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Why Beauty Brands Are Banking on Retinols

A new crop of brands is banking on retinol's universal benefits to catch swaths of consumers.


Dr Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic
Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic. Photo courtesy of Dr. Dennis Gross


Dr. Dennis Gross Advanced Retinol + Ferulic Range

Available at Sephora and Prices range from $69 to $85.

Retinol’s clinical origins and universal applications may make it ideal for any skin care brand, but for Dr. Dennis Gross, the advancements in other ingredients made it an ideal ingredient to reformulate around.

“There are so many benefits to retinol, if used properly,” said Carrie Gross, chief executive officer of Dr. Dennis Gross. “We took these new botanicals and reinvented our retinol category, and have presented it to our clients for all age stages.”

The brand’s new Advanced Retinol + Ferulic range, which includes a peel pad, an eye serum, a day serum and a night serum, is one of its key pillars due to its suitability for people of all ages.

“We’re not just coming out with one retinol for every skin or for every age. We came out with a full line that can be calibrated to work together in a customized regimen to help with all concerns,” said Michele Snyder, senior vice president of international marketing at Dr. Dennis Gross. “We’ve created a campaign that really guides the client, and we have models who are in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.”

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Industry sources expect the range to bring in $7 million at retail just for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Skin Proud Recharge Serum
Skin Proud Recharge Serum. Photo courtesy of Skin Proud

Skin Proud Recharge Serum

Available at and Walmart for $13.75.

Among the burgeoning set of Gen Z brands going into Walmart, the U.K.-based Skin Proud is hoping to dial back on potentially irritating active ingredients to provide optimal results.

“We’ve seen the Gen Z consumer be so educated in skin care, but consumers are buying high-concentration formulas,” said Nora Zukauskaite, marketing director of Skin Proud. “More and more, consumers are having sensitive skin, so our retinol is at quite a gentle level.”

To that end, the brand created its overnight Recharge Serum, with 0.5 percent retinyl palmitate — a gentler form of retinol — to prevent irritation. “We talk about problems that are relevant to our audience, such as acne-prone skin, but it’s a gentle version of retinol and it shouldn’t irritate the skin as much as other retinoids,” Zukauskaite said.

The brand is hoping to back up its claims with other appeals to authority, such as influencer deals with dermatologists on TikTok, as well as other beauty creators. Industry sources expect retail sales for the serum to reach $12 million for its first year on the market.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Moisturizer
StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Moisturizer. Photo courtesy of StriVectin.

StriVectin Advanced Retinol Nightly Renewal Moisturizer

Available at, Sephora and department stores. Prices range from $79 to $119.

Fresh on the heels of its acquisition by Crown Laboratories, StriVectin is hoping to keep up momentum with the launch of a new retinol moisturizer.

Alison Yeh, chief marketing officer, said the brand’s seen an explosion in searches for the ingredient, which are up 29 percent in the U.S. and 39 percent in the U.K. “People are researching it — you can see from search trends,” Yeh said.

Part of StriVectin’s go-to-market strategy includes easing consumers’ minds over retinol’s notorious side effects. “We wanted to turn that on its head and dispense with a lot of those fears,” Yeh said. “We’ve been researching retinol for over 15 years.”

Yeh added that while StriVectin’s 2010 collection with the ingredient performed well, the new formula’s anti-inflammatory properties would make it a winner both in terms of consumer approval and clinical trials. “We saw 100 percent of trial participants say their skin did not look or feel irritated,” she said.

Although the brand didn’t comment on sales, industry sources expect the moisturizer to reach a sales volume of $10 million at retail for its first year on the market.

Boscia 0.6% Pro-Retinol Repair + Renew Waterless Advanced Treatment
Boscia 0.6% Pro-Retinol Repair + Renew Waterless Advanced Treatment. Photo courtesy of Boscia

Boscia 0.6% Pro-Retinol Repair + Renew Waterless Advanced Treatment

Available on and at Ulta Beauty for $48.

For Lan Belinky, cocreator of skin care brand Boscia, the decision to launch a retinol stemmed from personal need. “I wanted to launch just because as we get older, we need a little more love for our skin,” she said. “But it’s definitely something we have been hearing from our consumer.”

In exploring the product, Belinky’s challenge was formulating with a potent ingredient in a way meant for sensitive skin. To her, that’s the key point of differentiation. “We are gaining new customers who have an extremely sensitive skin type,” Belinky said. “The other client we’re getting is perhaps a little bit younger.”

Furthermore, Belinky had to dispel rumors of retinol’s irritating side effects. “What we really tried to do with this formula was demystify retinol. It can feel intimidating,” she said.

Her strategy seems to be working. “We are seeing new customers buying this for their skin problems, and this product has had momentum and the spotlight for us since launch,” she continued.

Belinky didn’t comment on sales, although industry sources expect the product to reach between $1 million and $3 million at retail in its first year on the market.

27 Rosiers Ma Crème
27 Rosiers Ma Crème. Photo courtesy of 27 Rosiers

27 Rosiers Ma Crème

Available at Credo Beauty for $59.

Hoping to leverage freshly gained consumer insights, 27 Rosiers is deepening its foothold in the U.S. market with a new moisturizer.

“Our consumer is a mix of Gen Z and younger Millennials — we want people who want to take care of their skin and are looking for an easy solution,” said Kevin Le Roux, founder of 27 Rosiers. “What they’re really looking for is healthy skin.”

Enter Ma Crème, a rich balm that combines different weights of hyaluronic acid with bakuchiol, a natural alternative to retinol. “Our consumer isn’t looking for cosmetics benefits — they’re looking for skin health benefits,” Le Roux said.

As far as distributing the cream, he said retail partnerships were still of utmost importance, as opposed to a d-to-c model. “From my time at L’Oréal, I learned that retail partnerships are actually the best way for a new brand to say that what we really mean is authentic,” he said.

Having gone in earlier this year to Bergdorf Goodman, Le Roux is now bringing Ma Crème to its original Stateside partner Credo Beauty. “What they do for clean beauty is visible to other retailers, too,” he said.

Industry sources expect retail sales to surpass $1 million for the cream’s first year on the market.

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