10 Retinol Creams & Serums That Are Worth the Splurge

Looking to incorporate retinol into your skincare routine? We've rounded up a few products that are definitely worth the splurge.

By Kristine Fellizar Jan 20, 2022 12:09 AMTags
E-Comm: Best Retinol

We independently selected these deals and products because we love them, and we think you might like them at these prices. E! has affiliate relationships, so we may get a commission if you purchase something through our links. Items are sold by the retailer, not E!. Prices are accurate as of publish time.

Retinol is considered to be a superstar ingredient by dermatologists everywhere. After all, it has so many benefits from fighting acne to reducing fine lines and wrinkles to improving skin tone and texture. 

Truth be told, when shopping for skincare products, pricier doesn't always mean better. For instance, the cult-fave Peace Out Retinol Eye Stick is less than $30 and works wonders on dark under eye circles, fine lines and wrinkles. Amazon also has retinol creams that are highly-rated and totally affordable. 

But there are benefits to purchasing higher-end products as well. If you're willing to spend a little more for a high-quality product that really gets the job done, we've rounded up some top-rated retinols that are definitely worth the splurge. Check those out below. 

Don't Miss Out! This Trio of Anti-Aging Serums With 41,000+ Five-Star Amazon Reviews Is on Sale for $17

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

Drunk Elephant's A-Passioni retinol cream is made with 1.0% vegan retinol and will improve the look and feel of the skin while protecting it against damage. It also contains a triple-peptide blend that boosts the effects of retinol and helps to firm and strengthen the skin. There's also a mini size available for $28, so you can try it out before you commit to the full size product.

Sephora shoppers say this is truly one game-changing product. As one reviewer wrote, "Three uses spread out over a few days and there is already a visible difference in some clogged pores near my hairline that I could not get rid of! I have dry skin and a dry house during the winter so I'm taking it very easy just in case. It's great. Smells good, makes me feel good, 5 stars." 

StriVectin Super-C Retinol Brighten and Correct Vitamin C Serum

This lightweight serum from StriVectin combines the "brightening power" of vitamin C with the "correcting power" of retinol. It'll reduce the appearance of fine lines, even the skin's texture and give it a youthful glow. 

According to Ulta shoppers, this is one to try. As one reviewer wrote, "This product has done amazing things for the roughness and texture of my cheekbone areas. They are smoothing out beautifully and I never expected to see results like this. I am extremely pleased and amazed. I underwent a Fraxel procedure three years ago and did not receive the results I am getting from this product!" 


Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum

This night serum from Peter Thomas Roth will fight signs of aging without irritating the skin. It's made with a time-released microencapsulated retinol 1.5%, vitamin C and E, and squalane. All of these blend perfectly together to give younger, healthier-looking skin.

According to one Sephora reviewer, it's the "unsung hero" of their skincare routine. "This one is the ONLY retinol that's extremely effective," they wrote. "I've been using this for six years and nobody believes that I'm 40. Forget all the new hype brands you see on IG. This is actually effective on my combination, dry, sensitive skin. I witnessed the line in between my eyebrows disappear after a week of usage. Try it!"

Sunday Riley 5 Stars Retinol and Niacinamide Eye Serum

Sunday Riley's 5 Stars Retinol and Niacinamide Eye Serum gets five stars from Sephora shoppers. It was specifically made to soothe, smooth, and firm the skin around the eyes. It's also infused with olive oil and shea butter, which will rehydrate and restore the skin while you sleep. 

This eye serum has over a thousand perfect reviews on Sephora. As one shopper wrote, "This eye serum is unreal. It is by far the most effective eye serum I have ever used. My main concerns are dark circles, dryness, and wrinkle prevention, and after using it every night for a week, Ive already noticed improvements. Love the applicator. It's easy, cooling and you can control exactly the amount you need. The texture is also divine, so buttery yet lightweight, really nourishing, and not at all heavy."

Murad Retinol Renewal Value Set

Murad's Retinol Renewal Value Set comes with two top-rated retinol products: the Retinol Youth Renewal Eye Serum and the Retinal Youth Renewal Night Cream. Both products feature fast-acting, time-released retinol to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, cotton wool grass extract to hydrate the skin for up to 24 hours and niacinamide and picolinamide to strengthen the skin's protective barrier.

According to one Sephora shopper, the night cream in particular is excellent for sensitive skin. "I've always been intimidated by retinol because some of the others I've tried were too harsh and practically burned my skin. But this is a gentle way to incorporate retinol into your routine without doing damage or worrying about aggravating your skin. It's honestly so gentle you wouldn't even know there's retinol in it." 

First Aid Beauty FAB Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25 Percent Pure Concentrate

If you have sensitive skin or you're new to retinol, this serum from First Aid Beauty is great for beginners as it contains a smaller amount of retinol than others on this list. According to Sephora shoppers, this does its jo without causing any irritation. It's also creamy, moisturizing and feels good on. 

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3

This night cream from SkinCeuticals is another great option for beginners since it only contains 0.3% retinol. Use this three times a week to refine pores and reduce the appearance of discoloration, wrinkles and blemishes. According to one Dermstore shopper, this works "like magic." After just one week, they noticed brighter, more even skin. Plus, it didn't dry their skin out. 


Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum - 60 Pack

Elizabeth Arden's award-winning Retinol Ceramide Capsules are beloved by beauty enthusiasts everywhere and sells out all the time. Retinol is sensitive to light and air, and may lose effectiveness the more you open a jar. But these capsules are single use and sealed extra tight, so the retinol stays potent and fresh. It's luxurious, lightweight and formulated to be non-drying. 


Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Advanced Retinol and Ferulic Intense Wrinkle Cream

This luxe intense wrinkle cream from Dr. Dennis Gross will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while keeping your skin moisturized. In fact, the cream itself was made to be "intensely hydrating" and Sephora shoppers agree. As one reviewer wrote, "Super rich and creamy but not in a greasy way. I used this for a few weeks and my 11's are basically gone! I love the hydration it gives my skin and it doesn't break me out. 10/10 would recommend. I use it as a night time moisturizer and I will be repurchasing!" 

Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Retinoid Night Oil

Sunday Riley's Luna Sleeping Retinoid Night Oil is a Sephora shopper-fave with over a thousand five-star reviews. It's made with advanced retinoid ester, which is gentler than traditional retinol but is just as effective at fighting the appearance of wrinkles. It also contains a botanical complex that soothes redness and nutrient-rich avocado seed oil to hydrate, plump and protect the skin. It's a product that does exactly what it says it will and you will notice the difference in a short period of time. 

Looking for more great beauty products to shop? Check out January 2022's Best New Beauty Products: OUAI, Kosas, Charlotte Tilbury & More.