Should I Use Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, Or Both?


Between the 11-step routines on TikTok, the rotation of buzzy miracle substances, and celebs who swear they solely use olive oil, youth-boosting skincare might be overwhelming and complicated. The excellent news? It doesn’t need to be. Pinpointing one of the best substances to work in your particular pores and skin considerations doesn’t need to be sophisticated — and in accordance with most pores and skin consultants, retinol and hyalouronic acid are two of the primary substances to know. In response to Dr. Ellen Marmur, founding father of MMSkincare, “in case you are in search of a hydration enhance and anti inflammatory, then hyaluronic acid is the suitable alternative. In case you are seeking to fight wrinkles and growing old, then retinol is the higher alternative.”

However how do they work? Will the outcomes final? Are you able to combine and match? Are you a hyaluronic acid particular person? A retinol particular person? We quizzed our fave derms for his or her skilled POVs. Spoiler alert: You actually can’t go flawed.

First, let’s discuss retinol. What’s it? How does it work?

“Put merely, retinol is vitamin A,” says Dr. Angelo Landriscina. “It has been utilized in skincare for years due to its means to smooth the appearance of wrinkles and even out pores and skin tone,” he provides. In response to Dr. Marmur, it helps with acne and enlarged pores too.

So is it magic? Sort of. “Retinol acts with receptors within the nucleus of pores and skin cells, resulting in a number of results together with: improved pores and skin cell turnover, elevated collagen manufacturing, and decreased collagen degradation,” explains Dr. Megan O’Brien. Principally, you’ll have refreshed, bouncier, smoother pores and skin in case you use retinol constantly — which, relying in your pores and skin considerations, can imply making use of it each evening, each different evening, and even simply two instances every week.

You may need heard of the buzzy prescription retinoid (an umbrella time period for all vitamin A derivatives), tretinoin. You’ll must see a derm to get it, but it surely provides the quickest and most dramatic outcomes. On the flip facet, it could actually trigger sensitivity, dryness, and another uncomfortable side effects. If a gentler model is extra your velocity, there are tons of nice over-the-counter retinol formulation that do the trick. “In case you have delicate pores and skin, be cautious when introducing retinol into your skincare routine,” says Dr. Marmur. Which means ready a number of days in between making use of retinol and utilizing soothing merchandise in between (additionally known as skin cycling).

And what does hyaluronic acid do for the pores and skin?

We even have hyaluronic acid already in our pores and skin, however making use of it by way of serums and moisturizers could make your complexion look additional supple. “Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance,” says Dr. O’Brien. “When used topically, it attracts water and moisture to the pores and skin,” she explains.

In response to Dr. Landriscina, its means to draw water ends in seen plumping of the pores and skin. “It additionally helps retain moisture within the pores and skin,” provides Dr. Marmur. It’s known as a humectant, which implies that it attracts in moisture, type of like a sponge absorbing water.

Apart from getting used topically, it’s additionally the primary ingredient in injectable fillers. “Hyaluronic acid is used to revolumize the face and physique the place quantity has been misplaced because of the growing old course of,” Dr. O’Brien explains.

Right here’s one essential factor to find out about hyaluronic acid: opposite to what magnificence promoting may declare, it’s not a miracle ingredient and it’s extra of a skin-plumper reasonably than an precise moisturizing ingredient. Slathering it on won’t magically erase wrinkles in a single day, or immediately repair your dry-skin downside. For those who’re utilizing a hyaluronic acid serum, it’s essential to use it on damp pores and skin, and seal it in along with your favourite moisturizer afterwards to reap the skin-plumping outcomes. In any other case, the serum can really dry out or irritate your pores and skin as a substitute of boosting hydration.

Is retinol or hyaluronic acid higher for wrinkles?

If you wish to dramatically scale back (or stop) positive traces and wrinkles, attain for retinol. If you need plumper, dewier pores and skin, go for HA. If you need all of it? Use each! “There isn’t a problem with mixing these two,” says Dr. Landriscina. Actually, “since retinol might be an irritant, making use of a hyaluronic acid product after utilizing retinol might help to retain moisture within the pores and skin,” provides Dr. O’Brien.

However in case you needed to choose only one, the entire docs voted retinol as most probably to succeed. “So far as sturdy change within the look of wrinkles, there’s a wealth of proof to assist retinol,” Dr. Landriscina explains. “Theoretically, HA can enhance the looks of wrinkles as a consequence of its plumping motion. However this consequence will solely final for so long as the product continues to be current on the pores and skin.”

“Retinol is scientifically confirmed to deal with and forestall positive traces and wrinkles by stimulating the pores and skin’s collagen,” says Dr. O’Brien. “Anybody who’s fascinated with an anti-aging skincare routine ought to incorporate one thing within the retinoid household,” she provides. “An OTC retinol is a superb place to begin since will probably be much less irritating than prescription retinoids. Begin utilizing it each different evening and over time enhance to nightly use if tolerated,” O’Brien advises.

That stated, you’ll be able to’t go flawed with each. “Since retinoids have anti-aging properties and hyaluronic acid helps pores and skin retain moisture, each are nice choices,” says Dr. Marmur.

The 4 Greatest Hyaluronic Acid Merchandise, Really helpful By Dermatologists

Kiehl’s Important Pores and skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Tremendous Serum

A light-weight, clinically confirmed mix of micronized (teeny, tiny, easily-penetrable) hyaluronic acid and adaptogenic herbs that assist create bouncier, glowier, healthier-looking pores and skin.

SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator

This cult-loved serum provides an on the spot blast of hydration now, makes use of time-released hyaluronic acid to assist retain moisture, and smoothes texture and positive traces.

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Acid, $60

With 15 (!) types of hyaluronic compounds and a peptide-charged supply system, this very high-tech components leaves pores and skin plumper, extra youthful-looking, and tremendous hydrated.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum

Apart from wanting stylish in your vainness, this silky watergel mix of hylaronic acid and three antioxidant-rich plums leaves pores and skin supple, dewy, and glowing.

The 4 Greatest Retinol Merchandise, Really helpful By Derms

Olay Regenerist Retinol24 MAX Facial Moisturizer, $35

This drugstore favourite does all of the retinol issues — brightening, smoothing, wrinkle-minimizing, firming, pore-refining — whereas additionally hydrating for twenty-four hours.

MMSkincare Vibrant & Tight Retinol Eye Cream

Retinol, caffeine, and peptides gently soothe, de-puff, brighten, and refresh the fragile undereye and giggle line space.

Naturium Retinol Advanced Cream

Encapsulated retinol and plant-derived retinol group up with squalane and extra to spice up elasticity, smoothness, brightness, and texture — with none irritation.

No7 Pure Retinol Evening Focus

This concentrated serum is formulated to slowly launch the retinol supply, optimize the advantages, and soothe (or stop) any irritation it causes.


Mukherjee, S., Date, A., Patravale, V., Korting, H. C., Roeder, A., & Weindl, G. (2006). Retinoids within the therapy of pores and skin growing old: an outline of scientific efficacy and security. Scientific interventions in growing old, 1(4), 327–348.

Leyden, J., Stein-Gold, L., & Weiss, J. (2017). Why Topical Retinoids Are Mainstay of Remedy for Zits. Dermatology and remedy, 7(3), 293–304.

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