10 Best High End Retinols for All Skin Types

Even though you can find decent skincare products on a budget, we all love a little treat for the senses every now and again.

High-end skincare differs from budget-friendly products in more than one aspect.

For example, high-end products often have a combination of ingredients to boost the effectiveness of the active ingredient inside the product, while budget options usually focus on the active ingredient only.

Other than that, high-end products typically come in a nicer, more aesthetically pleasing packaging, they have a more luxurious texture, and they tend to have a mild fragrance to seal the entire experience.

Lastly, high-end skincare products are typically made with more expensive raw ingredients, and they tend to be regarded as higher quality ingredients due to their price.

So, if you have been on the hunt for a luxurious anti-aging potion, here is a list of the ten best high-end retinols for all skin types.

  • Alastin Skincare – Renewal Retinol .5
  • Medik8 – Crystal Retinal 3 Serum
  • SkinCeuticals – Retinol 0.5
  • Osmosis – MD Calm Gentle Retinal Serum
  • Biopelle – Retriderm Serum Plus 0.75% Retinol
  • Lancer Skincare – Advanced Retinol Treatment
  • Replenix – RetinolForte Treatment Serum 10X
  • Jan Marini – Age Intervention Duality MS
  • Jan Marini – Age Intervention Duality MS
  • Medik8 – R-Retinoate Intense

Best High End Retinols for All Skin Types - The Skincare Culture

NB: If you’re someone with oily/acne-prone skin, you need my new book “The Ingredients Handbook for Acne-Prone Skin“. Download it here.

Alastin Skincare – Renewal Retinol .5 – $60

Alastin Skincare – Renewal Retinol .5 – The Skincare Culture

Alastin Renewal Retinol 0.5 is beginner-friendly retinol that helps improve the skin’s elasticity, tone, and texture.

It contains encapsulated retinol, which means the active ingredient will be released slowly into the skin and won’t cause irritation.

Besides, the product also contains ceramides and niacinamide to strengthen and repair the skin barrier, as well as antioxidants to neutralize free-radical damage, and oat extract, which is a powerful soothing and calming ingredient that prevents irritation.

Best for all skin types, including oily and acne-prone skin.

Medik8 – Crystal Retinal 3 Serum – $60

Medik8 – Crystal Retinal 3 Serum – The Skincare Culture

Crystal Retinal 3 Serum by Medik8 is formulated with stabilized retinaldehyde (retinal), a next-generation form of vitamin A.

The ingredient is special in the way that it works 11 times faster than retinol.

On the skin, retinol must first be converted to retinaldehyde before it is converted to retinoic acid, the active form of vitamin A in the skin.

Retinaldehyde only needs one conversion in the skin to retinoic acid, whereas traditional retinol needs two.

This means faster and more effective results, smoothing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and visibly brightening the complexion.

The Medik8 Crystal Retinal 3 is also encapsulated in crystal complex cyclodextrin, meaning it’s slowly released into the skin throughout the night.

The brand also has Crystal Retinal 1, 6, and 10 (which is the strongest); however, having tried them all, Crystal Retinal 3 is a good place to start if you are dealing with early signs of aging and you have normal skin.

It has a beautiful, citrusy scent, a light orange color, and spreads on the skin like a dream.

Best for normal/dry/mature skin.

SkinCeuticals – Retinol 0.5 – $76

SkinCeuticals – Retinol 0.5 – The Skincare Culture

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 is an ideal product for more hearty and resilient skin types dealing with acne breakouts, oiliness, enlarged pores, and maturing skin.

The purpose of this product is to promote peeling and cellular turnover to help skin cells travel to the surface of the skin faster and shed rapidly to achieve a healthier, clear, and evened-out complexion.

So, if you still want to start out with this product, you should know that peeling will most definitely occur; therefore, you need to follow it up with rich, nourishing moisturizers to help prevent irritations.

Best for oily/acne-prone/aging skin.

Osmosis – MD Calm Gentle Retinal Serum – $78

Osmosis – MD Calm Gentle Retinal Serum – The Skincare Culture

Osmosis’s MD Calm Gentle Retinal Serum is specially designed for the most sensitive skin types who want to introduce retinol in their skincare routine and enjoy its anti-aging benefits.

The rich, creamy serum contains a blend of antioxidants and soothing botanicals to rejuvenate the skin, restore brightness and suppleness, and strengthen the skin barrier so that it can renew itself easily.

Best for dry/mature/extremely sensitive skin/retinol beginners.

Biopelle – Retriderm Serum Plus 0.75% Retinol – $90

Biopelle – Retriderm Serum Plus 0.75% Retinol – The Skincare Culture

Biopelle’s Retriderm Serum Plus 0.75% Retinol features a unique and clinically advanced form of retinol in combination with antioxidants and softening emollients to fill in lines, wrinkles and make the skin look young and plump.

The serum contains soluble collagen, which is a large molecule with tremendous water-binding capacity, making it an extremely good humectant and moisturizer.

It produces a water-rich film on the skin, giving the uppermost layer of the skin great hydration, making it nice and smooth, and reducing transepidermal water loss. 

Additionally, the Retriderm Serum also contains hydrolyzed elastin, which is another emollient that revitalizes, nourishes, and moisturizes the skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and dryness.

Don’t confuse soluble collagen and hydrolyzed elastin with the actual collagen and elastin proteins we naturally have in our skin.

These are synthetic emollients, and applying them to the skin won’t lead to a significant increase of natural collagen and elastin in the skin, but they will soften the skin’s surface and keep it moisturized.

Best for normal/dry/mature skin.

Lancer Skincare – Advanced Retinol Treatment – $95

Lancer Skincare – Advanced Retinol Treatment – The Skincare Culture

Lancer’s Advanced Retinol Treatment is a lightweight serum containing a combination of antioxidants and retinol to improve signs of aging, dryness, visible pores from excessive dryness, and redness.

Like Biopelle’s retinol mentioned above, the Advanced Retinol Treatment also contains hydrolyzed collagen, which is a synthetically made emollient that hydrates the skin and creates a barrier on its surface to prevent transepidermal water loss.

Besides, the treatment serum also contains prickly pear extract, which is a soothing antioxidant that can improve the look of redness and irritation.

Lastly, the serum also contains a few oils, and it has a rather greasy finish, especially when used on oily skin, so even though it’s marketed towards people with acne, I’d rather suggest it to someone with a dry, mature skin type, instead.

Best for normal/dry/mature skin.

Replenix – RetinolForte Treatment Serum 10X – $96

Replenix – RetinolForte Treatment Serum 10X – The Skincare Culture

RetinolForte Treatment Serum 10X by Replenix is a serum that balances your skin’s natural rhythm to give your complexion radiance and an overall boost in brightness, evenness, and suppleness.

This face serum contains a combination of antioxidants such as soothing green tea and caffeine to stimulate circulation and reduce signs of aging, free radical damage, and irritation.

Besides, the serum also contains a form of hyaluronic acid to attract water into the superficial layers of the skin and efficiently hydrate it.

Best for combination/oily skin.

Jan Marini – Age Intervention Duality MS – $95

Jan Marini – Age Intervention Duality – The Skincare Culture

Jan Marini’s Age Intervention Duality is a retinol/benzoyl peroxide cream that addresses mild to moderate acne while simultaneously minimizing the appearance of fine lines.

It has a dual-chamber dispensing bottle that combines 10% ultra-micronized benzoyl peroxide and highly concentrated all-trans-retinol.

But besides, the formula also contains soothing green tea extract, anti-aging peptides, hydrating and moisturizing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and shea butter, as well as antioxidants to eliminate skin damage induced by free radicals.

However, due to the highly concentrated active ingredients, you should avoid overusing the Age Intervention Duality as this can cause some irritation and peeling.

Best for oily and acne-prone skin.

SENTÉ – Intensive Bio Complete Cream – $125

SENTÉ – Intensive Bio Complete Cream – The Skincare Culture

SENTÉ Skincare Intensive Bio Complete Cream is a retinol product containing a .5% true, time-released retinol with two of Sente Skincare’s patented Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs): DSA (Dermatan Sulfate Analog) & CSA (Chondroitin Sulfate Analog).

Combining both retinol with the unique GAGs can truly do wonders for the complexion since retinol acts as a vehicle to push the glycosaminoglycans deeper into the skin.

Additional benefits due to the GAGs in the serum are the hydrating and soothing effect on the skin to help combat some of the retinol side effects, like irritation and flaking.

Best for dry and mature skin.

Medik8 – R-Retinoate Intense – $265

Medik8 – R-Retinoate Intense – The Skincare Culture

R-Retinoate Intense is another brilliant invention by Medik8 featuring a formula of retinyl retinoate intertwined with crystal-stabilized retinaldehyde to address skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, texture, and dullness.

The best part about it is although super-efficient, it’s also super gentle, and you can start using it daily immediately without fearing the usual side effects that occur when starting retinols, such as irritation, dryness, peeling, and sensitivity.

Besides, the formula also contains hyaluronic acid, a humectant to draw moisture into the skin and keep it soft and supple, as well as ceramides, which is the glue holding your skin cells together, creating a barrier to prevent transepidermal water loss and reinforcing the skin’s function.

Like Crystal Retinal 3 mentioned above, the R-Retinoate Intense has a very mild and very pleasant citrusy scent and a slightly thicker texture that sinks into the skin beautifully, leaving behind a supple radiance.

Best for normal/dry/mature skin.

OILY SKIN PRONE TO CONSTANT ACNE-BREAKOUTS?

simone sydel licensed esthetician

I've coached hundreds of clients just like you helping them tame their oily and acne-prone skin.


I've had my battle with acne. I know what it's like when your skin seems to be conspiring against you


The good news is, I can now show how to manage it!


My new book will help you understand your skin better so you can make informed decisions about what products would work best for your specific needs.

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