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Beauty/Skin/Serums & Treatments/Blemish & Acne Treatments
Top 10 Retinol Creams for Acne

The Best Retinol Products to Use for Acne-Prone Skin

The Best Retinol Products to Use for Acne-Prone Skin

If you have not yet been introduced to the magic that is retinol, we suggest you jump on board stat. Whether your suffering from wrinkles and fine lines, uneven skin-tone, dullness, dark circles, droopiness, enlarged pores—you name it—retinol is the answer. Always. Bonus: It’s a total miracle worker when it comes to acne, too. This is because retinol does a killer job of unclogging your pores, which not only allows other acne products to do their job, but also prevents future breakouts and reduces the formation of scars. If all your acne treatments seem to be failing you and you’re looking for a different approach to achieving clear skin, retinol may just be your answer. Besides reducing those pesky breakouts, you’ll end up with a complexion that’s glowing, even, and youthful too. But let’s face it—there are a number of retinol products lining the shelves, and finding the one that works for you can be quite an overwhelming task. Never fear, because we’ve done the work for you and rounded up the 10 best retinol creams for acne on the market. Scroll through to find your answer to a blemish-free and beautiful complexion. Opening image: @SkinCeuticals 

Love our 10 Best Retinol Creams for Acne? Check out our 10 Best Acne Patches for more top-ranked finds!

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August 27, 2018

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Top 10 Lists serve as unbiased shopping guides to the most trusted product recommendations on the internet. Products are scored and ranked using an algorithm backed by data consumers find most valuable when making a purchase. We are reader-supported and may earn a commission when you shop through our links.

The Rankings


ARCONA PM Acne Lotion

Our Score

USER SAID: “I purchased this and the AM for my college-aged daughter and after a week, her skin is nearly clear. She's thrilled. No dryness, just a clearer complexion.”

COMPLETE THE LOOK: Combine this product with Arcona’s AM Acne Lotion to combat those pesky breakouts during the day, too.


Dr. Brandt Skincare 2% Retinol Complex Serum

Our Score

BEST FOR: Sensitive skin

LOVED FOR: While many retinol creams may cause irritation or dryness, this one is praised for its moisturizing effects.


Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Our Score

LOVED FOR: This retinol cream also contains vitamin c, a collagen booster known for its extraordinary brightening and wrinkle-reducing effects.

USERS SAID: “I apply at night, I see the difference the next morning. My skin is so smooth and silky, unbelievable. Definitely a must have!”


iS CLINICAL Pro-Heal Serum Advance+

Our Score

BEST FOR: Those struggling with rosacea and worried about the reddening effects of retinol—this serum is super hydrating, calming, and totally safe to use.

AS SEEN ON: Shani Darden, facialist of Jessica Alba, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, and Chrissy Teigen.


Osmosis Pur Medical Skincare Clarify Vitamin A Blemish Serum

Our Score

BEST FOR: Stubborn cystic acne

USERS SAID: “I started using Osmosis a few years back and my skin transformed immediately. I went an ENTIRE year with NO breakouts!!!”


Glo Skin Beauty Renew Serum

Our Score

BEST FOR: A glowing, even skin tone

HELPFUL TIP: For best results, allow 30 minutes for the serum to soak in before applying your moisturizer.


Differin Adapalene Gel 0.1% Prescription Strength Retinoid Acne Treatment

Our Score

LOVED FOR: This powerhouse product comes at an unexpectedly low price.

FUN FACT: Differin Gel contains the first FDA-approved, prescription-strength, retinoid acne treatment available without a prescription.


SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Our Score

BEST FOR: Aging skin

HELPFUL TIP: This high-concentration pure retinol cream is best for experienced retinol users. If you’re a newbie, start with SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5.


PCA Skin A&C Synergy Serum

Our Score

USERS SAID: “I was skeptical but this serum actually works! I've been covering my face with makeup for yearssss. I'm 36 now and FINALLY I can leave my house without any makeup on.”

FUN FACT: This serum contains resveratrol (that stuff found in red wine) to firm, tone and brighten your skin.


Murad Skin Perfecting Lotion Blemish Prone/Oily Skin

Our Score

LOVED FOR: Its skin-smoothing effects

USERS SAID: “I bought this skincare line for my teenage daughter who has acne breakouts. We were AMAZED by how quickly it cleared her skin. Literally after a day of use her skin had improved!!!!”

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