7 Serums You Can Actually Pair With Your Retinol

Best Serums To Use With Retinol

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If you’ve just started using retinol, you need to take a long hard look at the other products you’re currently using in your routine. That includes your face serums! There are serums you can use with retinol that can help you maximize your results. On the flip side, some serums can compromise your results!

Because adding retinol into your skincare routine is like welcoming a kid into your family. It requires a set of changes and you need to rearrange everything around that fact. When you’re using retinol, you need to retinol-proof your routine, so to speak.

All vitamin A derivatives, over-the-counter retinol creams, serums, or prescription retinoids like Retin-A, do have profound effects on your skin. They help with acne, wrinkles, skin discolorations, and more!

However, these changes in the skin also affect the way you choose and use products. For example, when you start to use retinol, you switch from an exfoliating cleanser to a basic one, or go for a thicker moisturizer, or swap your chemical sunscreen with a mineral one.

Likewise, you may need to make some changes in the serums department too. Serums are multi-tasking skincare products that can be utilized in several ways. A basic serum can complement your skincare routine.

And a high-potency treatment serum can help you deal with your skin concerns. So where do face serums fall when you’re using retinol? Do you need them?

Do You Need Serums When You’re Using Retinol?

First and foremost, retinol is one of the most potent skincare ingredients that help with a wide array of skin concerns. So no, you don’t actually need a separate serum.

However, as we’ve established, some serums can help you maximize the result you get from retinol. And to take it one step further, some serums can actually make retinol more tolerable for your skin.

Certain types of serums can eliminate the most annoying side effects of retinol, which are irritation and dryness. So even though you don’t need serums, you can benefit a lot from them.

What Kind of Serums To Use With Retinol

You can use all kinds of face serums, including the ones with active ingredients, even if you’re using retinol. As long as they’re hypoallergenic and fragrance-free, you can continue using them.

They simply need to be gentle so that they don’t make your skin more sensitive. Otherwise, they will interfere with your retinol use.

But if you actually want to layer serums with your retinol cream or serum, you need to be very selective! Only pair hydrating, soothing, calming, and repairing serums with retinol.

These include humectants like hyaluronic acid, barrier-restoring ingredients like panthenol, and anti-inflammatory ingredients like green tea.

Avoid using serums with active ingredients like alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and vitamin C together with retinol. It’s because they can be too much for your skin and you may end up with irritated, red skin.

Though exfoliating when using retinol is guaranteed to improve your skin texture and eliminate flaky skin, it has its own time and place.

Additionally, you must have heard that certain ingredients require certain pH levels to work and that some ingredients cancel each other out.

I don’t know about you but I have more important things to do than memorize which ingredients work at what pH level. It’s always best to stay safe and avoid layering.

The Best Serums To Use With Retinol

Gentle, and fragrance-free, find below the best face serums you can use together with retinol.

1. Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum - Best Hydrating Serums To Use With Retinol

This is the perfect serum to sandwich your retinol. Because it’s in gel form. It’s a little bit thicker than a liquid serum but way lighter than lotion. So you can use it under retinol to buffer it or pair it with retinol to manage dryness. It’s made with an impressive list of humectants, making this the perfect hydrating serum to pair with retinol products.

It contains vitamin B5, vitamin B3, hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, glycerin, and ceramides. It’s fragrance-free, vegan, super lightweight, and gentle enough for sensitive skin. Use it day and night and pair it with your retinol creams and serums.

What It Has: Hyaluronic acid, panthenol, glycerin, ceramide
What It Does: Prevents retinol dryness and flakiness
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1.69 oz/50 ml
Other Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free, silicone-free

2. The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 - Best Drugstore Serums To Use With Retinol

If you’re on the lookout for something more affordable and a hardcore fan of hyaluronic acid, this cult-favorite serum is perfect. It’s made with different molecular weight hyaluronic acid as well as vitamin B5, aka panthenol, for hydrating and soothing the skin.

It’s free of fragrance and oil and can be safely used by all skin types whatever retinol product you are using. Additionally, you can mix this with your retinol serum to dilute it. This can reduce potential irritation from retinol. But the added bonus will be making your retinol product last longer!

What It Has: Hyaluronic acid, panthenol, glycerin
What It Does: Prevents dryness from retinol, plumps skin, strengthens skin barrier
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Other Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, silicone-free, fragrance-free

3. Aveeno Calm + Restore Triple Oat Serum

Aveeno Calm + Restore Triple Oat Serum

Most anti-inflammatory ingredients can be paired comfortably with retinol. And they are exceptionally helpful in reducing redness, irritation, and tightness. So if you’re dealing with these concerns, add this serum into your evening routine and use it as a night serum to pair with retinol.

You can also alternate and use this one on the days you’re not using retinol. Either way, the soothing serum is formulated with oatmeal, and feverfew, both of which are amazing anti-inflammatory goodies. The fragrance-free formula absorbs fast, provides hydration, and is super helpful in managing retinol uglies.

What It Has: Oat extract, feverfew extract
What It Does: Treats and prevents irritation from retinol, reduces redness
Skin Type: All skin types, especially dry, sensitive
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Other Features: Fragrance-free, paraben-free, hypoallergenic

4. A’pieu Madecassoside Ampoule 2X

A'pieu Madecassoside Ampoule 2X - Best Korean Serums To Use With Retinol

Similarly, Centella Asiatica has major anti-inflammatory benefits. It also possesses antioxidant properties. And this one is for you if you’re just starting out with retinol and the side effects are too much to deal with.

This Korean calming serum is the perfect addition to your routine. It’s minimal, gentle, and a lifesaver when your skin doesn’t get along with your choice of retinol.

What It Has: Centella Asiatica, glycerin
What It Does: Calms irritation, soothes
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Other Features: Fragrance-free, silicone-free

5. First Aid Beauty Hydrating Serum With Hyaluronic Acid

First Aid Beauty Hydrating Serum With Hyaluronic Acid - Best Serum To Use With Retinol

Anyone with sensitive skin knows that FAB offers the best serums for sensitive and sensitized skin. As someone with rosacea, I consider their products practically must-haves. And not surprisingly, they have one of the best serums to pair with retinol to increase hydration and reduce irritation.

The fragrance-free formula is made with a blend of antioxidant-rich botanicals that are incredibly soothing. Oatmeal, feverfew, green tea, and allantoin make retinol tolerable for the skin. Plus, it hydrates and plumps the skin with collagen, panthenol, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. Use it under or over retinol!

What It Has: Oatmeal, vitamin B5, feverfew extract, green tea extract, allantoin
What It Does: Hydrates, soothes, prevents irritation
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1.7 oz/50 ml
Other Features: Cruelty-free, fragrance-free, silicone-free

6. Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum - Best Serums To Use With Retinol

Niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, is one of those safe ingredients that can be paired with retinol. And this 10% niacinamide serum can be layered under retinol to prevent as well as manage retinol irritation.

It’s a great multi-tasking serum that’ll banish inflammation and strengthen the skin barrier. So it’s the perfect addition to any anti-redness routine.

What It Has: Niacinamide, vitamin E
What It Does: Improves skin barrier function
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Other Features: Fragrance-free, cruelty-free

7. Youth To The People 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum

Youth To The People 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum - Best Brightening Serums To Use With Retinol

While you don’t necessarily need treatment serums when you’re using retinol, this one is an overall great antioxidant serum if you’re struggling with sun-damaged skin and uneven skin tone. Pure vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid, is majorly efficient in reducing hyperpigmentation, and skin discolorations, and increasing brightness and collagen production.

But it can be irritating especially when your skin is vulnerable because of retinol. That’s what vitamin C derivatives are for! They’re more stable and usually very tolerable for the skin. And if you ‘have to’ pair vitamin C with retinol, derivatives are the way to go. This serum is made with three forms of vitamin C for maximum skin benefits.

Plus, it packs caffeine to increase cellular energy, brighten, and depuff the skin. It’s also suitable to use around the eyes. So if you’re dealing with dark spots and looking for a vitamin C serum to pair with retinol, this gentle serum can work wonders and won’t irritate your skin into giving up retinol. Again, remember to use this in the morning and your retinol in the evening if you want to keep things safe.

What It Has: 3 vitamin C derivatives, caffeine
What It Does: Brightens, reduces inflammation, maximizes the brightening effects of your routine
Skin Type: All skin types
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Other Features: Vegan, cruelty-free, fragrance-free

Whether you want something hydrating or calming, these are some of the best serums to use with retinol creams and serums. Again, keep it gentle and try to avoid layering active ingredients.

Read Next: The Best Toners To Use with Retinol

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