A New Favorite: Green Cream – High Potency Retinol

Skin Care

Recently, I have been blogging about retinol creams a lot, and for good reason. As Jenny Bailly, a freelance beauty writer writes in the December 2007 Allure, “If dermatologists ever wrote an ode, it would probably be to retinoids — with an opening line stolen from Elizabeth Barrett Browning: ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…'” Put simply, retinoids are a favorite, doing everything from regenerating collagen to softening wrinkle appearance to unclogging the pores. For more, read on about my latest discovery, Green Cream!

How do Green Cream 3, 6, and 9 compare to other retinol creams on the market?

Green Cream cleverly uses “levels” to denote the percentage of retinol in the product. So, Green Cream Level 3 ($35.95, SkincareRx.com) contains 0.3% retinol, Green Cream Level 6 ($42.95, SkincareRx.com) contains 0.6% retinol, and Green Cream Level 9 ($49.95, SkincareRx.com) contains 0.9% retinol. This is significant, as there are few products on the U.S. market with similar levels of retinol (for instance, Neutrogena Healthy Skin, an excellent and effective product, has less than 0.2% retinol.) In fact, only Skinceuticals 0.5 and Skinceuticals 1.0 compare to the level of retinol in Green Cream (at 0.5% and 1.0% retinol, respectively), and only Skinceuticals 1.0 contains more retinol than Green Cream Level 9.

How do the anti-aging ingredients in Green Cream and Skinceuticals 0.5 compare?

Green Cream Level 3 contains a fairly high concentration of vitamin E as tocopheryl acetate, which has a higher environmental protection factor (a measure of antioxidant capacity) than most, but not all, other antioxidants. Green Cream Levels 6 and 9 also contain vitamin E, although in less high concentrations. To soothe (retinol can be irritating), Green Cream contains a high concentration of soothing aloe vera gel and cucumber extract in all levels.

On the other hand, Skinceuticals 0.5 does not contain anti-aging vitamin E, but instead contains ceramides 2 and 3. An article in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science reports that ceramides replenish reduced ceramide levels (particularly the phytosphingosine-containing ceramides) and levels of long-chain fatty acids in dry skin. However, according to this 2000 study by the same author, it was found that moisturizers incorporating ceramide 3 had no greater effect on transepidermal water loss (TEWL) than ordinary lotions without ceramide 3. To soothe, Skinceuticals 0.5 contains bisabolol and chamomile, although in fairly low concentrations.

Therefore, those with dry skin may like the slight hydrating effect of ceramides from Skinceuticals 0.5, but overall, the antioxidant benefit of vitamin E in Green Cream has more established anti-aging benefits. Both are great products, but due to the vitamin E and extra soothing ingredients in Green Cream, I give it a 9.5 to Skinceuticals’ 9.

Personal Opinions

After using Green Cream Level 6 for two weeks (with 0.6% retinol), I personally see an improvement in the smoothness of my skin. Previously, I was using Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15 ($24.23 for two, Amazon.com), with a high concentration of green tea and less than 0.2% retinol, and I see a difference from the switch. I plan to use Green Cream Level 6 for a few months to let my skin tolerize, and then move on to Green Cream Level 9.

Where can I find more information about retinol?

For information about retinol use, please visit this post.

For information about Philosophy Help Me Retinol or Neutrogena Healthy Skin with Retinol, please visit this post.

For information about Skinceuticals 0.5, please visit this post.


It was hard to do, but Green Cream has triumphed as my favorite retinol cream to date! Product Rating: 9.5/10

Level 3 Ingredients List

Water, ethanol, glycerin, octyldodecanol, aloe vera gel, butylene glycol, cucumis sativus extract, tocopheryl acetate, cetyl dimethicone copolyol, retinol, polysorbate 20, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, acrylates/C10-C30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, tea-carbomer, propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, propylparaben, methylparaben, disodium edta, may contain FD&C yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, red 3

Levels 6 and 9 Ingredients List

Water, ethanol, glycerin, octyldodecanol, retinol, polysorbate 20, cucumber extract, butylene glycol, cetyl dimethicone copolyol, PEG-7 glyceryl cocoate, tocopheryl, acrylates/C10-C30 crosspolymer, tea-carbomer, propylene glycol, diazolidinyl urea, propylparaben, methylparaben, disodium edta, may contain FD&C yellow 5, red 40, blue 1, red 3.

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  • Janis Haley


  • Lisa

    I, too am concerned about the ethanol in this product. I’ve been using level 6 for 2 years and the minute the weather turns colder, my skin starts to react by getting drier and flakier. I’d hoped to move to level 9 by now, but wonder if the alcohol in this is making my skin too dry to ever progress further. (I use a pea size amount every night.) So, if you can shed some light on the issue I would be so grateful. Thanks!!

  • Hi Rhonda,

    I would say, in general, that over-the-counter retinoids are usually weaker than the prescription strength variety. For instance, Skinceuticals 0.5 is 0.5% retinol, whereas prescription Retin-A is 0.025% tretinoin, which is stronger. Of course, this is more complex, but I think you get the general idea.

    As far as parabens go, I have a post here:

    As far as sponsors go, I WILL NOT ACCEPT PAYMENT TO ENDORSE A PRODUCT I DO NOT LIKE. I try to remain as unbiased as I can when I review products. Sponsors generally have a product for review, and I will tell them if I would give it a beneficial rating or not before agreeing to review officially.

    Hope this helps!

  • rhonda

    Dear Nicki,
    You do not compare Green Cream to prescription retinoids, such as Renova. How would you compare them? Also I would like to know how you feel about parabens, which have been linked to cancer. And finally, do you received funding from products you endorse?
    thank you so much.

  • Brenda

    Read your rave reviews about Green Cream 3, 6 and 9 …. aren’t you at all concerned about the fact that the most plentiful ingredient (after water) is ETHANOL?????
    According to Paula Begoun ” … the alcohols to be concerned about in skin care products are ethanol …. which not only can be extremely drying and irritating to skin, but also can generate free radical damage. When these ingredients are at the top of an ingredient list it is problematic for all skin types…” I have noticed that many users of retinol complain about stinging, dryness and redness when first using this product; they attribute these reactions to the retinol. I have often wondered if perhaps it is the alcohol causing these negative skin reactions. Would be interested in hearing your response to the use of alcohol in retinol products.

  • Danielle

    I know you love this stuff. Do you recommend it over Differin?

  • Boetinger

    based on your review, nicki, I just ordered samples of the green cream 3 and 6 from cosmeticsville.com, love the 3, looking forward to trying the 6.

  • juhee

    hi, thanks for your site. very informative. i recently ordered the green cream level 6. can i put it around my eyes where i put my eye cream on?

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