5 of the Best Drugstore Retinol Serums for Every Skin Type
Retinol is a skincare a MVP. It helps minimize and prevent wrinkles, boosts collagen and evens-out skin texture—and it's available at your local Canadian drugstore.
Buzzwords come and go in skincare, but retinol is an everlasting star. A derivative of vitamin A, this superstar ingredient boosts collagen and skin cell production while exfoliating skin, unclogging pores and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The result? Skin looks smooth and refreshed, like you just had a mini-facial—so it’s no wonder retinol’s forever buzzy.
As Vancouver-based dermatologist, Dr. Monica Li previously told Best Health, “Retinol is key. It helps produce collagen, so it helps reduce fine lines and shrink the appearance of the size of pores.” Results can be visible in under three months (as long as you use it consistently), and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune—there are many standout retinol serums available at your local drugstore.
But before we get into our product roundup, a warning: It’s important to start slow with retinol—and stock up on moisturizer. “It can be drying and irritating, but it’s still effective even if used just two to three times a week,” says Li. If you have super dry skin, apply a layer of moisturizer after (and/or before) applying retinol.
Read on for five of the best drugstore retinol serums for every skin type.
(Related: 8 Drugstore Eye Creams for Every Skin Need)
Best Drugstore Retinol For Newbies: RoC Skincare Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules
These award-winning, best-selling biodegradable capsules contain RoC’s exclusive retinol formula, one of the strongest retinoids you can purchase without a prescription, plus bio-derived antioxidants that soothe and hydrate skin. Why the capsules? They take the guesswork out of how much product to apply, and also help keep the retinol potent.
RoC Skincare Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules, $35, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Retinol For Sensitive Skin: Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum
This creamy serum contains “encapsulated retinol,” meaning it’s encased in a protective barrier (picture bubble wrap, if you will) that dissolves slowly into the skin to keep the ingredients potent. It contains two botanical retinol alternatives, arophira and bakuchiol, as well as chlorophyll for natural antioxidant power.
Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum, $28, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Retinol For Oily or Acne-Prone Skin: CeraVe Skin Resurfacing Retinol Serum
Slow-release, encapsulated retinol is also the delivery method in this serum that targets post-acne scars and uneven skin texture caused by larger pores. It gently exfoliates the skin’s outer layer, leaving it smooth, soft and more even in texture. The formula includes three ceramides (the fat cells that make up our skin’s outer layer), plus niacinamide and hyaluronic acid to hydrate and retain moisture.
CeraVe Skin Resurfacing Retinol Serum, $31, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Retinol For Mature or Dry Skin: La Roche-Posay Anti-Aging Retinol B3 Serum
The combination of two types of retinol plus vitamin B3 (aka hydrating niacinamide) makes this serum extra-potent without irritation. It contains a complex of pure retinol that sinks into skin immediately, plus a retinol that’s released slowly. Ideal for those with deeper wrinkles and fine lines, loss of elasticity and damage caused by sun, it’s tested and proven safe even for sensitive skin.
La Roche-Posay Anti-Aging Retinol B3 Serum, $68, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Best Drugstore Retinol For Vets: L’Oréal Paris Serum with 0.3% Pure Retinol
If you’ve been using a retinol serum regularly and wear sunscreen faithfully, you could be ready to move to a stronger concentration. Made with one of the most powerful over-the-counter forms of pure retinol, this serum quickly stimulates the cell renewal process, leaving skin smoother and more toned. After two weeks, deep wrinkles can be visibly reduced.
L’Oréal Paris Serum with 0.3% Pure Retinol, Night Serum for Face, Fragrance-Free Revitalift Triple Power, $34, shoppersdrugmart.ca
Next: 6 Drugstore Vitamin C Serums That Are Actually Amazing