24 Best Over-the-Counter Retinol Serums, Creams, and Treatments of 2022 You Can Buy Without a Prescription


Start by using it two to three times per week (if you have sensitive skin, one to two times is great) and monitor how your complexion reacts. With the right routine, you’ll start to see your skin transform in weeks. 

Sobel Skin Rx 4.5% Retinol Night Treatment

Sobel Skin Rx 4.5% Retinol Night Treatment

If 4.5 percent sounds like a higher retinol concentration than your typical OTC retinol formula, your suspicions are right: Two percent is the usual maximum. Developed by a dermatologist, Sobel Skin Rx 4.5% Retinol Night Treatment offsets the extra retinol — and the potential irritation it can cause — with soothing ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, and macadamia seed oil to help fortify your skin’s barrier. And while the retinol gets to work on fine lines, it gets a helping hand from similarly smoothing peptides

Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream

Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream

Another recommendation Dr. King gives us is Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream, which she says is packed with the brand’s potent vitamin B3 and retinol complex, as well as “glycerin and pro-ceramides to hydrate and support the skin barrier,” she adds. 

It’s the ideal last step to your nighttime skin-care routine to really seal in the good stuff — aka, moisturizing, firming, and rejuvenating ingredients. For similar reasons, King is also a fan of the Rejuveness Skin Tightening Serum.

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream

SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Overnight Cream is a Best of Beauty Award winner that has served as a gateway retinoid for more people than we can count. The innovative brand invented its own molecule by combining the retinoid vitamin A with lactic acid, a moisturizing form of the exfoliating alpha hydroxy acid (or AHA). Using double-conjugated bonds to create the molecule AlphaRet, SkinBetter Science was able to create a gradual release of both the retinoid and the lactic acid into the skin, helping to counter irritation. 

“Because it takes time for the body to break down [this hybrid molecule], the skin doesn’t feel the actives as much,” says cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson. (Built-in soothers, like ceramides, squalane, and bisabolol, help keep the peace.) What’s more: By dissolving dull surface cells, the lactic acid begins brightening skin after only a night or two, so “you get both the instant boost of exfoliation plus the long-term repair from the retinoic acid,” Wilson adds. 

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream

Ideal for thirstier skin types, this rich, lightly-scented Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream hydrates with shea butter, squalane, and a pack of fatty alcohols. Suspended in the mix are retinol and the vitamin-A derivative retinyl propionate. 


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