Whether you're wearing a strapless, sleeveless, or back-baring wedding dress, you'll want smooth, glowing skin—and not just on your face—for the big day. While you've probably used retinol in facial serums, moisturizers, and oils, it's also a powerhouse ingredient in a variety of firming body lotions. Retinol body lotions can help smooth fine lines, clear body acne, and correct hyperpigmentation on arms, legs, and more.
When searching for a retinol lotion that's right for you, the first thing to consider is a product's ingredients–especially if you have sensitive skin. Generally, lotions made with clean ingredients are your best bet. Look for formulas that are free of fragrances, dyes, or drying alcohols. Next, you'll want to tackle your individual skin care concerns. For instance, if you have dry skin, look for hydrating ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. No matter which formula you go with, be sure to start using it well before the wedding for the best results.
Test your retinol lotion on a small patch of skin before applying it all over your body so you can ensure it's right for your skin type and avoid any irritation–those with sensitive skin may have to build up a tolerance to the multi-tasking ingredient.
To help you find the best retinol lotion for your bridal beauty routine, we've researched the top formulas to help you get smooth, glowing skin by the big day. If you're looking for a beauty product that packs a lot of punch, we love the Rosen Apothecary Anti-Aging Retinol Body Lotion and the Replenix Retinol Smooth + Tighten Body Lotion. For powerful ingredients that work while you sleep, our favorite pick is the Doris Day MD Skincare Retinol Body Serum.
Read on for the best retinol lotions for smoother skin by your wedding day.
Rosen Apothecary Anti-Aging Retinol Body Lotion
Caffeine isn't just a great early morning or midday pick-me-up. In this lightweight lotion, it's used to aid retinol effectiveness and helps to firm skin. Another key ingredient is ultra-moisturizing argan oil, which further hydrates the skin to deliver a brighter complexion and smooth skin tone.
Price at time of publish: $17
Paula's Choice Retinol Skin-Smoothing Body Treatment
If fragrances aren't your thing, this treatment is the perfect option for you. It treats skin with retinol and antioxidants without the added scents, and the lightweight yet rich texture hydrates the skin without leaving a greasy residue. Overall, it's an unfussy formula that's a great addition to any skincare routine.
Price at time of publish: $29
Chantecaille Retinol Body Treatment
If there's one reason to splurge on high-end beauty products, it's your wedding day. Although it's a bit pricey, rest assured that a little goes a long way with this luxe treatment. The blend of shea butter, rosewater, macadamia oil, and the star ingredient (retinol, of course!) results in silky-smooth skin.
Price at time of publish: $102
Advanced Clinicals Retinol Cream
Hyaluronic acid and retinol are a dream duo, which is why we love this affordable pick that includes both. Perfect for your pre-wedding skincare routine, this cream offers both firming and nourishing benefits for all-over skin improvement. Retinol targets fine lines, while the formula's other active ingredients including chamomile and aloe vera hydrate and nourish the skin.
Price at time of publish: $35
Medix 5.5 Retinol Cream + Ferulic Acid Anti-Sagging Treatment
Retinol may be the top-billed ingredient in this treatment, but the ferulic acid in this formula is just as important. The powerful antioxidant protects the skin from UV rays and aids the efficiency of vitamins C and E. The treatment targets fine lines and sun damage to improve overall skin texture and tone, which is perfect for achieving an even wedding day glow.
Price at time of publish: $20
Best Body Butter
Josie Maran Whipped Argan Pro-Retinol Body Butter
Few things feel as luxurious as slathering on creamy, rich body butter, and this pick infused with pro-retinol (a gentler retinol derivative) is no exception. This gentle and effective whipped formula delivers smoother, firmer, and more hydrated skin with the help of active ingredients like pink algae extract and pure argan oil. Use this in your daily self-care routine leading up to the big day.
Price at time of publish: $46
Best Gentle Formula
Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Body Lotion
Brides with sensitive skin will love this luscious pick that firms, smooths, and brightens all over. In addition to an encapsulated retinol blend, this vegan and cruelty-free formula uses nourishing cocoa butter, squalane, and vitamin E to replenish skin. As a bonus, its tube packaging is made with 75% recycled materials.
Price at time of publish: $18
Best Body Serum
Doris Day MD Skincare Retinol Body Serum
Another splurge-worthy item for your wedding day prep, this serum formula from Doris Day offers a luxurious alternative to lotion. Infused with powerful active ingredients including retinol, vitamin C, and salicylic acid, this serum delivers smooth, hydrated, and rejuvenated skin. Apply this at night, and be sure to apply sunscreen to treated areas during the day.
Price at time of publish: $185
iS Clinical Body Complex
Ideal for sensitive skin, this calming and hydrating formula uses vitamins, botanical extracts, and antioxidants to heal and protect your skin. Plus, it promotes your skin's natural exfoliation and cellular regeneration processes, resulting in silky smooth and toned skin. This option is best applied after a bath or shower to amplify its soothing effects.
Price at time of publish: $75
Best Retinol Alternative
Eminence Organics Coconut Firming Body Lotion
Boost collagen production and tighten the skin with this all-natural pick from Eminence Organics. Chicory root and tara tree act as a natural retinol alternative that firms and smooths, while coconut milk and coconut water moisturize, tone, and soften the skin.
Price at time of publish: $36
Best Tightening Formula
Replenix Retinol Smooth + Tighten Body Lotion
We chose this powerful pick for its highly-effective ingredients that deliver results. Made with medical-grade all-trans-retinol, edelweiss flower, green tea polyphenol, and hyaluronic acid, this daily body lotion visibly lifts and tightens skin and improves skin texture. Plus, it supports healthy collagen production for a brighter, firmer complexion.
Price at time of publish: $93
What To Look For in a Retinol Body Lotion
When searching for a retinol lotion that's right for your skin, it's important to look for trusted, clean ingredients. Bonus points if it's dermatologist-tested and recommended! If you have sensitive skin, look for body lotions that are free from fragrance, dyes, drying alcohols, and other ingredients that could irritate your skin. Test the product out on a patch of skin before applying it to your entire body to ensure the formula is a good fit for your skin type. If potent ingredients don't tend to bother you, you might opt for options made with powerful ingredients, such as the Replenix Retinol Smooth + Tighten Body Lotion.
Target Your Skin Concerns
The best part about retinol body lotions is how versatile they are—so you should be able to find a lotion that will address your specific skin concerns. For example, if you're looking for moisture, choose one that has hyaluronic acid, argan oil, and other ingredients that will keep your skin plump and hydrated. For sun damage, look for a formula that has vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid. We recommend the iS Clinical Body Complex or the Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Body Lotion.
What are the benefits of retinol?
Retinol exfoliates your skin and increases collagen production, leading to firmer, smoother-looking skin. It can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, clear body acne, and correct hyperpigmentation. Therefore, applying it weekly in the months leading up to your wedding day (three to six months, at least) can help create an even skin tone and texture that will look stunning from head to toe as you walk down the aisle.
Can I use retinol lotion every day?
Since retinol is less potent when infused into a lotion and mixed with other ingredients, it's likely safe to use every day. However, it depends on the specific product. Make sure to check the label and read the directions for best practices to ensure the best results and avoid any irritation.