5,000 retinol products have launched in the past 3 years, but we’re most excited about this drugstore diamond

September 10, 2019 at 08:01PM by CWC

With years of dermatologist intel under our belts, we’ve always said that retinol is one of the few skin-care products that’s almost always worth splurging on. But with the launch of Olay’s Retinol24, which you can get at the drugstore as of today, we’re seriously reconsidering that sentiment.


Retinol is having a major moment: In the last three years, more than 5,000 new retinoids have been released onto the market, according to research done by Olay. But despite its popularity, the skin-transforming ingredient generally tends to get a bad rap for being irritating… which is something Olay is trying to do away with in its latest formulation. “Retinoids don’t have to irritate—it’s not a part of their mode of action, like a laser or chemical peel where injuring your skin is actually a part of the process,” says Frauke Neuser, MD, Olay’s principal scientist that spoke with a group of editors at the launch event. “It’s literally a side effect, and you want to get rid of it.”

The brand’s three newest retinol products—which include a nighttime serum, moisturizer, and eye cream—have officially raised the bar on what we can expect from affordable, over-the-counter retinoids. They combine retinol and retinyl propionate, which are small vitamin A molecules that penetrate the skin deeply in order to thicken the epidermis and help smooth the texture of the surface, with soothing ingredients like glycerin, peptides, and niacinamide that help nourish the skin on top of that. And so, you’re getting all of the benefits that retinol has to offer without the usual side effects. According to extensive research from the brand, 96 percent of consumers who tried the product line didn’t experience any sort of irritation. As in: zero redness or flakiness.

Photo: Olay

The coolest thing about the products, though, is that they boast 24-hour potency (hence the name “Retinol24”), which means that their blend of actives continues to penetrate the skin over the course of an entire day. So instead of hitting your skin with a big blast of actives all at once, it’s getting them bit by bit throughout the day… another factor that helps with the whole “no irritation” thing.

The moisturizer offers a silky, smooth texture which flawlessly complements the serum’s non-greasy formulation, and the eye cream is marshmallow-thick to help smooth fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin elasticity. Their textures are dreamy and soft, and all absorb nicely so that they get straight to work on giving you that radiance that you can expect from using retinoid skin care. For $29 a piece, we’re officially eating our words on affordable retinol.

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Just because you’re adding a retinol to your routine doesn’t mean you need to toss your chemical exfoliant in the garbage—here’s how to retinol and glycolic acid together safely.  And here’s how to tell if you’re using *too* many skin-care ingredients in one routine. 

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Author Zoe Weiner | Well and Good
Selected by CWC