Retinol is one of those skin care ingredients that’s known for tackling a number of concerns.

“Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, promotes cellular turnover, which can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation,” licensed esthetician, Alexis Pfropper, told 21Ninety.

Pfropper says retinol it stimulates collagen production, leading to firmer, smoother skin and can help unclog pores, and improve overall skin texture and tone.” 

There is one caveat, however. Retinol is potent. High concentrations of retinol irritate sensitive skin with symptoms of redness, itching, or burning sensations. The good news is that there are retinol products made specifically for sensitive skin. That includes lower concentrations of the powerful ingredient as well as a few other forms of vitamin A derivatives.

“Retinol palmitate, retinyl propionate, and retinal acetate are safe for daily use with little to no side effects,” esthetician, Rachel Lozina, told 21Ninety.

Why Are Retinol Products Good for Sensitive Skin?

When formulated with sensitive skin in mind, retinol still touts a number of benefits.

“Retinol helps in improving skin texture and tone, making it suitable for individuals with sensitive skin looking to address unevenness,” Dr. Simran Sethi said.

Sethi explains that retinol encourages cell turnover. That means the dark spots and damaged skin cells cycle out. Then, new skin cells will come in.

“Despite its reputation for being harsh, retinol can still benefit sensitive skin when used in lower concentrations and combined with soothing ingredients,” Pfropper concluded. 

Best Retinal Acetate Serum

PEACH & LILY Retinal For All Renewing Serum

PEACH & LILY’s Retinal For All Renewing Serum is a vitamin A derivative that boasts the benefits of retinol without the irritation of the hero ingredient. Its vegan formula still aids in gentle exfoliation and wrinkle-reduction. Plus, it evens out skin tone too. In addition to retinal, this serum also has ceramides. They improve skin barrier function by making it more resistant to environmental stressors. 

Best Retinol Gel

Cocokind Beginner Retinol Gel 0.1%

Photo Courtesy of Cocokind

Cocokind’s Beginner Retinol Gel 0.1% uses a proprietary formula that lets the retinol slowly penetrate the skin. That way, a large amount of retinol doesn’t penetrate your skin at once. Therefore, avoiding irritation. The gel is also supported by aloe, cica, and squalane. These ingredients provide ample moisture to the skin as the retinol turns over dead and damaged cells. 

Best Retinol Serum

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum

Versed’s Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum targets dark spots, acne, clogged pores, and dullness on sensitive skin. Its formula blends retinol and retinol alternatives offering effective results for sensitive skin. That said, this serum is also paraben- and hydroquinone-free with no added fragrances

Best Retinol Spot Treatment

Hero Cosmetics Rescue Retinol Nighttime Renewing Cream

Hero Cosmetics’ Rescue Retinol Nighttime Renewing Cream targets dark spots to help even out your skin’s complexion. The smooth cream pumps out in small enough amounts so that you can glide it over areas you’d like to even out. 

Best Retinyl Propionate Cream

Olay Regenerist Retinol24 + Peptide Night Moisturizer 

Olay’s Regenerist Retinol24 + Peptide Night Moisturizer soaks into your skin overnight. This moisturizer features a unique combination of retinol and retinyl propionate paired with glycerin and niacinamide. 

Our editors love finding you the best products and offers! If you purchase something by clicking on one of the affiliate links on our website, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.