Review: La Roche-Posay's Retinol B3 Serum Makes Sensitive Skin Glow

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La Roche-Posay Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

Emily Algar

What We Like
  • Well-priced

  • Contains two forms of vitamin A (retinol and retinyl palmitate)

  • Treats aging, uneven skin tone, and acne

  • Niacinamide helps to prevent irritation

What We Don't Like
  • Fragrance may irritate some skin types

  • May cause reactions for some, so monitor closely

As far as drugstore retinols go, the La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum is a fantastic option. It’s reasonably priced, contains two forms of vitamin A, and uses niacinamide to prevent the standard irritation that comes with actives in skincare.


La Roche-Posay Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

Emily Algar

We put La Roche-Posay's Retinol B3 Serum to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review.

Of all the skincare vitamins, I’d have to say that A is my favorite. Commonly known as retinol, it truly does it all: clears, decongests, smooths, and refines. It’s super-active, and my complexion wouldn't be the same without it. The one caveat, though, is that it can irritate the skin, especially in the early days of using a new retinol product.

Luckily, this dilemma doesn’t mean sensitive skin types should miss out on the benefits entirely. Enter La Roche-Posay's Retinol B3 Serum, an effective vitamin A formula with the addition of niacinamide, a known skin soother. The latter ingredient works to minimize irritation, but you still get all the skin-turnover benefits of the retinol. How good a deal is that?

If this genius product has piqued your interest, you’re in luck, because I tried it and mapped out my thoughts below. Keep scrolling for my full review.

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

Best for: Normal, oily, dry, combination, mature, and acne-prone skin types. 

Uses: As an active treatment serum to target signs of aging, uneven skin tone, dullness, and breakouts.

Star rating: 4/5 

Potential allergens: Added fragrance

Active ingredients: Retinol, retinyl palmitate

Price: $40

About the brand: La Roche-Posay is a French pharmacy brand built on the healing power of thermal spring water from its titular source. Now, it’s a global brand that specializes in all skin conditions, specifically sensitive and acne-prone skin.

About My Skin: Prone to breakouts and hyperpigmentation

My skin is generally pretty good, but I’m very much prone to blackheads, whiteheads, and the ensuing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I also have a little bit of sun damage and can experience sensitivity from time to time, although I put this last point down to my career trialing different skincare products, sometimes in excess.

I first dipped my toes into the pool of vitamin A about three years ago during a particularly bad bout of acne. I had never really considered it, but after six weeks of consistent use, my skin had pretty much cleared. Since that time, I’ve tried a few different formulas, one of them being the La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum (which, spoiler alert, I really like).

The Feel: Lightweight and hydrating

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum

Emily Algar

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum has a lightweight, yet hydrating texture that absorbs fast into your skin. The addition of the B3 means that the serum shouldn't sting or irritate the skin as some retinol products can. Many reviewers commented that this serum actually leaves skin soft and hydrated after application.

The Ingredients: Effective and minimally irritating

If you find your skin peels or flakes persistently when you use a retinol product, La Roche-Posay's Retinol B3 Serum might be a gentle-but-still-effective alternative. The ingredients are powerful, yet gentle.

  • Retinol and retinyl palmitate: This product contains two forms of vitamin A. The pure retinol offers a concentrated boost, whereas retinyl palmitate is time-released, so the effects are less intense. 
  • Vitamin B3, also known as niacinamide: It’s there to act as a buffer, soothing the skin, reinforcing the barrier, and mitigating the effects of irritation.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Helps to hydrate and plump skin, keeping skin moisturized to diminish the look of fine lines.

How To Apply: Smooth on 3-4 drops

La Roche-Posey Retinol B3 Serum

Emily Algar

Use the dropper to apply three to four drops of La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum every evening to your face, neck, and chest. You can layer a moisturizer on top for additional hydration. If your skin gets dry or starts to peel, you can apply every other night until your skin adjusts. Avoid getting this product around your eyes as it could cause irritation. Make sure you use sunscreen during the day as retinol can make you more sensitive to the sun. 

The Results: Pretty impressive

La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum Results on Emily Algar

Emily Algar/Design by Cristina Cianci

Tickle me impressed. For the price, La Roche Posay's Retinol B3 Serum is a really good product. I wouldn’t label it as the best for my skin concerns, but I did see results, loved the feel, and think it’s a solid option for those who struggle with the associated irritation. As far as drugstore retinol products go, it’s certainly up there with one of the best I’ve come across, too.

It’s typically marketed as an anti-aging ingredient but truthfully works for a whole range of skin concerns, including acne and congestion. The only thing to remember is that it’s powerful, even in this instance, so always start slow, apply in the evening, and be sure to wear your SPF daily (but you probably already knew that last part).

The Value: Amazing for a retinol

As far as retinol serums are concerned, the value here is incredible. I found it to be super effective, non-irritating, and lovely to use—all qualities I’d expect from a product four times the price. You also get the benefit of niacinamide, which is very nice. Because of the accessible price point, I even used it to treat a patch of pigmentation on my stomach (with great success, I might add).

What to Look For

When deciding on the best serum for you, consider both your skin type and the issues you want to tackle. This product is best for those who want to improve the texture of their skin, smooth acne scars, fine lines, and wrinkles, as well as diminish hyperpigmentation. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you may need a serum that is more gentle and doesn’t contain retinol.

Similar Products: You've got options

Versed Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum: Labeled as a retinol for first-time users, this gentle (and affordable) option from Versed ($22) is all kinds of wonderful. The star ingredient is a micro-encapsulated retinol, plus there are arophira and bakuchiol to give you a healthier complexion without any redness. Bonus points for the inclusion of shea butter and hyaluronic acid, ensuring skin stays moisturized while the product is at work.

Sunday Riley A+ High Dose Retinol Serum: Well-versed retinol users will love this option from Sunday Riley ($85) for its effectiveness and nourishing skin benefits. In this formula, you'll find retinol, CoQ10, cactus extract, and Hawaiian white honey, all of which work together to give you smooth, clear, even skin.

First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Serum: Another product best for first-timers or sensitive skin types, First Aid Beauty's low-dose retinol ($58) is also buffered with soothing extracts to reduce the chances of flaking, peeling, and redness. It’s a great option for fine lines and mild breakouts.

Final Verdict

La Roche-Posay's Retinol B3 Serum ticks every box: it's well-priced, effective, and suitable for most skin types. If you’re slightly sensitive, haven’t had luck with other retinol products, or are looking for a more affordable option, it doesn’t get much better than this. Personally, I had really good results in terms of evening out my skin tone and reducing the incidence of breakouts, too.


  • Product Name Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3
  • Product Brand La Roche-Posay
  • Price $40.00
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Full Ingredient List Aqua/Water/Eau, Glycerin, Cyclohexasiloxane, Alcohol Denat., Pentylene Glycol, Niacinamide, Dimethicone, Glycine Soja Oil/Soybean Oil, Ppg-6-Decyltetradeceth-30, Sodium Hyaluronate, Retinol, Adenosine, Ammoniumpolyacryloyldimethyltaurate, Caprylyl Glycol, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Xanthan Gum, Polysilicone-11, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopherol, Phenoxyethanol, Parfum/Fragrance.

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