Top 5 OTC Retinol Creams (Wrinkles, Pores, Hyperpigmentation)

Dermatologists and other skin experts consider retinol as the holy grail of topical skincare treatments; in fact, retinol has been proven to treat a wide variety of skin problems, including hyperpigmentation, skin aging, and acne.
When retinol is applied topically, it stimulates cell generation and collagen production, which in turn helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, unclog pores and even out your skin tone and texture.
However, if you want to get the best results from retinol, then you have to choose the best retinol cream for your needs. Luckily, today you have landed in the right place because we are going to tell you everything that you need to know about retinol, including the best OTC retinol creams on the market that help tackle wrinkles and fine lines, hyperpigmentation, acne scars, open pores, and more.

Retinol is a powerful and highly effective anti-aging ingredient that helps to accelerate skin cell renewal, refine the skin texture, treat aging signs as well as enhance skin radiance. It is a derivative form of Vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin that is mostly found in eggs, fish, carrots, and sweet potatoes.

Retinol is used in various skincare products because it has the ability to change the behavior of aged cells, which give your skin a plumper, healthier, and rejuvenated appearance.

Best Over The Counter Retinol Creams

Best Overall: Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Cream
If you want to restore your skin to a healthier, plumper appearance, then Drunk elephant A-Passioni Retinol anti-wrinkle cream is the right choice for you.
Formulated with vegan and gluten-free ingredients, Drunk Elephant Retinol cream will not only nourish your skin but will also significantly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, treat sun damage, and even out your skin tone and texture.
This cream contains 1% retinol and peptides to help improve your skin tone and texture, while restoring skin bounce and resilience, on the other hand, vitamin F, along with a unique blend of comforting ingredients, including marula and jojoba oils, help restore lipids and moisture in the skin and calm skin sensitivity.
It is also packed with antioxidant ingredients like kale, winter cherry.
Drunk Elephant Retinol cream is our best pick because it works both on your external and internal skin health, thus giving you quality and long term results. It is made in the USA, and all ingredients that it contains have been tested and proven to work.

When you first start using this product, it’s highly recommended that you start off slowly, use it once or twice a week and gradually increase to every other night, and then every day if your skin tolerates it well.


  • All its ingredients are have been tested and proven to work.
  • Contains 1% Retinol, vitamin F, and antioxidants.
  • Perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Vegan and gluten-free.
  • Free of silicones and fragrance.


  • None.

Final Thoughts

Drunk elephant A-Passioni Retinol cream is an ideal cream for people who want to achieve younger-looking, clearer, and more glowing skin. All its ingredients have been tested and proven to work means that you should expect nothing but quality and long-lasting results.

Best Budget: ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Cream

ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Cream
ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Cream is a very affordable retinol cream, but very effective and gives quality and long term results.
Formulated with a blend of pure retinol and an exclusive mineral complex, this anti-wrinkle night cream works its magic throughout the night to gently reduce wrinkles, fine lines and crow’s feet, while lifting and firming the skin.
ROC retinol cream has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines in 12 weeks of continuous use.
This retinol cream is non-comedogenic and oil-free.


  • Clinically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles in 12 weeks of continuous use.
  • It’s affordable.
  • Recommended by dermatologists.
  • Oil-free.
  • Non-comedogenic.


  • The concentration of retinol is low as compared to other more expensive retinol creams.

Final Thoughts

Due to its low concentration of retinol, ROC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Cream is better suited to people who want to try retinol for the first time.

Best Night Cream: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal night cream is an amazing high-end anti-aging night cream that uses a new Retinol Tri-Active Technology to reduce wrinkles and fine lines and even skin tone while you sleep. It also helps strengthen the protective barrier of the skin thanks to the niacinamide and picolinamide in its formula.

This cream contains quality ingredients that have been tested and proven to help give you supple, vibrant, and youthful-looking skin.
Other ingredients in its formula include red algae that helps to fight the signs of aging and Swertia flower extract that helps to boost skin firmness.
This cream is deeply hydrating and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive skin.


  • Improves the firmness and elasticity of the skin while intensely hydrates and nourishes.
  • It is suitable for all skin types.
  • Certified cruelty-free.
  • Strengthens skin’s protective barrier.
  • Paraben, sulfate, and phthalate free.


  • None.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a quality night cream, then look no further than Murad Retinol Youth Renewal night cream. As you’re enjoying your sleep, this cream will nourish your skin to eliminate unsightly wrinkles and fine lines and enhance your skin tone and texture.

Best High Strength: SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum
We love the SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream formula as it contains a high 1% concentration of retinol that promotes cell turnover and help improve the signs of aging and discoloration, as well as soothing and comforting ingredients such as boswellia serrata extract (derived from frankincense), and bisabolol (derived from the chamomile plant).
Given the high concentration of retinol, this cream is suitable for skin pre-conditioned with Retinol 0.5.
SkinCeuticals Retinol night cream also helps exfoliate the skin to minimize pores and blemishes. It’s also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free.


  • It is highly effective in treating wrinkles, fine lines, acne, hyperpigmentation, age spots, and large pores.
  • Contains a strong 1% retinol concentration.
  • Contains a blend of soothing ingredients to minimize irritation.
  • It promotes cell turnover.
  • Paraben, sulfate, and phthalate free.


  • It is quite expensive.
  • Can irritate the skin if it’s not used to Retinol.

Final Thoughts

Skinceuticals Retinol 1 night cream is ideal for people who want to effectively eliminate wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and pigmentation, but is only suitable for skin pre-conditioned with Retinol 0.5.

Best For Beginners: SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex

SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex
If you are looking to incorporate a retinol into your skin care routine for the first time, then look no further than SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex.
This cream is formulated with a low concentration of retinol (0.25), which makes it better tolerated by first-time retinol users. The formula also contains ceramides for skin barrier repair, squalane to soften the skin and help prevent irritation, and other powerful ingredients such as niacinamide, peptides, vitamin E, and antioxidants.
SkinMedica Retinol cream is formulated to help fight the signs of premature aging while soothing the skin, it also helps improve the skin’s tone and texture.
It is recommended to use this cream twice a week in the beginning to build tolerance to Retinol.


  • Contains 0.25% retinol, which makes it perfect for beginners.
  • It is gentle on the skin.
  • It helps to fight signs of aging.
  • It is good for sensitive skin.
  • It is packed with potent ingredients.
  • Doesn’t contain any artificial fragrances.
  • Paraben, sulfate, and phthalate free.


  • None.

Final Thoughts

If you are a beginner to Retinol, then SkinMedica Retinol 0.25 Complex is the perfect choice for you. It contains very effective ingredients that have been tested and proven to work. Additionally, it also gentle to the skin.

What Are The Benefits Of Retinol?

Retinol has a multitude of benefits for the skin, they include:
  • It smoothens out the existing fine lines and wrinkles as well as prevents wrinkles from forming in the future.
  • It helps to brighten dull skin by exfoliating at a cellular level. This results in smoother, brighter-looking skin.
  • It fades away sun spots, hyperpigmentation, and age spots, resulting in a smoother and even-looking complexion.
  • It helps minimize acne breakouts by sloughing away dead skin cells and unclogging pores.
  • It helps fade acne scars by stimulating collagen production.
  • It is highly effective in minimizing the appearance of pores and unclogging them.
  • It helps to enhance your skin tone and texture.
  • It helps to minimize breakouts and regulate oily skin.

How To Use Retinol In Your Regular Skincare Routine

Retinol is most effective when applied at night. If you are using Retinol for the first time, then you should start slow to give your skin time to adjust to the cream. Don’t apply too much, only apply what is necessary.
Many retinol skincare products are formulated with hydrating ingredients that help to minimize irritation and dryness; however, if the Retinol you’re using does not contain a hydrating agent, then you are advised to apply a moisturizer after you have used retinol cream.
Retinol cream should be applied once a day as a part of your night skincare routine.

FAQ - Top OTC Retinol Creams

Is Retinol Cream Safe?

If you are planning to use retinol cream for the first time, then this question might be running through your mind. The answer is YES, retinol creams are safe. If used correctly and in the right proportion, then you will not suffer from side effects.
Retinol makes the skin sensitive to UV lights, that is why you are advised to apply it at night just before you go to bed, it is also highly recommended to apply high SPF sunscreen while using Retinol.
Some people may experience redness and irritation immediately after application, but that should not worry you because it usually fades away after a short period of time.
Note that Retinol-based products are not recommended for use during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

How Often Should You Apply Retinol?

Because retinol cream is applied at night, experts recommend that you start slow until the skin gets used to it.
For instance, if it is your first time to use this cream, then you should start by applying once a week then every other night. This is important because it allows your skin to adapt to retinol.
How frequently you should use Retinol also depends on your skin type on how it responds to it.

Is Retinol Suitable For All Skin Types?

Yes, Retinol is suitable for all skin types. Multiple studies that have been conducted have shown that retinol work on all skin types. However, there are some skin types that respond to retinol treatment better than others. Retinol creams are usually also formulated with other ingredients that help them to give better results, especially to people who have sensitive skin.

What Is The Best Age To Start Using Retinol Products?

If you are thinking of using retinol creams, then experts recommend that you should wait until when you are in your late 20s. That is the time when your skin has the ability to regenerate and elastin production start to decrease, thus, late 20s is the perfect time you need to add skincare ingredients such as retinol in your skincare regimen to help enhance your skin health.

What Is The Difference Between Retinol And Retinoids?

People usually tend to confuse Retinol with Retinoids, but it’s important to know that the two terms are related but different.
Both Retinol and Retinoids are derived from vitamin A, retinol is a specific type of retinoid, it contains a lower concentration of the active retinoic acid and is usually found in over the counter creams and serums, on the other hand, retinoids are a stronger form and are available by prescription only.

Conclusion: Top OTC Retinol Creams

Retinol skincare products can help enhance your skin health and appearance if applied correctly. We recommend that you purchase any of the above-recommended creams because they have been tested and proven beyond a reasonable doubt to give quality results.
You should also check out our Best Retinol Face Washes article if you’re looking for retinol-containing cleansers.
Judy Rose

Hi, it’s Judy!

I’m a passionate skincare specialist and writer. I have more than 7 years of experience as a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle writer and editor, and I’m extremely passionate about what I do.