This post has been updated. See Five Best with Retinol 2014.

Retinol, it must be said, is very good at reducing fine lines and giving the complexion a boost. So good, in fact, that it is easy to get addicted. Beware, retinol is a heavy-duty exfoliator and overuse may irritate the skin and even thin it.

What Is Retinol? Why Do Anti-Wrinkle Retinol Creams Work?

Retinoids are highly active and produce relatively quick skin changes but the speed and intensity of the changes is dependent on the form and dose, as well as an individual’s tolerance. Our Five Best over-the-counter anti-wrinkle retinol buys have been tested by me and members of the Truth In Aging community and have been selected because, along with retinol, they are packed with other great anti-aging ingredients.

  • Omosis Correct

    Omosis Correct ($56). An excellent and effective product that fades wrinkles and smooths the skin whilst being relatively gentle. The secret is that niacinamide backs up the action of trans retinal. Plus there are anti-aging heavy hitters such as copper peptides and epidermal growth factor that repair wrinkles, as well as R-Lipoic acid. A great anti-wrinkle retinol product at any price and very good value at less than 50 bucks.
  • PSF Retinol Nite Repair

    PSF Retinol Nite Repair ($46). A good product at a good price. It packs its punch with a 1% concentration of pharmaceutical grade retinol. Alpha lipoic acid is an interesting additional ingredient that is supposed to prevent vitamin C and E deficiency. Counteracting the irritant effects of retinol are aloe, neem oil and willow bark, which has salicin (similar to aspirin) in it. Unfortunately, I am less keen on the butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT), a preservative that has been banned as a food additive in Japan and Europe.
  • Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol

    Skinfinite Platinum PM Cream 1% Retinol ($79 in the shop). Truth In Aging reviewer, Mark, said: I didn’t experience any redness, irritation or flaking (as I did initially with retin-A, even with cautious use) and I do attribute that to gradual use, and most likely the improvement in the delivery system of the product.  It left my skin smooth and even toned. Interestingly, instead of drying my skin out, it actually hydrated it thanks to several moisturizing ingredients such as shea butter, almond oil, beta-glucan(D), and ceramide-2”. Skinfinite says its retinol is entrapped in molecular microsponges that enhances skin penetration in a time-release delivery system. Another reviewer, found this anti-wrinkle retinol cream too strong to use more than once a week.
  • Arcona Vitamin A Complex Repair

    Arcona Vitamin A Complex Repair ($68). Arcona put two retinoids in their Complex Repair (PM). Retinol, the alcohol form of vitamin A, is the third ingredient, and retinyl palmitate is further down at 10th position. For anyone who likes retinoids, this is a great one to try because the overall formulation is so clean, lightweight and you won’t have to wait too long to see some changes. Truth In Aging reviewer, Jaysie, said she “was quickly aware of a tightening effect, but also a smoothing effect. For anyone who likes retinoids, this is a great one to try because the overall formulation is so clean, lightweight and you won’t have to wait too long to see some changes."
  • Prana Reverse A

    Prana Reverse A ($48 in the shop). An excellent retinol that does a great job of bringing down sun damaged skin. If you have stubborn areas of aging skin or hyperpigmentation and want a relatively effective over the counter anti-wrinkle retinol cream, then Prana Reverse A is worth trying out. Reverse A gets my vote for its natural ingredients and slew of anti-agers. Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant and produces energy in cells and I especially like l-Carnosine, which flushes toxins from the body and may extend the Hayflick Limit (the number of times cells reproduce themselves). NaPCA crops up in a few of Prana’s products and sounds a little like hyaluronic acid (which is also here) in that it Na-PCA it pulls water out of the air to moisturize the skin.  With botanical sage, horsetail and chamomile, Reverse A also has calming effects and may help with broken capillaries. The vitamin A is rounded out with Vitamin B5, E and C.