If you're at all concerned about trying to slow down the effects of aging on your skin, you've probably heard of retinol. Retinol is the scientific term for vitamin A and it is proven to increase the production of skin-plumping collagen, thus increasing the firmness and elasticity of skin and softening the depth and overall appearance of wrinkles over time. Retinol is also an antioxidant that helps to counteract the effects of free radicals -- which damage skin cells. Most people have no problems using wrinkle creams containing retinol, and are thrilled with the results.
However, wrinkle creams with retinol have some downsides. Products containing retinol will not be as effective in sunlight as retinol can degrade in the sun. Some people with sensitive skin can't tolerate retinol; they're better off trying a wrinkle cream without retinol, which are covered in our discussion of the best wrinkle creams. Another tip we often see for those sensitive to retinol is to start by using a wrinkle cream with it every other day, and then work your way up to every day.
If you think a wrinkle cream with retinol is right for your skin, Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream (Est. $10 for 1.4 oz.) is a longtime favorite among reviewers because it's affordable and it works. The retinol cream contains a notable amount of antioxidants (green tea and two forms of vitamin E), all in a moisturizing base. Beauty products expert and PaulasChoice.com site owner Paula Begoun says, "It is definitely one of the better retinol products at the drugstore," due to its high content of quality ingredients at its affordable price point.
Consumer reviewers agree. Many praise the wrinkle cream for being an excellent value and say it produces noticeable results in the form of a more even skin tone and smoother texture. Several users also say that the Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream does an excellent job of moisturizing skin, minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and even reducing acne breakouts. It's lightweight and absorbs quickly, users say.
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream is fragrance- and oil-free. Like most wrinkle creams, it doesn't contain sunscreen, and retinol will breakdown when exposed to sun, so it's best used as a night cream unless you layer it under a good facial moisturizer containing sunscreen, which some people do. The upside of the lack of fragrance and sunscreen is that it's reported as very well-tolerated by those with sensitive skins, although retinol can be more irritating than creams without that ingredient.
A Neutrogena product that gets good reviews for its quick results is Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum (Est. $19 for 1 oz.). It makes Allure.com's list of the hottest anti-aging products for under $30. Editors there say it helps plump lines immediately, and offers long term wrinkle diminishing as well. Paula Begoun gives it 4 stars, saying it "definitely makes skin feel smoother." She notes that it may not be emollient enough for those with very dry skin. However, most wrinkle creams should be used in conjunction with a moisturizer as well -- not many are intended to be used as a stand-alone product.
Users give Neutrogena Rapid Repair generally high marks, saying it lives up to its name and they've noticed a definite improvement in their skin. Some say it does not work for them, but others point out that you have to give it some time if you've been ignoring your skin and have just started using this. Even those who say they're disappointed in its wrinkle-reducing results say it's a good moisturizer and goes on easily, with a smooth, non-greasy texture.
It's pricier, but Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM (Est. $40 for 1 oz.) gets raves from both experts and users for its noticeable effect on minimizing wrinkles. Begoun gives it her highest, 5-star rating, saying, "This is a very good non-aqueous, silicone-based serum with retinol. It also includes antioxidant vitamins C and E along with a cell-communicating ingredient and anti-irritant." She does note, however, that its high concentration of retinol (1.5 percent) can cause redness and flaking in sensitive skin. Users on the PaulasChoice.com also give it 5 stars in more than 15 reviews, saying it works well, and does not irritate even those who consider their skin sensitive.
Elsewhere, at other retail sites such as Amazon.com, Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM gets equally high praise, with most saying that, in spite of its price, a little goes a long way, and that it noticeably smooths and brightens their skin. Begoun, as well as some users, are not crazy about the dropper-style packaging, because it can be more difficult to use, but say it's necessary with some formulations.
Those who have fairly significant issues with wrinkling may want to consider RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum (Est. $15 for 1 oz.). Over time, it can really work to smooth wrinkles in places where they tend to be deeper, such as frown lines, crow's feet, or where your skin creases as you sleep. It's very popular with users, who say they saw significant improvement even in deeper wrinkles and creases. However, they note that you do have to use it consistently to see the most benefit.
Murad Time Release Retinol Concentrate for Deep Wrinkles (Est. $45 for .5 oz.) is a very emollient wrinkle cream that seems to be particularly popular with mature women, who report that they see a big difference in smile lines at the mouth, crow's feet and creases where they sleep or frown. Many say they have been using this product for quite some time and feel as if it's helping to prevent further signs of aging. Paula Begoun gives Murad Age Reform props for its anti-aging properties and awards it 5 stars. She says Murad has, "...included a range of beneficial ingredients so this isn't a one-note product." She also notes that its formulation may have a brightening effect.