6 Best Retinol Creams and Serums to Buy in 2019, According to Beauty Experts

Get ready for the smoothest skin of your life.

You’ve probably heard that retinol is the Holy Grail for anti-aging — but do you actually know what it is, how it works, or if it’s right for you? The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab do. We’re here to give you the lowdown on this powerful over-the-counter vitamin A derivative that’s finding its way into more and more skin care products.

Check out their answers to some of your biggest questions about retinol:

What is retinol?

Retinol is powerful wrinkle-fighter, but it’s also so much more. The potent ingredient boosts skin’s collagen production (and decreases its breakdown) to both minimize and prevent fine lines. It also speeds up cell turnover to reduce dark spots and helps unclog pores, making them appear smaller.

When should I use retinol?

At night! The theory is that your skin repairs itself as you sleep, so any anti-aging ingredients will be more effective if you apply before bedtime. Sunlight and retinol are not BFFs, either: UV has been thought to degrade retinol, decreasing its effectiveness. But more and more daytime moisturizers now contain retinol and SPF (like one of our top picks, Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30).

Be sure you only use it once a day to start: Your skin needs to get used to the ingredient. If you don’t experience residual dryness, stinging, or redness, then you can try using it both A.M. and P.M. a few days a week. If you do have side effects, reduce use to every second or third day. In the interim, try other anti-aging ingredients like peptides or vitamin C.

Should I use prescription-strength retinol?

Not necessarily. Prescription-only retinoic acid is stronger and can give you better results than retinol, but it also can be more irritating. Some dermatologists recommend starting with retinol products (like our picks below) to let your skin acclimate to the ingredient before ramping up the potency. Plus, retinols are available at a fraction of the cost of prescription retinoic acid and you don’t need to schedule a doctor’s visit.

Will retinol make my skin more sensitive to the sun?

Yes, that one is true. Your skin will be more susceptible to burning and irritation from the sun for the whole time you’re using a retinol, and for several weeks after you stop. This is because speedier cell turnover pushes new, delicate skin to the surface. That means you must apply sunscreen every day when you’re using a product with retinol. (But you should already be doing that!) Check out our pros’ go-to moisturizers with SPF or facial sunscreens.

Now that you have a retinol primer, let’s get to the goods. Here are our Lab’s top-tested picks, plus some long-time GH Seal-holding favorites:

 

1

Top Lab Pick

No7 Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum

No7
ulta.com

$29.99

An all-time Lab favorite and GH Seal star, No7’s serum consistently wows in our clinical studies. We found the retinol serum improved skin texture, blurred the look of pores, and boosted firmness by 21% after just four weeks. Powerful peptides, retinyl palmitate (a form of retinol), hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C antioxidant complex helped to regenerate skin with less irritation. The formula also impressively delivers in under two weeks: “In 10 days, my wrinkles were less visible!” a tester said.

 

2

Best Value

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Moisturizer SPF 30

Neutrogena
amazon.com

$17.97

Our Lab tests confirm that this Neutrogena day cream, a GH Seal star and test winner, firms skin and lessens lines over time. “It contains stable and fast-acting forms of retinol, which increased skin firmness by 9%,” explains Birnur Aral, PH.D., director of the GH Beauty Lab, “and it improved the look of some consumer testers’ nasolabial folds (aka laugh lines) after eight weeks of daily use.”

3

GH Seal Star

RoC Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Crème

RoC
RoC walmart.com

$24.97

Perfect if you need a quick skin refresh before a wedding or birthday, this GH Seal star works fast. The RoC cream left skin looking 32% smoother and more radiant after just one week of use, and hydrated it for 24 hours. It only gets better — after four weeks, people saw a further reduction in fine lines and eye wrinkles and after eight weeks, they reported fewer deep wrinkles and dark spots.

4

GH Seal Star

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Skin Therapy Oil for Face

Palmer’s
walmart.com

$7.65

Another GH Seal star, Palmer’s facial oil is formulated with retinol and also boasts hydrating argan, almond, and coconut oils to deeply hydrate on contact. It rated highest among Beauty Lab testers for immediately moisturizing skin so it looked “plumper and smoother.”

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5

Best Luxury Cream

La Prairie Cellular Power Charge Night

La Prairie
nordstrom.com

$560.00

Yes, this is a serious splurge, but if you’re in the market for a high-end retinol cream, it doesn’t get better than La Prairie. In Lab tests, it firmed well in both short- and long-term tests, and it improved skin tone. Testers agreed: “This retinol product is unlike any I’ve ever used. The smoothness and even tone of my skin lets me go without makeup, which I normally would never do,” said one. It also earned top scores for being gentle and non-irritating.

6 Best Custom Cream: Skinceuticals Custom D.O.S.E. Corrective Serum with Retinol
image
Skinceuticals

Prices vary

SHOP NOW

Skinceuticals has created the ultimate personalized skin care. Here’s how it works: head to the doctor for a 5-minute consultation (find a participating derm) and leave with a unique custom corrective formula, which doses retinol depending on your skin’s needs. Use the serum for three months, then head back to see if you’ll stick with the same blend or adjust the levels of active ingredients.

8 Best Face Masks for Dry Skin, According to Beauty Experts

You’re going to want to plan a self-care Sunday (or any day) ASAP.

The elements can wreak havoc on your complexion. Until spring, cold winter air and dry heat indoors can leave skin parched, but in the summer, hot sun and wind off the water can result in irritated dry skin, too. A soothing face mask can work wonders on thirsty skin — and it’s a great excuse for taking some time for self care to chill and reset.

Traditional cream-based, rinse-off masks are great, but there are new kinds of masks on the market that are ideal for hydrating skin. Here’s the lowdown:

Overnight masks: As the name suggests, overnight masks are applied before bed. Instead of rinsing them off, you sleep in them and wake up with dewy, hydrated skin. Most formulations are thinner, lighter, and easily absorbed, so you don’t have to worry about them transferring to your pillowcases in the middle of the night. As far as moisturization, it’s serious: Our Beauty Lab tests found some overnight masks were even more hydrating than past night cream winners.

Sheet masks: Sheet masks might look silly, but they’re highly effective. They’re made of pieces of paper, cloth, or gel-like substrates that are saturated in single-use packets with serum-like active ingredients. Fit them over your face and just chill for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. For extra soothing power, pop one in the fridge for a few minutes before you use it.

We tested face masks in Good Housekeeping Beauty Lab for moisturization ability, and consulted experts and beauty editors for the best masks on the market. Below are our top-tested picks, as well as expert and editors picks for the best face masks for dry skin.

 

1

Top Lab Performer

Amorepacific Moisture Bound Sleeping Recovery Masque

AMOREPACIFIC
nordstrom.com

$60.00

Amorepacific’s overnight mask won the Beauty Lab’s test, upping skin moisture level by a whopping 49%. The no-rinse mask is like a super-strength night cream. Swap it for your go-to product before bed whenever you need an extra hydration boost.

2

Top Sheet Mask

Skin Laundry Hydrating Facial Sheet Mask

skin laundry
nordstrom.com

$48.00

A great fast-fix for moisturizing and plumping skin in minutes, Skin Laundry’s mask boosted hydration 25% — the best in our Lab’s sheet mask tests! We also like that it has just the right amount of serum in the package so it’s not too messy.

3

Best Value

Bliss In The Honey Mega Moisturizing Lavender Honey Mask

bliss
ulta.com

$15.00

GH beauty director, April Franzino, recommends this bargain pick if you’re looking for a mask with moisturizing honey. Also formulated with soothing lavender oil, this is a great before-bed mask. Use it up to three times a week!

4

Best Splurge

Fresh Crème Ancienne Ultimate Nourishing Honey Mask

fresh
nordstrom.com

$153.00

Yes, it’s pricey, but this Fresh pick is one of the best face masks GH beauty director, April Franzino has ever tried. It’s super-rich and indulgent, made of real honey and shea butter, and full of botanical oils (meadowfoam, jojoba, sunflower seed). “I have super dry, flaky skin all year long, and always apply a face mask in the shower for extra nourishment,” she says. “This feels soothing and pampering, like a mini spa treatment, and never irritates my skin.”

5

Daytime Formula

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask

summer fridays
sephora.com

$48.00

This is associate beauty editor, Pia Velasco’s go-to mask. No need to rinse it off: “It doubles as a primer in case your skin is really dry, so whenever I feel like I need an extra hydration boost I just apply a thin layer before putting on my makeup,” she says.

6 Julep Night Shift Sleeping Mask

julep
amazon.com

$34.00

A richer version of night cream, this no-rinse night mask (formulated with a mix of shea butter and natural oils) raised skin’s hydration levels by a near-record 43% in Lab tests. Our experts liked it so much they gave it a 2018 GH Beauty Award!

7 Clark’s Botanicals Deep Moisture Mask

clark’s botanicals
amazon.com

$72.00

$36.00 (50% off)

Another GH beauty editor favorite is this one from Clark’s Botanicals. “On days when my skin feels extra dry, I leave it on overnight, and my skin is super-soft by morning,” says assistant beauty editor, Paige Stables.

8 Paula’s Choice Radiance Renewal Night Mask

paula’s choice
amazon.com

$36.00

This overnight mask from Paula’s Choice is a light, gel formula. It goes on silky smooth and leaves skin super-soft when you wake up. Great for all skin types, use it once a week or swap it for your night cream every day.

 

Source:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty-products/g26859796/best-face-masks-for-dry-skin/

If Your Office Has Dry Air, This Face Mist Will Save Your Skin

I have a bottle of probiotic supplements in my kitchen cabinet, and whenever I feel like my stomach is a little out of whack, I pick up a bottle of kefir. And in addition to adding good bacteria and microorganisms back into my body, I’m also pretty obsessed with how the concept plays into giving me better-behaving and healthier skin, too. That’s why I initially became so interested in Elemis’ latest launch, the Superfood Kefir Tea Mist, a face mist that utilizes prebiotic technology.

“Prebiotics” is one of the buzziest words in skincare right now. The idea is that prebiotics help feed probiotics, which are the good bacteria that live on your skin. As Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, explained to me previously, healthy skin function (clearer, less-irritated, well-hydrated skin) is associated with a diverse number of organisms on the skin — AKA, a solid balance of good bacteria.

The Elemis Superfood Kefir-Tea Mist feeds the microorganisms you want sticking around with a kefir ferment that utilizes a prebiotic technology, while also hydrating with coconut water, soothing with aloe vera, and protecting with antioxidants from rooibos tea extract. It also can be used as a setting spray or a priming spray, or just simply as a face mist when your skin is feeling a little parched.

In short, it’s a face mist that actually does something for your skin, which makes me feel better about its $33 price tag.

I mostly use it as a quick moisture boost when my office’s dry air has sucked the life from my face, and it instantly relieves any tension or tightness I’m experiencing. Also, I don’t feel like I have to spritz it 45 times a day for it to actually work — all it takes is three quick sprays over my face at lunch, and I’m good. It’s not what some might call a skincare necessity, but it’s a little indulgence that amps up my routine in the winter.

Elemis

While much more research is needed to determine just how beneficial probiotic and prebiotic skincare can be, it’s a concept that I’ve become particularly invested in after a horrendous face mask disaster basically destroyed my skin barrier (what keeps irritants out and moisture in). When your skin barrier is compromised, that healthy level of beneficial bacteria can also be affected.

I’ll have to wait a bit for those studies to surface, so in the meantime, I’m going to keep on spritzing this mist.

 

https://www.instyle.com/beauty/elemis-superfood-kefir-tea-mist-prebiotics