I had to classify this product by its effectiveness, it would undoubtedly be one of the best: it is quite powerful and it has not caused me irritation (again, because I prefer to be cautious and introduce these types of active ingredients progressively always taking into account the state of my skin spacing the use of retinoids when I notice that it becomes more sensitized).
We continue to advance towards more powerful retinoid formulas, in this case with a product with a creamy texture (which may be reminiscent of Avène’s, which I will talk about later) and which includes 0.03% retinaldehyde, various antioxidants (among which I would highlight a derivative of vitamin C, 3-O-Ethyl-Ascorbic Acid) and hyaluronic acid (which helps improve skin hydration). Medik8 has several products within the same line, so if you need it, you can try a formula with a higher or lower concentration of retinal (between 0.01% and 0.1%).
The sensations using this product were great, and although I would do without its perfume, it is one of my favorite products in this comparison. Within a few weeks of continued use I could begin to appreciate some fine lines being reduced.
I think I would not recommend this product for those who want to start with retinoids, as it can be too much for skin that has not acquired a tolerance to these types of ingredients. However, if you already have experience using retinoids, I would advise you to try incorporating it into your PM routine.
Since this product is quite powerful, I recommend combining it with ingredients that strengthen your skin barrier, such as those mentioned in my guide on sensitive skin and in my article on irritated skin
I am aware that, in most cases (including myself), a product like this is a treat that exceeds the budget that we can usually allocate to cosmetics, but if you want to pamper yourself or are looking for a cosmetic to be given as a gift , you want to keep reading.
We would incorporate this Allies of Skin product into our night routine as a moisturizer or sleeping mask. This is because it is quite emollient, so I sometimes prefer to do without the moisturizer after using it. In this case, the formula not only incorporates 0.05% encapsulated retinaldehyde, one of the most powerful forms of retinoids, but also includes different types of peptides (which help prevent and reduce certain wrinkles and fine lines) and niacinamide (which, as you well know, helps prevent irritation).
As I said, this is a great skincare product to receive as a gift: it is very effective, the sensations when applying it are great and I found it especially soft. If your skin has already acquired tolerance to retinoids, it is a good product to incorporate into your night routine.
6. AVÈNE A-OXITIVE PEELING CREAM
This Avène product incorporates 0.1% retinaldehyde among its ingredients, so we must start from the basis that it is a powerful formula. In addition to this, it incorporates various peptides in its composition, which also help reduce wrinkles and fine lines. One aspect that I value positively about this product is that it does not include perfume among its ingredients.
The texture of this product could be identified as a light cream or dense serum, so it is perfect to apply after hydrating your skin with a toner and a good hyaluronic acid serum (here you can see several recommendations). I use a pump (which is roughly equivalent to a pea and is the right amount of product).
My assessment of this product is very positive. It is similar in texture and color to the Medik8 serum that I told you about earlier, although Medik8 may spread slightly better. As a positive counterpart, this Avène serum does not incorporate perfumes among its ingredients and it has a more affordable price, so if you are looking for a powerful, inexpensive formula with a great texture, it is for you.
I have been very hesitant about including this product in the guide, since it is technically a drug and in some places a prescription is required to obtain it. However, since I have used it I think it may be interesting to share my experience so that you know what the product is like, what the sensations are like when using it and what conclusions I draw about it.
Retirides is a cream of which the main active is tretinoin or retinoic acid, that is, the most powerful (and also the most potentially irritating) form of retinoids. There are three versions with different concentrations: 0.25 mg/g, 0.5 mg/g and 1 mg/g. So far, I have only tried the Retirides 0.25 version, but if I use another in the future I will update the comparison.
One aspect that perhaps I have found quite unnecessary about this product is that it incorporates fragrance among its ingredients. At the end of the day, since it is considered a drug, I believe that there is no need to add a fragrance, although of course this is an opinion and because it is, it is still a most effective product.
Undoubtedly, I do not recommend using this product if your skin does not have enough tolerance to these types of active, since it can seriously unbalance it. As I usually say, when it comes to taking care of our skin it is essential to be patient and constant, only then can we obtain the results we are looking for. You already know that you always have to do the patch test before adding new products to your skincare routines, but in this case it is even more important, given how powerful the product is.
The product is found in a metal tube from which we will extract the necessary amount for each application (the equivalent of a pea is enough). The cream itself is white and very light (in fact, if you’re not careful, you might fall off).
Without a doubt, it is the product with which I have observed the best results, although my skin has also been slightly irritated despite following all possible precautions when using it (in night routines every 2-3 days, always accompanied by other soothing active ingredients and avoiding exposure to ultraviolet radiation). By this I mean that, even being careful, when using powerful ingredients our skin barrier can be weakened, so we must do everything possible to keep it well cared for.
As you can see, there are many options available on the market if you want to incorporate retinoids into your beauty routines, but the key is to introduce them progressively and according to the needs of your skin to avoid unbalanced it. In addition, I recommend using them together with other soothing assets in order to minimize the potential irritation that they may cause you. Among my favorite serums to use alongside retinoids are this Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, available on Paula’s Choice and on Niche Beauty, and The Inkey List Niacinamide, available on FeelUnique.
If you liked this article and want to continue learning how to take care of your skin, I recommend you take a look at these other posts:
- What actives can you combine in your skincare routine?
- What is sensitive skin and how to take care of it.
Do you want to learn to take better care of your skin? You can see an index of all my informative posts here.
*I have received some of these products as PR | Read more about my transparency code.