Retinols are a Vitamin A based cure-all that can help boost radiance, plump the skin, fight signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, and even scarring and hyper-pigmentation.

Image by Jenny Tarbell

Image by Jenny Tarbell

words by JUDY BRUMLEY • Shop The StoryBeauty

Retinol based beauty products may be the answer to maintaining skin rejuvination and a younger looking complexion as the weather gets colder.

Retinols are a Vitamin A based cure-all that can help boost radiance, plump the skin, fight signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, and even scarring and hyper-pigmentation. The active ingredient Retinoid works by increasing your skin’s turnover AKA speeding up the skin’s lifecycle, allowing fresh, new cells to generate below the surface and replace the old dead ones. The increase in cell growth and new tissue helps preserve collagen and strengthen elasticity in the inner layers of the skin, which is where wrinkles start, and nobody needs those. Here are some of our favorites to keep that glowing skin this fall.


Dr. Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Brightening Solution

Key ingredients: Ferulic Acid, Retinol, Licorice Root Extract

Why we love it: This formula has the added benefit of SPF to protect your skin from sun damage, doing double duty on fine line reduction. Made with ferulic acid—a plant-based antioxidant—this serum keeps your skin safe from sun rays too. Plus, it’s strong enough to reduce imperfections, yet gentle enough to be used twice daily.

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

Key ingredients: Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Swertia Flower Extract

Why we love it: Whether you have normal, oily, combination, dry, or sensitive skin, this serum can help minimize wrinkles and leave you with a glowing complexion. Made with a fast-acting retinoid, a time-release retinol, and retinol booster, this 3-in-1 product firms and moisturizes.

Natura Bissé Essential Shock Intense Retinol Fluid

Key ingredients: Retinol Complex, Soy Proteins, Mushroom Extract

Why we love it: Light and extremely hydrating, this anti-aging fluid helps to smooth skin and minimize imperfections. Formulated with soy proteins and mushroom extract, using this product regularly can provide long-term hydration for your skin.


Sunday Riley A+ High-Dose Retinoid Serum 

Key ingredients: Hawaiian White Honey, Cactus Extract, Ginger Balance

Why we love it: Applying a couple pumps of this product several times a week can help balance skin for a more even complexion. Plus, ingredients like Hawaiian white honey and encapsulated CoQ10 (a naturally occurring antioxidant that aids in cell growth and maintenance) can soothe aging or damaged skin. If you have sensitive skin, try applying a hydrating oil underneath this serum.

Dr. Brandt 2% Retinol Complex Serum

Key ingredients: 2% Retinol Complex, Lemon Tree Honey, Olive Fruit Extract

Why we love it: This fragrance-free serum is made with a time-released 2% retinol complex to help improve texture and tone, and reduce the look of imperfections. Olive fruit extract helps counteract redness and irritation while lemon tree honey works to clear and moisturize. Applying before bed will leave your skin radiant the next morning.

iS Clinical Pro-Heal Serum Advance+ 

Key ingredients: L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Olive Leaf Extract, Retinol (Vitamin A), Vitamin E

Why we love it: Revitalize your skin with this powerful healing serum. Vitamins A, C and E moisturize, protect, and diminish the appearance of any imperfections from fine lines to blemishes and signs of aging while olive leaf extract helps fight free radicals.


Herbivore Bakuchiol Retinol Alternative Serum 

Key ingredients: Bakuchiol and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHAs)

Why we love it: Bakuchiol—a natural, non-irritating retinol alternative derived from the Ayurvedic Babchi plant— can help smooth fine lines and seal in hydration. This product is suitable for all skin types and can be used by pregnant women. For a glowing complexion, try pairing with Herbivore’s anti-aging Phoenix Face Oil.

Joanna Vargas Super Nova Serum

Key ingredients: Apple Fruit Cell Culture Extract, Summer Snowflake Flower Extract, Persian Silk Tree Extract, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide.

Why you should use it: Made with palmitoyl oligopeptide—a retinol alternative that stimulates collagen—this retinol serum improves firmness for a more youthful appearance. Here’s how it works; Apple fruit cell culture extract helps reverse the signs of aging by stimulating skin cell generation, summer snowflake flower extract lightens skin, and persian silk tree extract acts as an anti-inflammatory.


Biossance Squalane + Phyto-Retinol Serum

Key ingredients: Bakuchiol, Hyaluronic Acid, Squalane

Why we love it: This serum gives you the benefits of retinol without any retinol – thanks to bakuchiol, an East Asian plant-derived alternative. Applying a couple pumps of this lightweight, non-irritating product in the morning and at night can help reduce the look of fine lines, and even your skin tone. For added hydration, spritz your face with Biossance’s Squalane + Micronutrient Fine Mist before using the serum.

111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil

Key ingredients: Diamond Powder, Poppy Seed Oil, Retinol, Rice Bran Oil

Why we love it: This highly concentrated treatment is formulated to quickly improve skin texture and diminish the appearance of dullness and fine lines. Made with diamond powder to help with the absorption of active ingredients, this product helps to boost cell turnover and increase collagen production to brighten your complexion.

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