11 Best Retinol Serums For Youthful Skin

best retinol serum singapore

Retinol – the hero ingredient that dermatologists and skincare gurus can’t stop talking about. Lauded as the gold standard in anti-ageing, retinol is something you should be looking into as early as your twenties if you want to maintain youthful skin. If you’re looking for something lightweight and non-greasy, retinol serums are your best bet. Need recommendations? Read on for our roundup of the best retinol serums in Singapore!

What is retinol and what are its benefits?

bottle of serum on a leaf with a mirror against white background
(Credit: Alesia Kozik / Unsplash)

According to Cleveland Clinic, retinol is a form of vitamin A that is used as a topical treatment for skin. It is scientifically proven to increase skin cell turnover rate, exfoliate skin, and boost collagen production. This is why it is a holy grail anti-ageing ingredient that many swear by as it helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and keep your skin looking plump and supple. Retinol can also be used to treat acne and lighten acne scars. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the benefits of retinol for your skin:

  • Reduces appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Lightens age spots
  • Evens skin tone and treats hyperpigmentation
  • Reduces acne and acne scars

How to choose retinol serums?

woman holding a bottle of serum and applying it on the back of her hands
(Credit: SHVETS Production / Pexels)

There are many different types of retinol products that you can choose from both over-the-counter and via a dermatologists’ prescription (e.g. Adapalene and Tretinoin). If it’s your first time buying retinol OTC, here are some key factors to note. 

  • Concentration

OTC retinol products usually contain about 0.1% to 2% of retinol, with 1% being the most common concentration used. Not all brands specify the retinol concentration – but when they don’t, it is usually relatively low. For beginners, we recommend starting small with something below 1%. Use it to slowly build your skin’s tolerance towards the active ingredient and work your way up. After about six to eight weeks, you can consider increasing the strength of retinol you’re using to boost efficacy.

  • Formula

Apart from retinol strength, always read the fine print to know what else you’re getting into. Take note of accompanying ingredients that the retinol product comes with that can help to boost its efficacy, soothe your skin, and build your skin barrier at the same time. Good accompanying ingredients include hyaluronic acid for hydration, niacinamide for brightening, ceramides and peptides for skin barrier repair, and licorice to soothe. 

  • Packaging

Retinol is an active ingredient that degrades when it comes into contact with light and air. Therefore, it’s important to look at how it is packaged to ensure that it stays fresh on the shelf until you empty it. Make sure that the packaging is opaque so that light doesn’t come in. Pumps are also recommended as it keeps the product in the packaging. Alternatively, retinol capsules are an amazing packaging method that’s great for travelling too.

How to use retinol safely?

different types of creams against pink background
(Credit: Paula’s Choice Singapore / Facebook)

Retinol is a powerful ingredient when it comes to skincare. But with great results comes side effects. We’re talking about purging, irritation, and flakey skin that many people with sensitive skin go through when using retinol. The key to avoiding these skincare mishaps is to use retinol properly – especially if your skin is particularly reactive and sensitive. Try following these tips when using the best retinol serums in Singapore!

  • Start slow and work your way up

Start slow, start low. Pick a beginner-friendly retinol product or serum with a low concentration (below 1%) if it’s your first time using the ingredient on your skin. In terms of frequency, you can try the 1-2-3 method. Use it once a week for the first week, then increase it to twice a week, and subsequently thrice a week. This gives your skin time to get used to retinol and prevents it from irritation and drying out.

  • Hydrate and moisturise using the sandwich method

Retinol is known to be drying, so it is vital to moisturise before and after. You can consider layering it between a hyaluronic serum or any hydrating serum, and follow with a moisturiser. This helps to keep your skin barrier protected. You can also look out for the best retinol serums in Singapore that have ceramides and peptides in their formula. 

  • Use retinol at night and use sunscreen in the day

Retinol causes the skin to be more sensitive to UV rays, which is why it is recommended to only use it at night. After you use retinol, always make sure to apply sunscreen the next day to protect your skin from UV damage. 

  • Do not layer it with actives like vitamin C, AHA, BHA, and Benzoyl Peroxide

Retinol is an active ingredient which reacts badly when mixed with other active ingredients. Do not use it with ingredients like vitamin C, AHA, BHA, and benzoyl peroxide. Instead, you can use retinol at night, and vitamin C in the day.

Pro Tip: You can also try skin-cycling, which means you set a day in the week to exfoliate with AHA and BHA, a day for retinol, and other days for hydration. 

Best retinol serums in Singapore for beginners (<1%)

1. La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum

La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum best retinol serum singapore
(Credit: La Roche Posay Official Store)

La Roche Posay is a reputable skincare brand recommended by dermatologists, and you can trust them to deliver some of the best retinol serums in Singapore. The La Roche Posay Retinol B3 Serum (available on  La Roche Posay Official Store) proves this point. It combines pure and gradual release retinol, which ensures a progressive release of the active ingredients so it won’t irritate sensitive skin. This is why the La Roche Posay Retinol is one of the best retinol serums for beginners as it is slow and gentle. The formula also contains niacinamide which minimises pore appearance, and glycerin, a humectant that keeps your skin hydrated. 

Retinol concentration: 0.3% (0.1% pure retinol, 0.2% progressive retinol)
Other key ingredients: 2% niacinamide, 10% glycerin

2. Kiehl’s Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum

Kiehl’s Retinol Skin-Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum
(Credit: Sasa Official Store)

Much like every other Kiehl’s product, the Kiehl’s Retinol Skin Renewing Micro Dose Serum (available on Sasa Official Store) doesn’t disappoint. It is one of the best retinol serums for beginners as it uses micro-dose technology, which means the retinol is measured to a precise dose that is just enough to stimulate cell renewal. The Kiehl’s retinol serum is also formulated with ceramides and peptides which strengthen your skin barrier, and build up your skin’s tolerance towards retinol. We also love the packaging which comes with a pump – for most users, one pump is enough to cover your entire face and even the neck area.

Retinol concentration: 0.1%
Other key ingredients: 2% ceramides, 4% peptides

3. Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum

Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum best retinol serum singapore
(Credit: Olay Official Store)

The Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum (available on Olay Official Store) is one of the best retinol serums for beginners that’s widely recommended by dermatologists in Singapore. It is formulated with concentrated Retinol 24 Complex and niacinamide, which works together to reduce fine lines and brighten the skin. On top of these key ingredients, the Olay Retinol 24 serum also contains amino peptides, which promote collagen production. But why 24? The product is formulated to work on your skin for 24 hours, so that you can reap the full benefits of its ingredients! While the retinol concentration is not specified by the brand, this product has been reviewed to be non-irritating for beginners and hydrating for the skin.

Retinol concentration: Unspecified
Other key ingredients: Niacinamide

4. Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Anti-Aging Line Erasing Night Serum

Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Anti-Aging Line Erasing Night Serum
(Credit: Elizabeth Arden Official Store)

Retinol is an active ingredient that degrades overtime if not stored properly. That’s why many choose to opt for retinol capsules, which ensure that the retinol serum remains potent by keeping it out of light and air. The Elizabeth Arden Retinol Ceramide Anti-Aging Line Erasing Night Serum (available on Elizabeth Arden Official Store) is one of the best retinol capsules in Singapore that is 76% more potent than unencapsulated retinol based on the brand’s testing. Each capsule gives you a pre-measured single dose of retinol serum, eliminating the guesswork for you. Furthermore, it is also travel-friendly and TSA-approved, so you can keep your skin plump while on your adventures.

Retinol concentration: Unspecified
Other key ingredients: Ceramides

5. Bio Essence Bio-Age Luxe Retinoid Ampoule

best retinol serum singapore Bio Essence Bio-Age Luxe Retinoid Ampoule
(Credit: Bio Essence Official Store)

Instead of retinol, the BIO ESSENCE Bio Age Luxe Retinoid Anti-Aging Ampoule Serum (available on Bio Essence Official Store) contains retinoid. It is another vitamin A derivative that’s estimated to be 10 times more stable than retinol – which means that it does not oxidise as easily and you can enjoy the product fresh for a longer time. If you tend to forget to cap your skincare bottles properly, this is a great option for you. In terms of formulation, the Bio Essence Ampoule Serum also contains anti-ageing peptides with hydrating actives to keep your skin firm and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Retinoid concentration: Unspecified
Other key ingredients: Peptides 

6. Cerave Skin Renewing Retinol Serum

Cerave Skin Renewing Retinol Serum
(Credit: 7amlab)

If you think that an effective retinol serum has to cost you a fortune, that’s because you haven’t met the CeraVe Skin Renewing Resurfacing Retinol Serum (available on 7amlab). It is one of the best retinol products in Singapore that has been recommended by dermatologists. Coming in at an affordable $30, the CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum is jam-packed with skin-loving ingredients like hyaluronic acid to hydrate, niacinamide to brighten and soothe, and three essential ceramides to lock in moisture and restore your skin barrier. It also uses encapsulated retinol, a slow-release form of retinol that is gentler and more stable. This is great for beginners and those with sensitive skin!

Retinol concentration: 0.3%
Other key ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, ceramides

7. Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum

Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum
(Credit: Murad Official Store)

We can’t not include the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum (available on Murad Official Store) in this of the best retinol serums in Singapore. After all, it’s touted to be the number one retinol product in the US. The brand is founded by a board-certified dermatologist and pharmacist, so the Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Serum only contains ingredients that are dermatologist-approved. Its retinol is powered by Tri-Active Technology, which comprises three types of retinol. This includes a fast-acting retinoid, time-released retinol, and a booster. The different releases ensure that the formula is gentle on skin yet effective. The serum also contains hyaluronic acid and Swertia flower extract, which supports skin resilience.

Retinol concentration: Unspecified
Other key ingredients: Swertia flower extract, hyaluronic acid

8. RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Serum

RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Serum best retinol serum singapore
(Credit: Strawberrynet SG Official Store)

As the 2021 Glamour Beauty Award Winner, the RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Daily Serum (available on Strawberrynet SG Official Store) is one of the best retinol serums in Singapore that deserves a spot on your vanity. It is clinically proven to visibly reduce pores in 94% of women in just one week, and reduce fine lines in eight weeks. Based on the reviews we’ve seen online, this claim proves to be true for many users. So we say, trust the process! This RoC retinol serum is balanced with Ashwagandha, a soothing ingredient with high oxidant content. It also contains squalene, which helps to retain skin moisture and repair skin barrier.

Retinol concentration: Unspecified
Other key ingredients: Squalene, Ashwagandha

Best retinol serums in Singapore (1% and above)

9. Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Anti-aging Booster Serum

Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Anti-aging Booster Serum best retinol serum singapore
(Credit: Paula’s Choice Singapore / Facebook)

Supercharged with peptides, ceramides, oat, and licorice extract, the Paula’s Choice Retinol Anti-Aging Booster Serum (available on Paula’s Choice Official Store) is all about firmness and glow. With a relatively high concentration of retinol, this is a great option for those looking for quicker solutions to fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. It uses a pure form of retinol in a slow-release delivery system that ensures that the formula is tolerable. The oat and licorice content in this Paula’s Choice retinol product also helps to soothe your skin and prevent any signs of irritation. 

Retinol concentration: 1%
Other key ingredients: Peptides, ceramides, oat and licorice extract

10. SOMETHINC Level 1% Encapsulated Retinol

SOMETHINC Level 1% Encapsulated Retinol
(Credit: Somethinc Official Store)

Budget babes, take note! SOMETHINC is an Indonesian beauty brand that has been endorsed by Han So Hee, known for quality products that come with an affordable price tag. The SOMETHINC Level 1% Encapsulated Retinol (available on Somethinc Official Store) is vegan-friendly, dermatologist-tested, and uses a non-irritating formula that won’t do harm to sensitive skin. Apart from encapsulated retinol, it also contains soothing ingredients, hyaluronic acid, and squalene to give you that supple skin you’re aiming for. If you want to start young on anti-ageing, this product also claims to be suitable for teenagers as young as 17 years old.

Retinol concentration: 1%
Other key ingredients: Squalene, hyaluronic acid

11. PROYA Retinol Ruby Serum

PROYA Retinol Ruby Serum
(Credit: Proya Official Store)

Widely praised on Chinese social media app Xiaohongshu, PROYA is a brand that you should keep under your radar if you’re looking for effective anti-ageing skincare. The PROYA Retinol Ruby Essence (available on Proya Official Store) is one of the best retinol serums in Singapore that contains 1% retinol that uses sustained-release technology to slow-drip the compound to your skin. It is also compounded with the essence of wild soybeans to help exfoliate and stimulate skin regeneration. The PROYA Ruby Essence is a win packaging wise as well with its luxe bottle that dispenses just the right dosage with each pump!

Retinol concentration: 1%
Other key ingredients: 20% tetrapeptides, wild soybean essence

Renew your skin with the best retinol serums in Singapore

From the Olay Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Serum, RoC, to the Paula’s Choice 1% Retinol Serum, take your pick from the best retinol serums in Singapore to maintain youthful skin! Stretch your dollar by buying them during our 12.12 Birthday Sale, where value deals await. For more skincare recs, check out our roundup of the best eye creams and the best sunscreens in Singapore!

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