CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum Review



If you’re trying to prevent or reduce signs of skin aging, then you’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to add retinol into your skincare routine. 

Retinol is one of the best skincare ingredients for softening and preventing fine lines and wrinkles, reducing pore size and acne, encouraging collagen production, lessening the appearance of dark spots, increasing cell turnover, and improving skin texture — pretty incredible, right?


1Carrot & Stick Review
-Cerave Skin Renewing Retinol Serum


There’s tons of different retinol serums, creams, and lotions on the market, but in this review we’ll focus on CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum is an anti-aging serum that’s formulated to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, skin texture, and radiance. 

But is CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum right for you? To help you decide, we’ll give you all the details on the key ingredients in this formula, as well as the research that supports (or doesn’t support) their use in skin care.

We’ll also share some CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum reviews so that you can get an idea of what customers really think of this product.

Is CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum Right For You?

Before we get into the details, here’s the TL;DR if you just want to know whether or not CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum is right for you.

  • Key ingredients? Encapsulated Retinol
  • Skin type? All skin types
  • Texture? Lightweight serum
  • Fragrance? No
  • Cruelty free? No
  • Cost? Depends on where you purchase; $16.99 USD on, $18.99 USD on

What Are The Key Ingredients in CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum?

In order to determine how well CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum performs, we’ll have to evaluate the key ingredients in this formula. Let’s get started.

Encapsulated Retinol
There’s many different retinoids that can be used in skin care products — like retinol, retinaldehyde, and retinyl palmitate, just to name a few —  but CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum contains encapsulated retinol. 

Encapsulated retinol is simply retinol that has been housed in a delivery system to protect its integrity and improve its ability to penetrate into the skin effectively. This is important because retinol is extremely sensitive to light and air.

When applied to the skin, retinol is clinically proven to provide numerous benefits to the skin.

According to a publication in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, retinol can minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone, restore skin firmness, and shrink the appearance of enlarged pores.

Retinol provides all of these benefits by first being converted to retinoic acid (its active form) after being absorbed into the skin.

Retinoic acid works deep within the skin where it boosts collagen synthesis, increases elasticity, and repairs connective tissue. It also increases cellular turnover, which helps to prevent clogged pores and also promotes smoother, healthier skin. 

The next key ingredient that you’ll find in CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum is niacinamide  — the amide form of vitamin B3 (niacin) — another ingredient that provides many benefits to the skin.

For instance, a publication in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, states that niacinamide can repair the skin barrier and improve skin moisture, as well as reduce inflammation, blotchiness, hyperpigmentation, acne, and wrinkling.

Niacinamide is a true multi-tasker that provides many benefits, and it’s great that the CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum contains a decent amount of this ingredient. 

All CeraVe products, including CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum, include ceramides as key ingredients.

Ceramides are a family of waxy lipid molecules that are naturally produced by the skin and are vital in supporting the stratum corneum.

The stratum corneum is the outer layer of skin, which can be thought of as a “brick and mortar” system. The bricks are the corneocytes (dead skin cells) and the intercellular lipids (ceramides) represent the mortar.

Without ceramides, the skin barrier is weakened, just like without mortar a brick wall would be weak and unstable.

The result is skin that can easily become dry, itchy, or irritated. A properly functioning stratum corneum is essential for healthy skin as it maintains epidermal hydration and serves as a barrier that responds to environmental stressors, infections, irritants, and allergens. 

Topical application of ceramides can help to replenish ceramide levels, thus restoring the skin’s natural barrier. 

How to Use CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum?

Apply CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum in small dots where needed around the face, then gently smooth until thoroughly absorbed. You can use this serum alone or under makeup once or twice a day. 

Where to Buy CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum?

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum and other CeraVe skin care products are not sold on the brand’s website. You must buy CeraVe skin care products on third party online retailers, such as Amazon, eBay, Ulta, and more.

CeraVe skin care products are also sold in physical retail locations throughout the United States, such as Walmart, Target, Walgreens, etc. CeraVe has a store locator on their website so you can find a location near you. 

How Much is CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum?

The cost of CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum will depend on where you purchase the product. For example, this serum costs $16.99 USD on and $18.99 on

What is The CeraVe Return Policy?

CeraVe does not have a return policy on their website since they do not sell products on their website and, therefore, don’t accept returns. 

Is CeraVe Cruelty-Free?

CeraVe is not cruelty-free. CeraVe is owned by L’Oréal, a company that tests on animals. L’Oréal does not conduct animal testing on their products or ingredients, nor ask others to test on our behalf, except when required by law. Since L’Oréal products are sold in China, they must test their products on animals by law.

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum Reviews

CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum reviews on the brand’s website are overall very positive, but there aren’t very many customer reviews, so we went over to to evaluate the reviews.

On Amazon, CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum has received an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars after nearly 10,000 customer reviews. 

There are many 5-star reviews for CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum from customers who love that it helps to reduce signs of aging with little to no irritation. 

For example, one review says, “This is the first retinol lotion I’ve used that hasn’t caused major skin irritation. I love it and wish I had tried it sooner instead of wasting my money on expensive products. Seriously, Cerave just works and it won’t break the bank. I love this in combination with their night cream because I have very dry skin and live in a cold dry climate much of the year. I also like that this product is light/thin, like a serum, so it layers well with good coverage.”

And another 5-star review says, “I’m 63. Using on chest wrinkles. This stuff does work! I’m ordering another bottle. I think it’s helped frown lines between eyebrows too. But definitely making chest lines better. Best thing I’ve tried.”

However, there are a handful of negative reviews for the CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum. Most of the negative reviews are from customers who experienced side effects (dryness, flaking, rashse, irritation, etc.). 

But there’s also quite a few CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum reviews from customers who were disappointed to see little to no results from this serum. 

For example, one review says, “I have used several retinol serums. This serum is not my favorite. I love the CeraVE line overall, but this product does not live up to the brand’s quality. The consistency is greasy and it doesn’t absorb well leaving a sticky layer on your face. It feels and looks like mucus. I used this serum for several months and saw minimal results. It’s rare I get a reaction from skincare products. However, I woke up several mornings with blemishes on my face since using it.”

A similar 1-star review says, “I’m 26 and have noticed a fine smile line appearing on just one side of my mouth. I’ve been using this for two months now, every morning and night and haven’t missed an application. This product hasn’t done a thing to reduce the look of my little line– maybe it’s my imagination but I swear the line is more defined. Most retinol products cause dryness and flaking and while this does not, I’m convinced there’s not enough retinol in here to do anything. I like Cerave products in general but this is a complete waste of money and it isn’t cheap!”

Our Verdict

Overall, we think that CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum is a well-formulated, budget-friendly retinol serum that should help to prevent and reduce signs of aging.


  • Beneficial key ingredients (encapsulated retinol, niacinamide, ceramides)
  • Many positive CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum reviews
  • Fragrance-free


  • CeraVe is not cruelty free
  • Some CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum reviews mention seeing little to no results

What Are Some Alternatives to  CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Serum?

If you’re looking for skin care products to address the signs of aging, one brand we recommend is Formulyst. Formulyst maximizes the use of powerful ingredients and minimizes the use of superficial ones, resulting in clinically advanced skin care solutions that help promote healthy, more youthful-looking skin.

One Formulyst product we love is the Double Defence Serum. What’s unique about this serum is that it contains a form of retinol (hydroxypinacolone retinoate) that provides the same benefits of retinol, but without the irritation.

 Double Defence Serum also contains many other beneficial ingredients, including caffeine, squalane, alpha-arbutin, an innovative vitamin C derivative, and more. Overall, this Formulyst serum can help to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, leaving your skin visually smoother, firmer, and more even.

Another brand that balances the power of plants with cutting edge science is Carrot & Stick. Not only is Carrot & Stick good for your skin, it is also good for the environment as the formulas skip harmful chemicals commonly found in skincare products.

Clin Interv Aging. 2006 Dec; 1(4): 327–348.
J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Feb; 3(2): 22–41



Carrot & Stick

Carrot & Stick takes a tough love approach to skincare. What does this mean? It perfectly balances the power of plants with innovative science, offering the best of both worlds. Read More


The philosophy of Formulyst is long-term and effective skincare, rather than covering up any imperfections. The comprehensive line of products tackles everything from wrinkles to dark spots and dry skin. While some brands rely on unnecessary fillers and scents, Formulyst focuses on ingredients that help create results, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Read More

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