Best Moisturizer to Use with Retinol

If you struggle with things like acne or want to get rid of fine lines, retinol is a fantastic choice to reduce the appearance of both of these things. The only issue with retinol creams is that they can sometimes dry out the skin. What’s a person to do?

The answer? Purchasing a good moisturizer. This is especially useful during the winter months when your skin is more susceptible to damage from the cold. 

Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to spot good quality moisturizers that you can use with retinol cream - you simply need to know what it is that you’re looking for. 

Much like a good moisturizer, we’ve got you covered. Just read on to find out some of our picks for the best moisturizers out there to use with retinol cream, and a useful buyer’s guide to help you know what to look out for! 

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Best Moisturizer to Use with Retinol - Comparison Table

Best Moisturizer to Use with Retinol - Reviews

The Luminositie Dragon’s Blood Serum is an anti-aging solution that helps to fight signs of aging. It’s also ‘nature’s answer to botox.’ This solution is ideal for giving your skin that little extra lift for a youthful glow. 

The solution is ideal for helping to maintain the health of your skin, and has the ability to help repair any broken skin. It is a gentle formula that is extremely healing.

The formula also helps to remove any dirt from the pores and it kills harmful bacteria. It helps to reduce any redness you may experience, ideal for use with retinol. 

The serum contains proanthocyanidins. What are these, you ask? Proanthocyanidins are designed to stop your skin from getting damaged by the environment. 

The serum contains a bunch of helpful ingredients, such as aloe vera which is used to calm and nourish the skin. It’s also vegan friendly!


  • Calming ingredients
  • Natural alternative to botox

  • Anti-aging properties


  • Some users have reported tightening feelings in the skin after use (I would say that is a Pro)

This versatile moisturizing cream is ideal for a whole range of skin conditions. It’s extremely safe for problematic skin, and can help with adult acne, dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and many others. 

The formula is very thick which is great for if you have skin that edges towards the drier end of the spectrum. It makes the skin feel very soft as a result of the MVE Delivery technology contained within the formula. 

This moisturizer also works very well with controlling oil in the skin too. It comes highly recommended by dermatologists, and is a bestseller. It works well with repairing the skin, and is made using hyaluronic acid with lots of moisturizing elements. 

It can also be regularly applied, and it doesn’t clog the pores too much. It’s also hypoallergenic too. It’s a little expensive but it’s worth it for a good quality formula like this.


  • Soft feeling skin after use
  • Can be applied regularly

  • Hypoallergenic


  • Should be used with a retinol treatment to feel the full effects if you have acne-prone skin

The Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Face Moisturizer is a fantastic hydrating formula that’s stuffed with hyaluronic acid. This helps to retain the skin’s natural moisture and keeps your skin hydrated.

The formula is ideal for both oily and dry skin alike, and obviously this also goes for combination skin. It’s non-comedogenic so it doesn’t clog up the pores. It also has no irritants like oils, dyes and fragrances. 

The formula comes in a nice feeling gel consistency and it keeps the face soft throughout the day. It’s quite affordable, and there are quite a number of other products in this range to use with it if you want to.

The formula is very lightweight and doesn't feel greasy after use. If you’re on the move a lot it even comes in a smaller version that’s safe for putting in your handbag. The formula can even make a good primer.

Overall, it’s a fantastic choice for use with retinol and is especially good for dry skin, and is versatile to boot. A good moisturizer? We think so!


  • Refreshing feeling
  • Makes skin feel soft

  • Hydrating elements

  • Versatile and can be used for both oily and dry skin

  • Ideal for sensitive skin


  • Some users have reported that it has a strong smell

The Eau Thermale Avene Skin Recovery Cream is ideal for dry flaking skin. For this reason, it’s an ideal companion to retinol treatment. Made with mineral oil as one of the main ingredients, the produce creates a barrier on the skin that helps to protect from harmful substances. It stops the skin from losing any water in the skin and keeps it hydrated. 

The cream is able to reduce any damage from the sun’s UV rays as it incorporates Thermal Water in the solution. It has a lightweight texture and is completely fragrance free.

The solution is also easy to use, and has a good quality performance on the skin. It will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth, and it helps to strengthen the skin’s defences against harmful substances.

The formula is ideal for normal, dry and combination skin. If your skin is super dry then it may be worth looking elsewhere though. It works the best during the summer for this reason, as the skin can be worse during the winter. 

The formula is somewhat expensive, but it is a very good option that’s worth considering to use with retinol treatment, as it will be ideal for helping with the dryness side effects.


  • Helps to protect from the sun
  • Works for a range of skin types

  • Fragrance free

  • Lightweight feel on the skin


  • Not the best for extremely dry skin

The first feature to note with this moisturizer is that it has SPF 30, which is perfect for going out and about in the sun during the scorching summer months.

As people with oily skin will know, things with SPF in them can make the skin feel quite greasy after a long day of wearing it. Thankfully, the Differin Oil Absorbing Moisturizer with SPF 30 does not cause this problem. The finish is mattified too but it doesn’t dry out the skin.

The formula is very lightweight and provides a lot of  UVB/UVA protection. Thankfully, it can even be used with retinol - Bingo! 

There’s a reason this moisturizer is so highly ranked by Amazon! It’s more than suitable for those that have more acne prone skin and it’s suitable for oily skin. It’s not the best choice for dry skin. 

This formula is also ideal as it’s hypoallergenic, with no harming substances in the formula that could cause your skin problems after use. It’s free of any irritants, so you can rest assured that your skin won’t get flare ups after using it. There are also a massive range of products from the Differin line that you can use alongside this moisturizer if you are fond of this moisturizer.

All in all, it’s a moisturizer you won’t be disappointed in that will allow you to bask in the sun for hours without harming the skin. Oh, and you can use it with retinol. What more is there to love?


  • Suitable for oily skin
  • Matte finish

  • Hypoallergenic


  • Not the best for dry skin

Best Moisturizer to Use with Retinol - Buyers Guide

Things to Look For

Protection from the Sun

You should try to choose a moisturizer that can protect you from the sun, especially in the warmer summer months. Factor 30 is usually the ideal thing to look for. 

Skin Types

As the skin on the face is sensitive, you should try to use a different face moisturizer than what you use on your body. It’s best to try and use one that’s non-comedogenic, especially if your skin is oily as this won’t block up your pores. 

You should always try to ensure that the moisturizer that you use is suitable for your skin type. If your skin is sensitive, then go for a hypoallergenic option. If your skin is oily, then have a lighter moisturizer that’s free of oil. Dry skin? A rich moisturizer should do the trick. If it’s a combination skin type, then use a light moisturizer on most of the face, and where it’s dry then dot a heavier cream on these areas. 

Dermatologist Approved

Though there are some very good quality moisturizers that aren’t dermatologist approved, you should still try to look out for ones that are. Dermatologists are the experts on skin care, so if it’s been approved you’ll know that it’s suitable for skin. Still, with this being said you should try and work out what products work best for you. 


Skin care can get super expensive with so much out on the market. You’ve even got some premium brands being recommended by celebrities, and they can cost you a lot of money. 

If you don’t have the budget for super expensive skin care it can be a little disheartening, but there are so many good ones out there that don’t cost so much money. 

Should I choose a lotion, cream or an ointment?

This depends on your skin type and how the skin behaves. If your skin is more dry or itchy then an ointment would likely work best.

With normal skin, opt for a cream as these are usually much thinner. 

The lightest of the three, lotions, are usually well suited to oily skin, especially as water is the primary ingredient. 

How to Apply Moisturizer when using Retinol

There are two different methods to apply moisturizer when using retinol:


Buffering is when you combine the retinol with the moisturizer. This will help to dilute the retinol and it helps to reduce the amount of dryness and flakiness you get from it. 

This will reduce how efficient the retinol is, but it will still be effective in providing the amount of moisture your skin needs. It’s the best option for those people who struggle with the full effects of the retinol solution. 

Moisturizer after Retinol

If your skin will be fine and isn’t sensitive, you can use a moisturizer after you’ve used the retinol treatment. You should give the retinol about one to two minutes to set on the skin before you try to apply any moisturizer. This will make it much more effective. 

Tops for Using Retinol

Slowly Building Tolerance

It can take a while for your skin to get used to retinol treatment. Start by applying smaller amounts, and then use more as you go. This will help you to build tolerance of the products and will make you less likely to experience the side effects. 

If you find that it’s too much of a harsh solution for your skin you can wash it off later in the day after it’s on your skin for a couple of hours, giving it time to sink in. 

Use it Every Other Day

If you keep having side effects with the treatment, you should try applying it every other day instead of every single day and reduce your usage slightly. This will give the skin some time to breathe and rest. 

When your skin starts reacting better to the treatment you can keep using it as specified. 

Don’t Use Too Much

With retinol treatment sometimes it’s better to use it less often than you may think. You may want to use the treatment more often than specified, but it can cause more problems if you use it more often than necessary. It can cause your skin to flake and dry more often. 

Have Patience

A treatment like this can take some time to work.. It needs to adapt to your skin and it can take time for it to work its magic. It can even take a few weeks to even see progress. Just have some patience, it will eventually start working. 

Professional Consultations

If you have any questions about retinol treatment, it’s worth speaking to a professional dermatologist who can help answer any questions that you have. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is retinol?

Retinol is used for things like acne, and fine lines. Usually, the formula is applied directly to any of the affected areas and it comes as either a gel or cream, usually. 

The skin is exfoliated more quickly when you use it as it helps to speed up the rate the cells turn over. It helps to reduce the amount of blockage in the pores. 

Why does retinol make your skin dry?

It’s quite common to get dry skin as a side effect of using retinol. It’s more common to happen when you first start using it. Don’t abandon the treatment when this happens though! You’re less likely to get dry and flaky skin once your skin becomes used to the treatment. 

You should try to use a mild cleanser alongside the retinol, and a good moisturizer to properly care for the skin. 

What should I avoid when using retinol cream?

When purchasing a moisturizer to use in conjunction with your retinol cream, you should ideally try to avoid things like glycolic acid, benzoyl and lactic acid, and also any vitamin c and alcohols. 

The reason for this is that these ingredients can also act as exfoliants and can sometimes dry out the skin, which is already an issue with using retinol and something you want to avoid in a moisturizer. 

In addition, you may find that things like lanolin, mineral oil and shea butter are very good moisturizers but the issue is they’re not ideal for moisturizing the face as they can clog the pores. It can reverse all the progress you’ve made with your skin when using the retinol. 

You should also try to avoid moisturizers that are antibacterial. These can be very harsh on the skin. In layman's terms, your moisturizer should do just that - moisturize. This is its main job. 

When using retinol, you should also not use it around the eye. This is because the skin around the eyes is thinner and a lot more sensitive.

Should I use a moisturizer with Retinol already in the formula?

There are quite a few moisturizers on the market that already contain retinol in them. The one thing to mention here is that it can be a bit of a risk to use them both in one product. It can even cause some irritation.

You should try and look out for formulas already mixed by brands that specialise in cosmetics, as they tend to have been tested already to ensure that it will work well for your skin. 

The other thing to be mindful of is that it can be unhealthy to apply your moisturizer before you put the retinol on your skin, as the extra hydration can aggravate the skin and the other side effects you may get with retinol treatment.

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