Retinol Oils Are Having a Major Moment—Here Are 15 Worth Trying

A powerhouse at reducing wrinkles and fine lines, evening skin tone, and reducing acne, retinol is one of the world's great skincare ingredients. But using retinol isn't without its challenges. The ingredient is notoriously irritating and is known to cause redness and flaking on some, especially those with sensitive skin. But skincare science has come light-years. There are now more ways than ever to get your retinol fix, from gentler forms of retinol to plant-based alternatives. One of them? Retinol oils, which tend to be gentler, more nourishing, and less irritating than traditional serums. 

If you've been hesitant to try retinol (or have a shaky past with the ingredient), retinol oils may be a safe entry point back in. They often have lower concentrations of retinol and are cushioned with skin-loving oils and hydrators. Plus, they can be used on their own or mixed in with moisturizer for an added ingredient boost. Some may even be gentle enough to use morning and night; although, it's best to start out just at night and build up from there. 

Looking to give retinol oils a shot? Read on for 15 of the best options, including retinol alternatives (which are safe for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding).

1. Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

Sunday Riley's beloved oil uses trans-retinoic acid ester, a gentler form of retinol that's still effective at softening the look of fine lines and wrinkles. Add in calming blue tansy and German chamomile for soothing properties, and it's a cocktail for even-toned, smoother, and all-around glowing skin.

2. Drunk Elephant A-Gloei Retinol Oil

This minimalist formula is made with the brand's signature nourishing marula oil as its base, 0.5% retinol, and ceramides to strengthen the skin barrier. It's a great choice for anyone easing into retinol or those who've experienced irritation from the ingredient.

3. Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Acne Oil 

Don't sleep on retinol as an acne treatment. This facial oil features the ingredient along with pore-clearing salicylic acid and moisturizing jojoba, argan, and rose-hip oils to help protect the skin barrier. 

retinol oils

Photo:

@champagnemani
 

4. StriVectin S.T.A.R Light Retinol Night Oil

You'll love the lightweight, dry-oil consistency almost as much as you love the effects of the biomimetic retinol, which mimics skin's own natural processes so you see major results.

5. Naturally Serious Sleepover Retin-Oil Nighttime Treatment

This overnight treatment oil is made with 2% vegan retinol, so if your skin is on the sensitive side, try using it two or three nights a week and build up from there. 

6. Mara Evening Primrose + Green Tea Algae Retinol Oil

It may be pricey, but fans of this clean, nourishing 1.2% retinol oil are willing to spend—so much so that it's sold out on multiple occasions.

retinol oils

Photo:

@marina_torres

7. Naturopathica Holy Basil Retinol Ageless Night Oil

Not only is this oil made with 1% retinol, but it also contains bakuchiol, which may boost both ingredients' efficacy. 

8. Naturium Retinoid Face Oil

This affordable option is made with a bioavailable form of retinol called hydroxypinacolone retinoate, plus hydrating (and vegan) squalane. 

9. Tata Harper Retinoic Nutrient Face Oil With Vitamin A

Thanks to its high concentration of vitamin A, rose-hip oil is often touted as a natural source of retinol. It's the main ingredient in this naturally sourced oil, which also contains moisturizing jojoba oil, apricot-kernel oil, and softening neroli. 

retinol oils

Photo:

@emmahoareau

10. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil

Lightweight, effective, and under $40? As if we needed additional proof that the team at Neutrogena knows their retinol.

11. Evolve Organic Beauty Bio-Retinol + C Booster

Not ready to commit to full-on retinol? Bakuchiol—a plant-based retinol alternative—is the star of the show here. Even better, it also has vitamin C to up the antioxidant and skin-brightening power.

retinol oils

Photo:

@madisonelainechertow

12. Darphin Ideal Resource Youth Retinol Oil Concentrate Capsules

Retinol can break down when exposed to light, so these little single-use capsules help preserve the oil inside. Bonus: They're travel-friendly!

13. Jordan Samuel Skin Retinol Treatment Oil

A blend of hydrating oils—marula, sweet almond, and argan—and antioxidant-rich cranberry-seed oil round out this recently updated formula from Jordan Samuel Skin, which features pure retinol. 

retinol oils

Photo:

@ivycoco23

14. Pixi Overnight Retinol Oil

If you want results without spending too much, this highly rated formula has similar ingredients to a lot of the other products on this list, but it's a steal at $24. 

15. Ren Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid Youth Concentrate Oil

This moisturizing formula is made with rose-hip oil as well as bidens pilosa, another retinol alternative option that reduces the chance of irritation.

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