Time to Consider
a Retinol

Best retinol for men in 2021 Best retinol for men in 2021

Time to Consider
a Retinol

What to know and the best products to buy

If you’ve been enjoying (or simply laughing at) the return of the '90s styles of your youth, you probably want to consider adding a retinol to your grooming routine. If you're noticing deeper lines around your face or simply a less smooth texture to your skin, it can help. If you're annoyed at persistent breakouts, enlarged pores or dark spots, it can assist with that too.

Actually, there really isn't a skin issue that retinol, a popular vitamin A derivative, can't improve. And now's the perfect time to incorporate it into your nightly routine. (Yes, it does tend to make skin more sensitive to sunlight, so it's smart to put it on before bed.) “I love to ramp up exfoliation in the winter months to reduce dryness and flaky winter skin,” says Sofie Pavitt, the in-demand New York aesthetician. “Adding a retinol into your routine will speed up your cell turnover and diminish fine lines and wrinkles.”

While these products deliver miraculous results, they're not magic. And they don't work overnight. Experts advise that since the formulas work by augmenting the biology of the skin, it takes real time to transform the surface of your skin. You should start to see significant changes anywhere from eight to 12 weeks from the time you start using a retinol. But then it just keeps getting better.

But they do pack a punch. A lot of first-timers will notice some mild redness and/or dryness during their first week. That's why it's smart to start slow—only use it every few days and follow with a moisturizer to limit any unwanted side effects. Plus, it helps to choose the right product for you. We've pulled together some of the best for your needs.

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The Best Retinol
Products for Men in 2021

Most Affordable

The Ordinary is known for its no-frills products that are both highly-affordable and highly-effective. Granactive retinoid (or hydroxypinacolone retinoate) is a weaker cousin to the most common prescription ingredient, tretinoin. It's suspended in squalane—a natural antioxidant that hydrates skin without being heavy. This product uses next-generation retinoid technologies which have been shown to achieve better reduction in signs of aging than plain retinol, and without any irritation.

Granactive Retinoid 5%
in Squalane serum,
$10.70 by The Ordinary

To Target Eyes

Concerned about the lines accumulating around your eyes? That's where most men start to see their age on their face. This potent serum is formulated especially for the skin around your eyes, to boost hydration and firm up skin while reducing the look of crow's feet.

Retinol + Ferulic
Triple Correction eye serum,
$69 by Dr. Dennis Gross

Easy
Overnight Option

If you haven't been doing much for your skin and are starting to notice some persistent wrinkles setting in, this is an ideal option. The lightweight cream has been clinically proven to reduce the look of expression lines and deep wrinkles while you sleep.

Deep Wrinkle night cream,
$16.98 by RoC

The Prescription

If you want prescription-strength results you need to speak with a dermatologist. Hims makes that simple via quick, telemedicine consultations with a doctor who will prescribe you a custom-blend cream formulated with tretinoin, otherwise known as Retin-A, the strength best suited for your skin. There's also niacinamide, to help repair damage, soothe inflammation and minimize redness.

Rx Anti-Aging cream,
$45 by hims

Most Powerful

Powered by the highest concentration of retinol (1%) and botanical extracts (chamomile and frankincense), this highly effective cream works to improve your skin's texture as well as to calm any signs of sensitivity. Plus, a little goes a long way—you only need about four drops to cover your whole face.

Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength
refining cream,
$88 by SkinCeuticals

Babchi herb illustration

Natural Alternative

Natural Alternative

Bakuchiol is an extract of the seeds and leaves of an herb called babchi. It’s said to soften wrinkles and fine lines, boost collagen production and lessen dark spots on skin. And in scientific trials against retinol, it was found to be equally effective.

Squalane + Phyto-Retinol serum,
$72 by Biossance

NOTE: Items featured in this story are independently selected by the editorial team. Purchasing via our links may earn Valet. a portion of the sale, which helps fund our editorial mission.

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