What Is Retinol Night Cream?

Madeleine A.

Retinol night cream is a skin preparation that has been shown to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and fine lines. Typically, retinol night cream is applied before bedtime so that it can work overnight. Certain retinol creams contain ingredients that benefit oily complexions, while other creams work to treat dry complexions. Although use on the face has been deemed relatively safe, retinol creams may not be appropriate for use on other parts of the body.

Retinol night cream may be used to improve the overall condition of the skin.
Retinol night cream may be used to improve the overall condition of the skin.

Although generally well tolerated, a retinol night cream can cause minor skin irritation such as redness, irritation, and inflammation. If an allergic reaction to a retinol night cream does occur, its use should be discontinued and a physician consulted. Certain retinol creams have higher concentrations than others. Retinol preparations containing the least amount of retinol generally produce minimal skin reactions.

Retinol night cream may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Retinol night cream may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

People prone to acne or breakouts may want to consider an alternative to retinol night cream. Although effective in treating fine lines and wrinkles, retinol creams can worsen acne. In addition, a retinol night cream can also block the pores, further exacerbating acne. A dermatologist can determine if retinol products can safely be used in those with acne conditions.

Retinol night cream may cause minor skin irritation.
Retinol night cream may cause minor skin irritation.

Because retinol can prove drying to the skin, it can cause flakiness. Although this effect is generally temporary, alternating with a moisturizing product that does not contain retinol may help. Retinol creams are not only beneficial to facial skin, they can also help reduce the appearance of crow's feet around the eyes. There are retinol creams specifically designed for use around the eye area, which can be purchased at the cosmetic counter at a department store or even a drug store.

Retinoids are a type of vitamin A, and although preparations containing them can be purchased through retail outlets, prescription strength preparations are also available. To obtain a prescription-strength retinol night cream, a dermatologist usually needs to evaluate the condition of the skin and recommend an effective concentration of retinol.

Purchasing a retinol night cream from a drug store is generally less expensive than purchasing one at a department store. In addition, since these preparations are rarely covered by insurance plans, obtaining prescription-strength retinol may prove costly. Prior to using any type of retinol cream, however, a patch test should be done to determine skin sensitivity. Even products containing the lowest percentages of retinol can produce local skin irritations.

Retinol cream is effective at reducing crow's feet.
Retinol cream is effective at reducing crow's feet.

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Discussion Comments


The key to getting effects from retinol products is using them consistently. I like retinol night cream the most because I think it has more time to really get to work and improve my skin.


@burcinc-- Several different things might have happened in your case. Your retinol cream might have a high concentration of retinol or you might have used too much. Or your skin might have reacted to another ingredient in the cream.

If high concentrations of retinol are used on skin too quickly, some irritation can occur. That's why you should always start out with a cream containing a very low concentration of retinol. And you should only apply a small amount in the beginning. As skin adapts, the concentration and amount can slowly be increased.

Also, when you use a retinol night cream, make sure to use a day cream with sun protection as retinol can increase the sensitivity to sunlight.


I've been hearing great things about retinol cream. I heard that it exfoliates skin, prevents acne, reduces wrinkles and makes skin softer and smoother. So I finally decided to give it a try and purchased a retinol night cream. But my skin did not react well to it. I developed some redness and irritation after my first use which got worse after the second use so I had to stop using it. I'm upset because I was very excited about this product.

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