close-up of a bottle with La Roche-Posay Retinol serum on a rose-gold fuzzy texture

As a skincare enthusiast with delicate skin prone to irritation, I'm always on the hunt for a powerful yet gentle retinol. Previously, I went through a bottle of the Anti-Aging Niacinamide and Retinol serum by Qrxlabs, which helped acclimate my skin to these ingredients. While it wasn't harsh on my skin, it left a sticky residue that I found unpleasant. Therefore, I kept searching for an alternative product.

So, when I heard about the La Roche-Posay Retinol and Vitamin B3 face serum, I couldn't resist giving it a try. This review shares my honest first impressions and early observations – is it the sensitive skin savior it claims to be?

About La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay is a French brand of skin care products owned by L'Oréal. It is known for its products for sensitive skin, and its thermal water, which is sourced from a spring in La Roche-Posay in France. The brand was founded back in 1975 by a French pharmacist, Mr. Rene Levayer. He created the “La Roche-Posay Laboratoire Dermatologique” brand, believing that thermal water can be used to treat various skin conditions.

La Roche-Posay products are formulated with hypoallergenic ingredients and are clinically tested on sensitive skin. The brand is popular among dermatologists and is recommended by over 90,000 dermatologists worldwide.

  • Packaging

The La Roche-Posay Retinol and Vitamin B3 Serum comes in a 30ml blue glass bottle with a dropper applicator. The bottle is housed in a blue cardboard box with silver lettering. The box includes information about the product, such as the ingredients, benefits, and how to use it. Plus, it is made from recycled materials, which is always an advantage!

  • Texture & Scent

The texture of this retinol serum is creamy and runny, it looks a bit like milk for the skin with a yellowish tint to it. The serum has a slightly medical scent to it, which I'm not a fan of, but it is fine. It feels like you are actually treating your skin, but you are using cosmetics that smell like this! 

Once applied to the skin, texture absorbs quickly, without leaving any unpleasant greasiness on the surface. Retinol serums can be drying to the skin. La Roche-Posay serum is mixed with soybean oil, which lightly moisturizes the skin. However, my skin still needs more moisture, after I apply this retinol serum to it.

close-up of a bottle with La Roche-Posay Retinol serum on a rose-gold fuzzy texture

  • Ingredients

Now it is time to take a closer look at the ingredients. First and foremost, La Roche-Posay retinol serum is based on the iconic thermal spring water, used in many of La Roche-Posay's products. Thermal water has a balancing action on the skin, hydrates it, and restores UV damage. 

The formula is infused with Niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B), which is one of the best skincare ingredients for dull and uneven skin! It can strengthen the skin's natural barrier,  in addition to soothing and calming qualities of this skin wonder.

And, of course, 0.3% retinol (Vitamin A) is the star ingredient in the formula. 0.3% retinol refers to the concentration of retinol, a form of vitamin A, in a skincare product. This concentration falls within the low to moderate range commonly found in over-the-counter retinol products. Retinol is known for its ability to boost collagen production, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and improve skin tone and texture. 

Because it's a lower concentration, 0.3% retinol is often considered a good starting point for people new to retinol or those with sensitive skin. It's less likely to cause irritation or dryness compared to higher concentrations of this potent anti-aging ingredient.

And, finally, let me add a few words about Adenosine – a soothing plant extract, derived from yeast. It has a soft, skin-restoring agent proven to have anti-wrinkle benefits for the skin. For the full list of all the ingredients in La Roche-Posay Retinol serum visit the official website.

close-up of a bottle with La Roche-Posay Retinol serum on a rose-gold fuzzy texture

How to Use Retinol Serum?

Using a retinol serum requires careful application to maximize its benefits and minimize potential side effects. Retinol, a form of vitamin A, is known for its anti-aging properties and ability to promote skin renewal. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use a retinol serum:

  • Patch Test:

Before applying the retinol serum to your entire face, it's advisable to do a patch test. Apply a small amount of the serum to a discreet area (like behind your ear) and wait 24 hours to check for any adverse reactions.

  • Start with Clean Skin:

Begin with a clean and dry face. Dispense a small amount of retinol serum, typically a pea-sized drop, onto your fingertips. This is usually enough to cover your entire face. Using more than needed can increase the risk of irritation. Ensure that your face is completely dry before applying the retinol serum. Applying it to damp skin can increase the risk of irritation.

  • Start with a Low Frequency:

If you're new to retinol, use it 2-3 times a week to allow your skin to acclimate. Over time, you can gradually increase the frequency based on your skin's tolerance.

  • Evenly Distribute:

Gently massage the retinol serum onto your face using upward and outward motions. Pay attention to areas where you may have concerns about fine lines or wrinkles. Avoid applying retinol too close to the eyes and mouth, as these areas are more sensitive. If you want to address issues in these areas, consider using a separate eye cream.

After the retinol serum has been absorbed into your skin (usually after a few minutes), apply a moisturizer to help lock in hydration. This can also help minimize dryness or peeling associated with retinol use.

  • Use Sunscreen in the Morning:

Retinol can make the skin more photo-sensitive. So, it is best to always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 in the morning, even on cloudy days, and even if you don't plan to sunbathe. This helps protect your skin and prevents further irritation.

Final Verdict

Certainly, to see any visual results on your skin you have to be using retinol serum for months if not for years! I've been using La Roche-Posay's face serum five times a week on my face and neck for a while now, and I'm really happy with the progress. My forehead area, in particular, shows improvement. While the wrinkles weren't deeply etched, they definitely appear smoother now. 

What makes this serum stand out of the crowd is the trio of beneficial anti-aging ingredients fused together: retinol, niacinamide, and adenosine. In addition, the gentle action of this serum and its more affordable price (compared to high-end skincare brands) make it more approachable. 

To be honest, I view this serum as a long-term investment in my skin health, rather than a quick fix for aging concerns. So, you can bet I'll be keeping it in my routine for as long as possible! However, if you're looking for a higher concentration of retinol in your daily skincare, you might want to consider a different serum.