What is the Best Retinol Body Cream?

Personal/Inspirational, Skin Care


Submitted via the FutureDerm.com Facebook page:

Hi Nicki,

Got any recommendations for Retinol Body Creams? I’ve used Green Cream (which you recommended) on my face with great improvement on my skin tone (thank you!) and now I’d like to use it on the rest of my body. However, buying bottles of Green Cream to use all over my body would kill my wallet! Hoping you have some advice. Thanks!


Dear Erika,

You’re absolutely right for wanting to use retinoids on your body.  As renowned dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, M.D. once said, “We have beautiful, profound data that shows if you use [retinoids] for 20 years, you’re going to look a lot better than someone who doesn’t.”  When applied after (not before) UV exposure, retinoids also help to prevent collagen loss.  Retinoids have been proven to stimulate matrix metalloproteinase genes, which are in part responsible for collagen degradation, and to increase cell turnover rates (Cosmetic Dermatology).  In essence, retinoids smooth the skin, refine the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and make skin more firm over time.

What About Overdosing?

Carrots are a source of beta-carotene, which contributes to vitamin A levels within the body.

Although overdose is possible with topical vitamin A, studies have shown that most overdoses are through either full-strength prescription tretinoin or supplementation (Principles of Toxicology).  Still, most physicians still advise pregnant and/or nursing women to avoid excess vitamin A exposure from cosmetics and skin care to be on the safe side.

Which Form of Vitamin A is Best?

Both retinol and retinyl palmitate body creams are available, but I prefer those that contain retinol.  Within the skin, there is evidence that retinol undergoes an esterification process to become active as retinoic acid, while retinyl palmitate must first be enzymatically cleaved to retinol, then converted to retinoic acid.  Retinol is therefore about 20 times stronger than retinyl palmitate, but still 20 times weaker than prescription tretinoin (Clinics in Dermatology, 2001), so it’s my personal favorite when it comes to ingredients in body creams.

What is the Best Retinol Body Cream?

The best retinol body cream I know of is Dr. Jeannette Graf Rejuvenation Body Cream ($19.99, Amazon.com).  In addition to retinol, this cream features a high concentration of a number of potent hydrators, including olive oil, cetyl alcohol, stearate, and triglycerides.  Propylene glycol helps the other ingredients absorb more readily into the skin.  While I normally do not recommend creams that contain both vitamin C and retinol, as the activity of each is optimized at a different pH, the open nature of the jar means that vitamin C (as L-ascorbic acid) won’t be stable for very long anyway!  With that said, retinol is actually not stable for more than one month after it is open and exposed to the air either (source), so be sure to use your jar of Dr. Jeannette Graf Rejuvenation Body Cream within a month after opening!

Bottom Line

Retinoids are currently the gold standard when it comes to anti-aging.  While prescription tretinoin and 0.5% retinol (and higher) treatments are too pricey for many to use all over the body, there are far cheaper alternatives, such as Dr. Jeannette Graf Rejuvenation Body Cream, which I estimate to have approximately 0.025% retinol – still enough to be effective.  When using retinol, keep in mind that pregnant and nursing women should abstain in order to be on the safe side, as they are also exposed to vitamin A through many foods and vitamin supplements.  It is also best to use retinol at night, as initial use can make skin more sensitive to the sun.  Finally, as I said before, use the entire jar within a month of opening, as retinol is unstable once it is exposed to air.  At any rate, let me know how this works out for you!
Hope this helps,

Rejuvenation Retinol Body Creme Ingredients: Water, Olea Europaea (Olive) Oil, Methyl Gluceth-20, Cetyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearic Acid, Peg-100 Stearate, Ascorbic Acid, Tocopherol, Dimethicone, Hamamelis Virginiana (Witch Hazel), Pantothenic Acid, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Extract, Propylene Glycol, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Extract, Arachis Hypogaea (Peanut) Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Extract, Isopropyl Myristate, Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Keratin Amino Acids, Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Wheat Amino Acids, Keratin, Retinol, Althea Officinalis (Marshmallow) Extract, Hedera Helix (Ivy) Extract, Anacyclus Pyrethrum Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Extract, Arnica Montana Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Extract, Yeast Extract, Polyquaternium 10, EDTA, BHT, Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Citric Acid, Fragrance.

Looking for the best skin care? FutureDerm is committed to having its customers find — and create — the best skin care for their individual skin type, concern, and based on your ingredient preferences. Learn more by visiting the FutureDerm shop!

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  • Renee

    What can you recommend that does not contain parabens? Thanks

  • Alysse


    This sounds like a great product i’ve actually never heard of . so i’m going to be looking online to purchase now as well!

    I do have a question about Glycolic acid body creams and the best ones? and also what is the optimum PH level for Glycolic body lotions?

    My goal is to get rid of the remnants of my summer tan to even out my skintone — my suntan tends to be persistent, but it’s not everywhere so my arms are darker than my chest, face and hands.

    I was thinking of Alyrua Body resurfacing lotion or Glytone

    Thanks for any help you can give!

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