As you embark on your journey to the altar, you might be considering some upgrades to your beauty routine. While you’ll already be glowing on the big day, creating a pre-wedding skincare regimen can help you feel more confident and beautiful as you walk down the aisle. One product worth considering? Retinol cream.
Whether you want to reduce the appearance of fine lines or are just looking for an extra boost of brightness, using a retinol cream in the weeks and months leading up to your wedding day might help you achieve your skincare goals.
To help you find a retinol cream that works for you, we researched the best options for various skin types and spoke with an industry expert about the benefits of retinol and how to incorporate it into your bridal beauty routine.
The Benefits of Retinol Cream
If you’re looking for a beauty product that works powerfully, combats a variety of skin concerns, and is easy to apply regularly, retinol cream may be the answer. “Retinol is quite a powerhouse ingredient known for its anti-aging properties,” explains licensed esthetician Sasha Banner. She says that the ingredient has been proven to increase collagen production and cell turnover, while reversing the signs of sun damage, fine lines, and wrinkles. "When used appropriately it can also reduce the appearance of blemishes and help prevent future breakouts,” she adds.
Using Retinol Before the Wedding
If you’ve never used a retinol cream before, Banner recommends opting for a lower potency of 0.01% to 0.03% and using it only once per week to build up a tolerance to its effects. “When starting a retinol, slow and steady is the name of the game,” she says. She recommends gradually increasing the potency and frequency in which you use the product (about two to three times per week) as your skin starts to respond well.
According to Banner, it is best to use retinol at night as it can cause the skin to become more sensitized to environmental factors. She emphasizes the importance of using sunscreen during the day, as retinol can cause the skin to become more photosensitive. However, she says that it’s never too early to start using a retinol. “Depending on the skin's conditions, you can expect to see the benefits within 12 weeks of consistent use,” she adds.
Best for First-Timers: Dr Loretta Concentrated Firming Serum
Buy it: $80, Drloretta.com
For brides-to-be who are new to the retinol game, Banner recommends trying the Dr Loretta Concentrated Firming Serum two to three times per week. The key benefit of this innovative formula is that it moisturizes the skin, while also minimizing the appearance of pores and wrinkles. This serum reduces the irritation that can sometimes come with using retinol by delivering a boost of hydrating lipids to the skin—it’s a win-win!
Best for Sensitive Skin: Summer Fridays Midnight Ritual Retinol Renewal Serum
Buy it: $69, Sephora.com
Cult-favorite beauty brand Drunk Elephant recently released its own retinol product that’s perfect for those with skin on the more sensitive side. Gentle yet effective, this serum works to smooth the appearance of fine lines and improve uneven texture. Bonus: The formula is vegan and cruelty-free, featuring ingredients like vegan retinyl linoleate, hyaluronic acid, tiger grass extract, and an oatmeal blend.
Best Retinol Alternative: Goldfaden MD’s Wakeup Call Overnight Facial Treatment
Buy it: $88, Bloomingdales.com
For those with extra sensitive skin, using a retinol alternative might be the best option for you. The good news? They can work just as well! According to Banner, “brides with more sensitive skin can still enjoy the benefits of a retinol or a retinol alternative.” She recommonends looking for products with ingredients like bakuchiol or retinyl palmitate as a gentler alternative to retinol with the same great benefits.
Her go-to pick is the Goldfaden MD’s Wakeup Call Overnight Facial Treatment. This luxurious and creamy facial moisturizer is made to rejuvenate and hydrate the skin and improve skin texture overnight, leaving you with a supple, replenished complexion.
Best for Fine Lines: RoC Retinol Correxion Max Daily Hydration Cream
Buy it: $30, Ulta.com
Clinically proven and dermatologist tested, this fast-acting formula offers benefits that work for a range of skin types. In addition to retinol, the key ingredient in this pick is hyaluronic acid, which deeply hydrates the skin for 24 hours. Applying this to the face and neck once a day (the brand recommends every other day to start) delivers results in as little as a week—use it for at least eight weeks for the best results before the big day.
Best Budget: L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Moisturizer
Buy it: $22, Amazon.com
Beauty products can be expensive, but there’s no need to dip into your wedding budget! Instead, opt for a cost-effective choice like L’Oreal’s Revitalift Moisturizer. Made with pro-retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C, this cream works wonders for dry skin. It delivers a dose of hydration while also working to smooth lines and firm skin texture.
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Chloe Caldwell is a Commerce Writer for Brides. She has six years of journalism experience writing about beauty, fashion, accessories, travel, and weddings.