The 25+Up Showdown: The INKEY List Retinol Serum v. CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum




Retinol and sunscreen. The 25 and up folks need to listen up. Now, Black don’t crack but it might could fold without these in your skincare lineup. Retinol helps prevent aging, fine lines, and even post-acne scarring by increasing the cell turnover rate and preventing collagen breakdown. If you’re more interested in anti-aging before you start to show, you should start a retinol serum once you’re 25 years old. These two products below are great affordable choices for beginners in the anti-aging world of skincare.



TheINKEY List Retinol Serum


TheINKEY List was founded by Colette Laxton and Mark Curry in 2018. With The INKEY List, these founders aimed to help women make informed decisions with their skincare by delivering products based in quality, transparency, and a deep knowledge of skin. Shop The INKEY List for affordable products ranging from $10-15.



The Promise: To prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles for those aged 25 and up


Ingredient Breakdown:


Water (Aqua / Eau) for hydration

Glycerin for moisture retention

Butylene Glycol for conditioning and smoothening

Propanediol for ingredient absorption

Dicaprylyl Carbonate for skin conditioning and ingredient absorption

Dimethicone for moisture and barrier protection

Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer for stability and texture

Caprylyl Glycol for skin conditioning

Phospholipids for hydration and barrier maintenance

Caprylic/capric Glycerides to prevent hydration loss

Squalane to prevent hydration loss

Dimethyl Isosorbide to enhance active ingredient delivery

Glycine Soja (Soybean) Extract for skin conditioning

Carbomer for stability and consistency

Sodium Ascorbate for dark spots and uneven tone

Tocopherol to prevent cell damage

Polysorbate 60 for texture

Tocopheryl Acetate to prevent free radical damage and aging

Glycolipids to maintain skin cell membrane stability

Sodium Hydroxide for pH balance

Disodium Edta for preservation and stability

Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate to prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Retinol to prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterol for moisture and conditioning

Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate for conditioning

Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil for texture

Hyaluronic Acid for moisture

Polysorbate 20 for texture

Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7 to reduce inflammation

Palmitoyl Tripeptide-1 for collagen stimulation

Phenoxyethanol for preservation and stability




Skin Profile: Dry and sensitive skin (WOC)


Cost: $10


What we like most about it: Light creamy texture


What we would change? Slightly slower rate of absorption but this is mitigated with applying a peptide serum first.


Would we get it again? Absolutely!


Would it become a staple? Yep!


Fragrance level: Mild-Moderate


Color: Yellowish


Consistency: Thin cream, low viscosity


Does it rise to the promise? Yes


Is it worth the hype? Yes


Does the price match the quality? Yes


What about a dupe? You won’t need one.


Is this review sponsored? No.


Any tips? Follow up with a moisturizer. Only use at night to avoid photosensitivity. Don’t use with AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, or Vitamin C in the same time of the routine. Start with 1-2 times a week and work up to every night, for sensitive skin. You may need to prep with another serum first. (Received a slight burning sensation when used as the first serum and a fresh cleanse. Then none at all when preceded by Good Molecules Peptide Serum).


Overall rating: 7/10


CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum


This brand is a holy grail for sensitive, compromised skin founded by Tom Allison in 2005. Noticing that the underlying problem with most skin conditions was a compromised skin barrier, Allison created a line of products with ceramides that help maintain the skin barrier’s integrity. These ceramides are also found in the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum which is a gentle, non-comedogenic serum that decreases fine lines, and minimizes pores and post-acne hyperpigmentation.



The Promise: to prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles while maintaining a healthy skin barrier.


The Breakdown:


Aqua/water/eau for hydration

Propanediol for ingredient absorption

Dimethicone for moisture and barrier protection

Cetearyl ethylhexanoate for product texture

Niacinamide for keratin production and firmness

Ammonium polyacryloyldimethyl for stability and thickness

Dipotassium glycyrrhizate for sebum-regulation and anti-inflammation

Hydrogenated lecithin for skin conditioning

Potassium phosphate for pH balance

Ceramide NP for moisture and lipid barrier maintenance

Ceramide AP for moisture and lipid barrier maintenance

Ceramide EOP for moisture and lipid barrier maintenance

Carbomer for stability and consistency

Cetearyl alcohol for skin softening

Behentrimonium methosulfate for skin conditioning

Dimethiconol for hydration

Lecithin for skin softening

Sodium citrate for pH balance

Retinol to prevent and reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Sodium hyaluronate for moisture

Sodium lauroyl lactylate for thickening

Cholesterol for barrier protection

Phenoxyethanol for preservation

Alcohol for preservation

Isopropyl myristate for moisturizer

Caprylyl Glycol for skin conditioning

Citric acid for preservation

Trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate to enhance preservation system

Pentylene glycol for skin conditioning

Phytosphingosine for lipid barrier protection

Xanthan gum for thickening

Polysorbate 20 for texture

Ethylhexylglycerin for preservation and skin conditioning


Skin Profile: Dry and sensitive skin (WOC)


What we like most about it: Dry gel texture


What we would change? We would recreate with a slightly thinner, more liquid texture


Would we get it again? Possibly.


Would it become a staple? Unsure.


Fragrance level: None


Color: Opaque


Consistency: Thin gel with dry finish


Does it rise to the promise? Yes


Is it worth the hype? Yes


Does the price match the quality? Yes


What about a dupe? You won’t need one.


Is this review sponsored? No.


Any tips?

  • Only use at night to prevent photosensitivity during the day.

  • Don’t use with AHAs, BHAs, PHAs, or Vitamin C in the same part of your routine. (There’s not much research on the actual impact of retinol and exfoliants used together. Many retinol products on the market are actually formulated with exfoliants, like Shani Darden’s Retinol Reform which also has lactic acid. If you’re a beginner, ensure to separate them to learn how your skin responds to these actives. Then, you’ll be able to explore how your skin works with different actives together. But as a precaution for beginners, you should begin by keeping these actives separate to decrease chances of irritation).


Overall rating: 6/10


Poll: Based on this post, which retinol are you most likely to try?


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