The Best Retinol Serum – Test Winner and Insider Tip

Best Retinol Serum

Do you dream of smooth, plump and radiant skin? A retinol serum is THE beauty product with the most effective anti-ageing active ingredient.

We introduce you to the best retinol serums, tell you everything you need to know about the active ingredient and how to use the serum correctly. Our retinol serum test winner is the high-dose Colibri Skincare Vitamin A Serum.

Colibri Skincare Vitamin A Serum

Colibri Skincare Vitamin A Serum

Highest retinol dosage of all products (0.6%). It can effectively reduce wrinkles and blemishes, lighten hyperpigmentation and brighten the complexion.

It is the most effective retinol serum because it has one of the highest retinol concentrations as well as all effective types of retinol in its composition and also contains nourishing ingredients.

This makes the Colibri serum our test winner. It is rich in retinol and at the same time more gentle on the skin, which is not always the case with other serums.

Olay regenerist retinol 24 night serum

The best retinol serums tested in 2024

With 0.3% retinol, it is in the middle of the field, which means that most people should be able to use it without side effects, despite the relatively high dosage.

The Olay serum is milder overall. It has a lower retinol dosage than the test winner, but is also cheaper in price. The serum is therefore recommended for “retinol beginners” and anyone with sensitive skin.

Product facts:

  • 3% Retinol Granactive Retinoid is a milder retinol derivative (corresponds to approx. 0.3 % retinol)
  • 0.01% pure retinol
  • Glycerin moisturizes
  • Niacinamide soothes the skin
  • Without perfume
  • 40 ml

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

The best retinol serums tested in 2024

Thanks to 0.1% retinol, it is very mild and offers a safe start for everyone.

With 0.1% retinol, it is the mildest serum, making it particularly suitable for anyone with very sensitive skin. If you want to play it safe and prevent skin irritation, this serum is recommended.

Product facts:

  • 0.1% pure retinol
  • Stimulates collagen formation, reduces wrinkles in the long term, improves skin texture, unclogs pores, lightens hyperpigmentation such as scars, pimple marks and age spots
  • Suitable for acne-prone and sensitive skin
  • Ceramides strengthen the skin barrier
  • Niacnimaide and lactritz extract ensure a more even skin tone, soothe redness and irritation
  • Without perfume
  • 30 ml

The best retinol serum from our test is the Colibri Skincare Vitamin A Serum. Not only is it highly dosed with 0.6% retinol complex, but it also comes with additional nourishing ingredients to protect the skin from irritation.

With continuous use, you can reduce wrinkles, blemishes and pigmentation spots. Your skin is given a more even complexion and appears plumper and more radiant.

Despite its nourishing ingredients, the 0.6% dosage of retinol can be too strong for inexperienced and sensitive skin and can dry out the skin. It is better to use milder retinol serums that are also effective but do not overstimulate your skin.

Retinol is a form of vitamin A and plays an important role in cell division and renewal. The body does not produce retinol itself, but absorbs the building blocks of retinol through food or cosmetic products.

What is retinol serum

When applied to the skin, retinol and its precursor are transformed into retinoic acid, which regenerates the skin from the inside out. It stimulates collagen formation and makes the skin more elastic and plumper.

With regular use of a retinol serum, wrinkles are reduced and the skin looks fresher, younger and more radiant.

Beauty fun fact: Did you know that retinol is the only active ingredient to win a Nobel Prize? Its discovery by Swiss chemist Paul Karrer was rewarded with a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1937.

Retinol ensures faster formation of new and healthy skin cells. By stimulating skin regeneration, a retinol serum has the following effects:

  • Reduction of spots and blackheads through improved sebum flow
  • Collagen formation is stimulated, which reduces wrinkles
  • Provides better skin structure through thicker and more robust skin
  • Lightens hyperpigmentation such as pimple marks, age spots and scars
  • Has an antioxidant effect and therefore protects against free radicals

The very next day of using retinol, I noticed that my complexion had improved somewhat. My skin looks more rested and my complexion looks more even. My spots also seem to heal faster and the skin can “flake off” a little in the affected area.

Retinol has now become my favorite active ingredient and I have been using it 2 to 3 times a week for three years. In the long term, it helps me with several skin problems at once: It lightens my pimple marks, provides a more even complexion and reduces fine wrinkles in the long term, even though I don’t have many wrinkles yet.

Initially, I was put off by the active ingredient retinol, with its possible side effects and all the things you have to be aware of. If the retinol dosage is too high and your skin is sensitive, it can cause a burning sensation on the skin, the skin starts to peel and becomes much more sensitive.

For beginners, I therefore recommend slowly incorporating the active ingredient into your routine and starting with a lower dosage as with the CeraVe Retinol Serum. You can gradually increase the frequency and concentration. If your skin is more robust and experienced, you can start directly with the Colibri Retinol Serum.

Retinol is one of the best-researched ingredients in cosmetics and is considered the most effective anti-ageing active ingredient. Multiple studies have already confirmed the following anti-ageing effects of retinol: Increased collagen production and skin thickness, reduction of fine wrinkles, blemishes and pigmentation spots.

You can find a selection of the studies here:

Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in vivo

Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol)

A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin

Have you found the perfect retinol serum? Great! Then we’ll explain how to use a retinol serum correctly here:

How often should I use Retinol Serum?

You can use your retinol serum every day without any problems. Once a day is perfectly sufficient. It is best to use it in the evening, as it makes the skin more sensitive to sunlight. A high level of sun protection is therefore essential. For retinol beginners, a slow start with one to two applications per week is recommended.

How long does it take for retinol to take effect?

As with almost all cosmetic products, you can’t expect miracles with retinol serum. You won’t have wrinkle-free skin straight away, but will have to be patient. Nevertheless, with regular use, the skin can look firmer and more even after just one month.

When should you use a retinol serum?

Anti-ageing products can be used from around your mid-20s. From the age of 25, the skin ageing process can no longer be stopped and cosmetic products such as a retinol serum or a hyaluronic serum can provide intensive care for the skin with their rich ingredients.

Retinol should always be used in the evening before going to bed. During the day, you should avoid the active ingredient as it makes the skin more sensitive to UV radiation and always wear a good sunscreen.

Important: If you are pregnant, you should not use retinol. Dermatologists recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women avoid retinol. Also make sure that other cosmetics do not contain retinoids.

When you start using retinol for the first time, irritation may occur. The extent of the irritation depends on your skin and the concentration of the retinol serum. The most common side effects of retinol are as follows:

  • Dryness
  • Tightness
  • Redness
  • Sensitivity
  • Dandruff
  • Impurities

It is therefore recommended that you have a moisturizing and barrier-strengthening skincare product in your routine to prevent and soothe irritation. Start with a lower concentration of retinol to begin with – for example, CeraVe Retinol Serum. Also allow a few weeks to get used to it, during which you can expect side effects. In other words: make sure that you don’t have any important events on your schedule during this time, for example.

What is retinol serum good for?

A retinol serum stimulates skin regeneration. This stimulates collagen formation, reduces wrinkles, lightens pigmentation spots and combats and prevents blemishes.

What do dermatologists say about retinol?

Dermatologists recommend retinol. Due to the effect of retinol, it is prescribed by dermatologists to combat acne. Dermatologists also confirm that retinol improves the appearance of the skin and it is also one of the best researched active ingredients for the skin.

Is retinol really that good?

Retinol is not only the best, but also the most researched ingredient when it comes to anti-ageing. Its effect ensures faster cell renewal and stimulates collagen formation. It thus counteracts the first signs of skin ageing and makes the skin more radiant and plumper.

What is better than retinol?

When it comes to reducing wrinkles, blemishes and pigmentation spots, no ingredient comes close to the effectiveness of retinol. Nevertheless, vitamin C is a good alternative, which ensures a radiant and more even complexion and protects against skin ageing with its antioxidant effect.

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