I Reviewed SkinCeuticals’ Retinol Night Cream and It Smoothed My Fine Lines

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SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

skinceuticals retinol 1.0 maximum strength refining night cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

What We Like
  • Minimizes pores and fine lines

  • A little goes a long way

  • Gentle formula

What We Don't Like
  • Price per ounce is expensive

  • May cause some dryness

  • Must avoid direct sunlight

The SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream is an effective yet gentle product that is worth working into any anti-aging skincare routine.


SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

skinceuticals retinol 1.0 maximum strength refining night cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

We put the Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream to the test after receiving a complimentary sample from the brand. Keep reading for our full product review. 

I’ve never used any type of retinol product before in my life, so I was excited to test the SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream. It’s always been one of those buzz words constantly lingering around me: Retinol. The anti-aging superhero ingredient is a vitamin A derivative that has a golden reputation in the skincare industry for its ability to encourage cell turnover. As someone who loves caring for their skin more than any other lane of beauty, I was eager to put it to the test. I did, however, have concerns over the fact that I’d never used retinol before on my super sensitive skin. This trial run could be a game changer for me, but it could also backfire.

Keep reading for my honest review of the SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream.

Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Best for: All skin types

Uses: Reduce fine lines and large pores

Potential allergens: Bisabolol, lecithin, alcohol

Active ingredients: Dimethicone, retinol, bisabolol, boswellia serrata extract

Byrdie Clean?: No (contains BHT)

Cruelty-Free?: No

Price: $88

About the brand: SkinCeuticals produces science-backed skincare used by dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Popular products include its Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier Serum and C E Ferulic Serum.

About My Skin: Sensitive 

I’m pretty minimal when it comes to my skincare routine and always prioritize moisturizing multiple times per day. I typically experience eczema on my body year-round, but not on my face. I hardly ever wear makeup. I rinse with cold water day and night, and the products in my current rotation include a daytime moisturizer with SPF and anti-oxidizing serum. At nighttime, I add in an anti-aging eye cream and swap my SPF with a calming moisturizer for sensitive skin. I use a gentle face wash about twice a month—on the days I wear mascara—and use occasional aloe-based witch hazel to treat any hormonal breakouts I get. 

When it comes to keeping up with skincare, sometimes I feel like a teenage girl who’s still using her Neutrogena Face Wash. While I never skimp on maintenance, I know that I need to give more thought and intention to what I’m applying to my target areas, which are the wrinkles on my forehead, crow's feet around my eyes, and the sunspots I’ve acquired growing up in Southern California where I wore my peeling tan with a badge of honor. I’ve definitely upgraded the products in my routine, though I haven’t taken a lot of time to be experimental with the latest age-appropriate hero ingredients, retinol being one of them. 

The Feel: Lightweight cream

This cream is quick to seep out of the bottle with any pressure applied. The instructions say to use 4-6 drops, but this cream does not disperse in drops as oil would. Its lightweight formula comes out quickly and settles into skin instantly. 

Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

Ingredients: Highly concentrated

SkinCeuticals has made a non-comedogenic, paraben-, fragrance-, and gluten-free formula ideal for skin that’s been previously treated with a lower percentage of retinol.

With 1 percent retinol, this is one of the more potent retinol-based products on the market. A derivative of vitamin A, retinol works to increase cell turnover, smoothing out crow's feet, wrinkles, and discoloration. This transformative ingredient, with time and consistent use, can also help prevent clogged pores and breakouts.

SkinCeuticals Refining Night Cream also has a smoothing complex mixed in to keep skin calm. The complex includes bisabolol derived from chamomile and boswellia serrata extract derived from frankincense. Chamomile is known to be a smoothing antioxidant that can calm and moisturize the skin, while frankincense works to support cell regeneration. It also aids in strengthening elasticity, controlling acne, and fading scars. 

The Results: Impactful

For the first week, I only used this cream every other night, so I didn't notice much of a difference right away.

Testing Insight

When I bumped things up to nightly use in the second week of testing, I felt like my problem areas were softening. 

Now, it’s typically recommended that you begin with lower grade retinol at 0.1 to 0.3 percent before graduating on to something as concentrated as the 1 percent Refining Night Cream. I hadn't used retinol before, but my skin handled it pretty well because I eased into using it.

It's advised to stay out of direct sunlight when using retinol. With spring settling in, I’d been outside doing more yard work and playing with my toddler for hours on end each day. There was one day I forgot to grab a sun hat to cover my face and it felt like a magnifying glass was hovering over my cheekbone, the sun beaming its rays directly into my dermal layers. Because of this, I did experience a burning sensation when I applied the cream that evening, but it felt fine the night after and there were no significant signs of damage. 

My sun spots didn’t disappear in record time—not that I expected them to in three weeks. I realize the true magic of retinol doesn’t appear for at least three months. My hormonal breakouts relaxed but didn’t entirely dissipate, and I did recognize a softening around my fine lines and wrinkles. 

Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

Sensitivity: Acid and heat

The two factors that I know can have sour interactions with retinol are other acids and sun exposure. If you’re using other skincare products that contain certain acids such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid, you'll want to opt-out of pairing these with retinol to avoid irritation. 

And as I learned while trialing this product, you should avoid sun exposure. The packaging does warn against this and encourages daily use of SPF, which I had started doing before using this cream. But again, like a retinol newbie with sensitive skin, I was already breaking some of the rules with this cream. So it was no surprise my skin experienced an uncomfortable burning sensation when I failed to take precautions. 

The Value: Surprisingly long-lasting

The value at first glance seems criminal at $88 for only one ounce of product! It definitely has a high price tag compared to other retinol creams for a fraction of the cost. However, a product like this not only boasts a higher ingredient concentration, but it doesn’t require much product per use. Since you don’t need a ton to get you through, an ounce should last most of the year. When you break down the cost per use, it’s more reasonable.

Skinceuticals Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream

Byrdie / Ashley Rubell

Similar Products: You've got cheaper options

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane ($6): Who says retinol has to be expensive? At only $6, this 0.5% pure retinol serum is a win, especially when you're just starting out.

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum ($65): Up your retinol game with this 1.5% microencapsulated retinol serum. This lab-created version of retinol is said to provide anti-aging results and cause far less irritation than traditional retinol.

Final Verdict

While I may not have been the ideal candidate for this product due to my lack of retinol experience, I’m pleased to report that this product was still gentle enough not to cause any adverse reactions on my sensitive skin. Despite facing a little dryness at first, my skin is already beginning to feel smoother. If this isn’t your first retinol rodeo, I highly recommend working this product into your routine.


  • Product Name Retinol 1.0 Maximum Strength Refining Night Cream
  • Product Brand SkinCeuticals
  • Price $88.00
  • Weight 1 oz.
  • Ingredients Aqua/Water/Eau, Propanediol, Dimethicone, Cetearyl Ethylhexanoate, Alcohol Denat., Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Dipropylene Glycol, Ammonium Polyacryloyldimethyl Taurate, Acrylamide/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Retinol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polysorbate 20, Isohexadecane, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Isopropyl Myristate, Sodium Citrate, Boswellia Serrata Gum, Polysorbate 80, Bht, Dimethiconol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Bisabolol, Sorbitan Oleate, Citric Acid, Propyl Gallate.

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