Best retinol creams and serums in Australia

We compared and tested more than 30 retinol products in Australia to find the 10 best retinols for any purpose, budget and skin type.

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The best retinol creams and serums in Australia

How did we pick this list?

Alongside extensive research, our editorial team compared and tested a range of retinol products to find the ones that performed best. We considered factors such as the purpose and formulation, the price and the targeted skin type. This is how we came up with a list of the 10 best retinols in Australia.

Read our full methodology below.


Best overall retinol: Paula's Choice Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum

Pros

  • Formulation is moisturising and hydrating
  • Cruelty-free

Cons

  • Can be irritating if too much is used at one time
  • Some users said it felt too greasy

Price (RRP): $59

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Paula's Choice

Why we chose it

Our pick for the best overall retinol is the Paula's Choice Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Serum. While the name says it specifically targets anti-aging, don't let that fool you – this product can do it all.

The stable formulation is a blend of 0.1% retinol, which encourages skin cell turnover, as well as vitamin C to brighten and squalene to hydrate and nourish. This brilliant combination is put into a silky soft serum that works to seriously transform your skin.

The result? This retinol serum softens the appearance of wrinkles and improves firmness and uneven skin tone, overall giving you a radiant complexion.


Best retinol cream: Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Pros

  • Oil-free, paraben-free and sulphate-free
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Some users complained of a strong fragrance

Price (RRP): $130

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at Sephora

Why we chose it

Our choice for the best retinol cream is the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream. The formulation can transform your skin, while still being gentle enough for everyday use.

This powerful cream is formulated with a retinol tri-active technology – a fast-acting retinoid, a time-released retinol and a retinol booster. It's also got niacinamide to strengthen and smooth the skin barrier and red algae extracts (which are super high in peptides) to keep your skin hydrated and firm.

This cream is suitable for all skin types – it doesn't matter if your skin is oily or dry. It melts into the skin with ease and has a lightweight finish.


Best retinol serum: PETER THOMAS ROTH Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum

Pros

  • Fragrance-free, paraben-free and sulphate-free
  • Suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • Some reviewers claim this made their skin break out

Price (RRP): $100

Buy at Sephora

Why we chose it

Our top pick for the best retinol serum is the PETER THOMAS ROTH Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum. This potent formulation contains 1.5% retinol that's been microencapsulated to ensure maximum results with minimal irritation. It's also time-released to ensure the product is working continuously throughout the night.

While it's thought that retinol and vitamin C don't go together, if they're formulated together purposefully, they can do wonders for your skin. This serum has both vitamins C and E, so while the retinol does the work, the vitamins provide amazing antioxidant benefits that help keep the skin looking bright and hydrated.


Best retinol oil: Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil

Pros

  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Lightweight formulation

Cons

  • Some reviewers claim it broke their skin out

Price (RRP): $160

Buy at Amazon

Why we chose it

Our top pick for the best retinol oil is the Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil. If you want to add retinol into your routine, but don't want to give up on facial oils, you're going to want to try this one.

This evening treatment is formulated with trans-retinol ester, which works to reduce the appearance of pores and fine lines, all while improving pigmentation. Sunday Riley has decided to blend this with blue tansy and chamomile to soothe any redness and irritation, and avocado oil to hydrate the skin.


Best retinol eye cream: Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex

Pros

  • A little goes a very long way
  • Positive reviews online show real results for fine lines and wrinkles

Cons

  • You need to build up a tolerance to this before using it nightly
  • It cannot be used during the day

Price (RRP): $119

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at Active Skin

Why we chose it

Our choice for the best retinol eye cream is the Dermalogica Age Reversal Eye Complex. The main ingredient in this formula is of course retinol, so if you're looking to reverse signs of ageing, this is the product for you.

This eye cream works to stimulate cell turnover, retexturise the delicate eye area and protect the skin's collagen and elastin reserves. It's also been formulated with peptides and vitamin C to strengthen the skin barrier, and niacinamide and caffeine to reduce puffiness.

This product even made its way onto our list of the best eye creams, specifically as the product that targets wrinkles and anti-aging concerns the best.


Best affordable retinol: The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

Pros

  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Fragrance-free

Cons

  • Some users claimed it didn’t do much for their wrinkles

Price (RRP): $17.90

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at RY.COM.AU

Why we chose it

Our pick for the best affordable retinol is The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion. It's a moderate-strength, lightweight emulsion that's been formulated for minimal irritation, making it also the perfect pick for a first time user.

This serum is formulated with two different forms of retinoid: Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate (HPR) and a form of pure retinol. This combination ensures the product is easily absorbed, while feeling super gentle on the skin.

Whether you're looking to reverse signs of aging or improve the look of pigmentation and acne, this gentle and affordable solution can help.


Best high-strength retinol: Medik8 Crystal Retinal 10

Pros

  • Suitable for all skin types
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

Cons

  • Only suitable for those with extensive retinol experience

Price (RRP): $153.60

Buy at Adore Beauty
Buy at Active Skin
Buy at Oz Hair and Beauty deals

Why we chose it

Our pick for the best high-strength retinol is the Medik8 Crystal Retinal 10. This is the product you need if you're looking to fight ageing and refine skin texture.

Medik8 has multiple retinol-based formulations, all with different strengths, but this is, by far, the most advanced. It's formulated with retinal, which is the closest vitamin A molecule to retinoic acid. The retinal has been encapsulated to ensure it is slowly released into the skin with minimal irritation.

To ensure the skin stays hydrated and nourished, Medik8 has also included hyaluronic acid, glycerin and vitamin E in its product. This is all packed into a super lightweight formulation that easily absorbs into the skin.


Best retinol for beginners: Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum

Pros

  • Formulated without additional fillers, dyes, phthalates, sulphates or fragrances
  • Lightweight formulation

Cons

  • Results are not immediate

Price (RRP): $60

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Chemist Warehouse
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

Our choice for the best retinol for beginners is the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum.

The potent yet gentle formulation is created with Olay's Retinoid Complex – a combination containing pure retinol, retinyl propionate, niacinamide and amino peptides. All of these ingredients work together to penetrate deep into the skin, without irritation.

Alongside this, this serum also provides plenty of hydration and niacinamide to control any unwanted redness. We love this product so much that it even got its own review.


Best retinol for sensitive skin: La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

Pros

  • Formulated without alcohol or sulphates
  • Lightweight formula is suitable for all skin types

Cons

  • The dropper-style bottle means that it is exposed to air (which can change the colour of the product)

Price (RRP): $69.95

Buy at Amazon
Buy at Chemist Warehouse
Buy at Adore Beauty

Why we chose it

Our choice for the best retinol for sensitive skin is the La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum. In fact, this product has been designed with sensitive skin in mind.

The serum has been formulated with a complex of pure retinol for instant release and gradual retinol for progressive release. These active ingredients work together to fight visible signs of ageing without compromising the skin's barrier.

The supporting ingredients, vitamin B3 and 10% glycerin, work to keep the skin hydrated and retain its natural moisture barrier. If you're keen to learn more, you can check out our dedicated review of this product.


Best plant-based retinol: OLE HENRIKSEN Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum

Pros

  • Free from parabens, sulfates and phthalates
  • Vegan

Cons

  • May not be suitable for sensitive skin types

Price (RRP): $85

Buy at Sephora
Buy at eBay

Why we chose it

Our choice for the best clean and sustainable retinol is the OLE HENRIKSEN Glow Cycle Retin-ALT Power Serum. It's made with a plant-based alternative to retinol called Bakuchiol.

Bakuchiol is derived from the Ayurvedic Babchi herb, and it works to even skin tone, smooth texture and fade the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It's also gentle enough to be used during the day, especially since it doesn't have the harsh properties that retinol does.

The formula has a slight lavender tint which is there to help neutralise and brighten the skin.


What is retinol and what can it do?

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. It's one of the only skincare ingredients that's been extensively tested and studied, so we know that it truly does work.

Retinol works to increase the rate of cell turnover in the skin, thus helping with an array of issues such as anti-aging, pigmentation and acne.

How do you use retinol?

Retinol comes in all sorts of different forms, with the main two being creams and serums.

At times, retinol can be irritating, especially if too much is used at one time. It's highly recommended to start slow. Beginners should use it once a week, slowly building that up to every other night.

Try to avoid using other active ingredients at the same time. Instead, follow retinol up with a gentle and hydrating moisturiser.

Retinol is best used at night, as it can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. Always make sure you're lathering on plenty of sunscreen during the day.

Methodology

21
Brands considered
30+
Products compared
10
Best retinol products chosen
  • Our editorial team has extensive experience in beauty product comparison and testing.
  • We looked at over 30 products from 21 brands. We excluded some brands that weren’t widely available in Australia.
  • The products on this list were chosen by our editorial team and were not selected based on commercial relationships.

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