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
4. StriVectin S.T.A.R Light Retinol Night Oil
5. Naturally Serious Sleepover Retin-Oil Nighttime Treatment
6. Mara Evening Primrose + Green Tea Algae Retinol Oil
7. Naturopathica Holy Basil Retinol Ageless Night Oil
8. Naturium Retinoid Face Oil
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.
10. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil
11. Evolve Organic Beauty Bio-Retinol + C Booster
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
14. Pixi Overnight Retinol Oil
15. Ren Clean Skincare Bio Retinoid Youth Concentrate Oil