The Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

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You might be using retinol for wrinkles or for acne. You might be using it in cream form or serum form. You might be using a prescription retinoid or an over-the-counter one. But one aspect of retinol applies to all; moisturizing. Moisturizing is an important step in any skincare routine where retinol is involved. Because retinol is notorious for drying the skin. But once you find the right formula, you can actually reduce the “side effects” of retinol significantly. The best moisturizers to use with retinol help your skin through this annoying and irritating phase. And it’s the same for any kind of topical vitamin A including prescription tretinoin like Retin-A or retinol creams and serums you buy from Sephora.

Retinol works by speeding up the cell turnover rate. It means that the top layer of your skin renews faster than it normally would. As the new, healthy cells travel upwards toward the upper layer of your skin, the old ones shed off.

This cycle is usually temporary and goes away once your skin builds enough tolerance. However, this is when the skin tends to get really dry and flaky. In some cases, you might even experience breakouts from purging. That’s where moisturizers come in.

But to avoid reducing the effects of your retinol cream or irritating your skin when it’s most vulnerable, there are some things to keep in mind when looking for a moisturizer.

How To Choose The Best Moisturizer To Use With Retinol

You need a very minimal, non-irritating, barrier-restoring moisturizer to use with your retinol cream/serum. The good thing is that there are some good old moisturizers you can find at the drugstore, which happen to be very affordable. There are also great options and clean formulas you can find in Sephora.

First of all, your moisturizer is the supporting ingredient, your retinol is the star. So avoid moisturizers that do other things in addition to moisturizing. You don’t need a brightening moisturizer or an exfoliating moisturizer.

Because that means your cream contains active ingredients like hydroxy acids or vitamin C, which you should not mix with retinol. You don’t need any of these.

You already have retinol to address your skin concerns. It’s an amazing multi-tasker -let it do its thing. So avoid any moisturizer that contains active and potentially harsh ingredients.

What To Look For in a Moisturizer To Use With Retinol

The most important thing to look for in a moisturizer to use with retinol is a good balance of humectants and emollients. Look for hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, panthenol, glycerin, or lactic acid. Additionally, look for some emollients like fatty acids, ceramides, squalane, or shea butter.

The addition of emollients creates a film on the surface of the skin and prevents moisture loss. Concerning the texture, it’s all up to you. You can go for gel formulas or cream formulas depending on personal preference. Additionally, as the skin is usually sensitive when you’re using retinoids, it’s a good idea to avoid fragrances.

Even though some skin types can tolerate and even enjoy it, some simply can’t. Lastly, as sun protection is incredibly important when using a retinol product, you can use moisturizers that contain SPF. If you usually forget to wear SPF, using a multi-tasking moisturizer is a practical way to make sure your skin is moisturized and protected.

The Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

To reduce retinol dryness and flakiness, below are the best moisturizers to use with retinol creams.

1. La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

La Roche Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer - Best  Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

This is one of the gentlest moisturizers on the planet. And it’s a lifesaver for people who are dealing with retinol dryness. The cream is suitable for all skin types. As the formula is oil-free, even oily and acne-prone skin types can safely use it without worrying about clogged pores.

It’s formulated with ceramides and niacinamide, both of which help restore the skin barrier and prevent moisture loss. It also has thermal water, which contains anti-inflammatory minerals to soothe red and sensitive skin.

Key Ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, thermal spring water
Size: 2.5 oz/100 ml
Good To Know: Oil-free, fragrance-free

2. CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream - Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

Thicker creams are great for locking in moisture but they’re usually too uncomfortable for daytime use for most skin types. If you prefer something heavier to really replenish the skin and make up for daytime dryness, this night cream is excellent. It’s already a hit for people with sensitive skin and rosacea.

And it’s also great when your skin is feeling extra dry and sensitive from retinol. The budget-friendly moisturizer is made with ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and shea butter. It’s also fragrance-free and great for restoring the damaged skin barrier.

Key Ingredients: Ceramides, niacinamide, shea butter
Size: 1.7 oz/48 gr
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic

3. Cetaphil Redness Relieving Moisturizer SPF 20

Cetaphil Redness Relieving Moisturizer SPF 20

If you prefer a daily moisturizer with SPF, this drugstore cream comes to the rescue. It contains mineral sunscreen and unlike chemical sunscreen, it’s more sensitive-skin-friendly. The sheer tint of the moisturizer eliminates the white cast, which is usually associated with mineral sunscreens.

The moisturizer is made with anti-inflammatory allantoin as well as caffeine. It’s soothing and is also great for reducing the look of redness. So if you have sensitized skin or if your skin is purging from retinol, this one is a great option to cover up redness as well.

Key Ingredients: Mineral SPF, allantoin
Size: 1.7 oz750 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic

RELATED: The Best Sunscreens to Use with Retinol

4. Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer

Aveeno Calm + Restore Oat Gel Moisturizer - Best Affordable Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

And speaking of anti-inflammatory, this whole line from Aveeno is all about calming irritated skin. This moisturizer is in gel form and though it’s not oil-free, it’s easy on oily skin too. It’s formulated around colloidal oatmeal because it’s soothing for the skin. So it makes sense to use the moisturizer with your retinol if your skin tends to get red and reactive.

Additionally, it packs vitamin B5 to hydrate and soothe. But it also has other soothers like feverfew extract as well as Centella Asiatica, which is something people with sensitive skin love for its restorative benefits. The moisturizer is fragrance-free, and affordable too!

Key Ingredients: Oat extract, vitamin B5
Size: 1.7 oz/48 gr
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic

5. Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream

If you prefer gel formulations, which usually tend to be more water-based due to humectants, this drugstore moisturizer never disappoints. It’s very minimal, very gentle, and free of common irritants. The gel moisturizer is excellent to use with any retinol cream.

It won’t get in the way of your treatment, irritate your skin, or feel heavy on it. It’s a plumping moisturizer made with hyaluronic acid and glycerin. It’s great for dry skin. But the added silicone makes it an amazing option for oily skin types as well. It’s fragrance-free, oil-free, and non-comedogenic.

Key Ingredients: Hyaluronic acid, glycerin
Size: 1.7 oz/48 gr
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, oil-free

6. Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides

Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Moisturizer with Ceramides - Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol

When you’re using prescription retinol, you kind of need to take a break from your fancy skincare. Because most of them don’t go well with your retinol cream. At the same time, we know how therapeutic it can be to indulge in fancy skincare. Well, you’ll be using a lot of your moisturizer and you’ll be using it very often. So it’s not the best for your budget to get something expensive.

Just in case you want to though, this one is the best one to get from Sephora. It’s made with a blend of oils as well as hyaluronic acid and ceramides. It has a very moisturizing, emollient base to prevent water from evaporating from the skin. It softens the skin, reduces flakiness, and smooths out rough skin. The moisturizer is vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free.

Key Ingredients: Ceramides, green tea extract, marula oil
Size: 1.69 oz/50 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, vegan, cruelty-free

7. Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizing Cream

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Moisturizing Cream

If Lala Retro is out of your budget, this is another option you can get from Sephora but in a more affordable price range. I love this one for sandwiching retinol. It’s a squalane moisturizer and it keeps the skin hydrated and moisturized all day without an uncomfortable feeling on the skin.

It’s a tiny bit thicker than a gel moisturizer but still light on the skin. Besides squalane, it packs restorative oils like avocado oil to prevent moisture loss. It’s fragrance-free, gentle, and weightless on the skin. And it’s one of my favorite moisturizers to use with my retinol creams and serums.

Key Ingredients: Squalane, avocado oil, rice bran oil
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free

How to Use a Moisturizer With Retinol

The best way to use a moisturizer with retinol is to apply your moisturizer before you apply your retinol product. This method is also called buffering. Your moisturizer reduces the side effects of retinol by creating a barrier between your skin and retinol.

Make sure you wash your face and remove your makeup. Once your face is damp, apply your moisturizer to seal moisture in. Once it dries down, apply your retinol cream. This method is so helpful that you might not even have to deal with retinol dryness at all!

You can always apply your retinol on clean skin and apply your moisturizer on top of it. You’ll still be replenishing your skin. However, it won’t help a lot with reducing that side effect. And as your skin becomes more sensitive, you’re going to have to take a lot of breaks from using the product.

And it’s going to be a setback and it can be discouraging, which makes it difficult to commit to retinol. Instead of rolling the dice, stick with the buffering method.

The only exception to this rule would be if you’re using a retinol serum. In that case, consider mixing your retinol serum with your moisturizer or simply apply the serum before you apply your moisturizer.

Last but not least, there are super gentle, hydrating serums you can use with retinol. These make a great addition to your routine if you want to enhance the effects of your moisturizer too.

This completes our list of gentle moisturizers to use with retinol. If you’re new to the ingredient, make sure you know how to properly use retinol to avoid damaging your skin.

Read Next: The Best Cleansers To Use With Retinol

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