7 New Retinols (& Alternatives) For A MAJOR Glow-Up This Fall

Product roundups


Even if you’re not currently using retinol as a part of your skincare regimen, it’s one of those ingredients that makes you question if you should be. Die-hard retinol loyalists swear by its ability to literally resurface the skin — plus plumping, firming, calming redness and breakouts — without having to commit to more invasive (read: pricey) treatments.

Yet with what seems like a million new retinol must-haves and retinol alternatives hitting the shelves these days, knowing which one to choose is tricky. Which is why we broke down a few of our current faves in serum, moisturizer, and all-in-one forms.

But first, let the pros school us of why we should be using this powerhouse product in the first place.

What Does Retinol Do

“As a dermatologist, retinol is one of my absolute favorite ingredients,” explains Kiehl’s consulting dermatologist, Dr. Michelle Henry. “It’s one of the most transformative ingredients in dermatology as it targets all skin issues: fine lines, wrinkles, and improved texture. Because it’s effective at unclogging pores, I also find it’s often effective in improving acne breakouts in some of my patients.”

While retinol and retinoids are both forms of vitamin A, the latter requires a prescription while retinol can be bought over the counter.

How to Ease Into Retinol If You’re a Newbie

If you’ve never tried retinol before, this is not a product you want to apply heavy handed — or every night. It’s more of a work your way up essential. “Because retinol is such a transformative ingredient, I recommend starting slow even with the gentlest formulation,” advises Henry. “Start by using twice a week, and then every other night, and eventually use daily. Layer a moisturizer on top to reduce any risk of redness, and never forget SPF, which is an absolute must as retinol can make skin more sensitive to UV light.”

Best New Retinol & Retinol Alternative Products

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Texture Renewal Serum, $72

Retinol, bakuchiol, and rambutan team up for greatness in this miracle-working vial that minimizes pore size, clears up blemishes and targets wrinkles. A total texture game changer if you will, it also increases elasticity big time. Massage 8 to 10 drops into dry skin morning or night and wait for the glow to set in.

Arbonne DermResults Illuminating Skin Therapy Concentrate with 15% Vitamin C-2% Bakuchiol-1% Ferulic Acid, $99

Retinol is considered a holy grail skincare product for its ability to improve collagen production and reduce signs of photo-aging. Arbonne’s new triple threat does all that and contains vitamin C and ferulic acid with bakuchiol to offer serious brightening advantages, too. “Bakuchiol is a plant-derived ingredient that carries many of the same benefits for fighting photo-aging of skin as a retinol,” explains LA-based dermatologist Dr. Naissan Wesley. The difference? It’s better tolerated by most, without as many side effects.

Garnier Green Labs Retinol-Berry Super Smoothing Night Serum Cream, $22

Need a nighttime skincare routine that can be done in two minutes flat, but delivers major results? Swap the tired multi-step process for Garnier’s three-in-one cream that takes the place of a retinol moisturizer, serum, and eye cream. Pure retinol and a super berry blend minimize fine lines, crow’s feet, and under-eye dark circles without emptying your wallet at $22.

Kiehl’s Micro-Dose Anti-Aging Retinol Serum with Ceramides and Peptide, $60

Brace yourselves, this is a BIG deal. Kiehl’s just launched their first-ever retinol serum that’s not only safe for everyday use, but suitable for even the most sensitive skin types… Which means you won’t have to deal with the severe dryness or peeling other retinols can cause. Along with firmer, less porous skin, you can also expect a significant improvement in the pesky fine lines department and reduced inflammation.

Undefined R&R Night Serum, $28

Heaven in a bottle is how we would describe this decadently rich, retinol alternative powered by bakuchiol, moth bean, and carrot seed. Between the serum-in-oil texture and reparative results, we’re big fans — especially at this price point.

NEOSTRATA Correct Comprehensive Retinol 0.3% Night Serum, $78

If you’re on the dryer side, but all about that preventative maintenance in the form of a potent retinol, you’ll undoubtedly love a serum packed with 0.3% stabilized retinol, along with hyaluronic acid for mega moisture.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Face Moisturizer with Retinol, $119

Worried about the strength of pure retinol serums and treatments? Opt for an overnight moisturizer with retinol instead. StriVectin’s creamy formula hydrates while improving skin concerns for super soft, even skin that bounces back to the touch.