All the ways you can incorporate retinol into your skin care routine

Retinol really is the jack of all trades

Beauty Crew Contributing Editor / October 17 2023

We’re constantly banging on about how good retinol is, so chances are you’re already on board with the anti-ageing super ingredient. But what you may not have found is ‘The One’ retinol skin care product to add to your regimen. That's where this retinol guide comes in.

What does retinol do for the skin?

Okay, let’s rewind for a second and just remind you of the retinol benefits for skin. A form of vitamin A, retinol is a super ingredient for reducing wrinkles and fine lines and helping prevent them; it helps slow down the ageing process by boosting collagen production. It’s also great for acne. 

How to choose a retinol product based on your skin type

There really is a retinol product for everyone these days, and every step of your skin care routine. From creams and serums to gels and oils, you can let your personal preference lead the way, or let your skin type guide you.

Choosing the best retinol texture for your skin type is similar to picking any skin care product. Those with oily skin tend to prefer gel and serum formulas that are non-greasy and absorb quickly, while creams are great for dry skin that needs an emollient base to help balance out the drying effect that retinol can have on some skin types. If you have sensitive skin, look for a combination of retinol and soothing ingredients; acne-prone skin should seek out a non-comedogenic formula.

As we mentioned earlier, there’s also a retinol product for every step of your routine - it’s not just serums and moisturisers that you have to choose from, there are ampoules and face masks, too.  

8 types of retinol skin care products

What step in your skin care routine could do with a retinol boost? Here are some great over-the-counter retinol products in Australia to get you started. Just choose the texture or step that you prefer!

#1 / A retinol serum

Our product pick: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion
($18.40 at Adore Beauty)

Do you want the good news, or the great news? The good news is this oil-free retinol serum is formulated with a highly-advanced form of retinoid known as granactive retinoid. This means it works quickly and effectively to fight the visible signs of ageing, improve dullness and uneven skin texture, and fade acne scars and pigmentation, all without irritating skin. The great news is, it does all that for under $20! Also good to know: Kim Kardashian uses this anti-ageing serum, too. Quite the endorsement.

#2 / A retinol eye cream

Our product pick: Dope Skin Co Retinol Eye Cream With Vitamin C
($39 at Dope Skin Co)

This deeply hydrating eye cream is formulated with retinoids, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and bioactive soy peptides to boost collagen production, fade dark circles and firm your under eye area. It also helps to smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Added bonus? The lightweight, non-greasy formula is suitable for all skin types. It contains no parabens, phthalates, formaldehydes, silicones, sulphates, mineral oils, synthetic fragrances or colours.

#3 / A retinol face cream

Our product pick: Murad Resurgence Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream
($135 at Adore Beauty)

While you get your shut-eye every night, this retinol cream goes to work on fine lines, uneven skin texture and loss of firmness. In addition to Retinol Tri-Active Technology, it also contains peptide-rich red algae extracts to boost skin elasticity and leave the complexion glowing come morning. This non-greasy and fast-absorbing moisturiser is ideal for normal, combination and dry skin types.

#4 / A retinol oil

Our product pick: Neutrogena® Rapid Wrinkle Repair® Retinol Oil
(Was $55, now $38.39 at Chemist Warehouse)

Neutrogena’s retinol oil delivers the powerful perks of retinol in a skin-pampering oil formula. Great for dry skin in particular, our Review Crew® gave it a four-star rating, noting how lightweight, fast-absorbing and effective it was. This facial oil utilises retinol SA, which is scientifically proven to be superior to other forms of vitamin A, including pro-retinol and retinyl palmitate.

#5 / A retinol ampoule

Our product pick: Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Capsules Line Erasing Night Serum
(Starting from $160 at Myer)

One of these single-dose treatments of encapsulated retinol is 76 per cent more potent than if it was just in fluid form in a bottle! Super potent but also super gentle (thanks to skin-repairing ceramides in the mix), the lightweight serum is clinically and dermatologist tested. We also love how travel-friendly these little ampoules are.

#6 / A retinol peel

Our product pick: Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel
($45.79 at Amazon)

A great retinol for skin that's after an extra-strength solution to the signs of ageing, this two-step peel contains a strong dose of seven acids, along with antioxidants and vitamins, to remove dead skin, clear away excess oil and impurities, refine pores and improve uneven skin tone and texture. Basically, it works very hard to give you younger, smoother and more radiant skin.

#7 / A retinol mask

Our product pick: Skin Republic Retinol Hydrogel Face Mask
($12.99 at Skin Republic)

Sheet masks are known for delivering potent formulas deep within the skin, so it makes sense to load one up with an anti-ageing superhero like retinol. This hydrogel sheet mask moisturises while it tackles the signs of ageing, like wrinkles and decreased skin elasticity. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also enriched with peony, jojoba and hyaluronic acid to boost radiance.

#8 / A retinol tonic

Our product pick: Pixi Retinol Tonic
($36 at ASOS)

Combining the best qualities of a toner and serum, this retinol tonic is formulated to be applied straight after cleansing to permeate the pores, allowing the potent antioxidants to refine and smooth skin texture. The time-release retinol works to reduce fine lines over time, while jasmine flower heals and balances the complexion, for a low-irritation formula that's ideal for sensitive skin.

Main image credit: Getty Images

Looking for a natural alternative to retinol? Here’s everything you need to know about bakuchiol

Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.