I've been using this $26 anti-aging retinol serum for a month — and my skin has never looked better

·5 min read

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CeraVe's Renewing Serum has been a skincare game-changer. (Image via Getty Images)
CeraVe's Renewing Serum has been a skincare game-changer. (Image via Getty Images)

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 I've always tried to manage my expectations when it comes to skincare and skincare products. I've been drawn to expensive moisturizers and serums, toners and exfoliators that made promises they couldn't keep to turn back the hands of time and transform my skin. After spending hundreds (maybe even thousands) on skincare products that did little to change the look and feel of my skin, I decided enough was enough, and have since taken to using affordable and dermatologist-approved products from drugstore brands.

One of my favourite products that has completely changed the look of my skin is CeraVe's Skin Renewing Cream Serum with retinol. 

CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum

CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum - Amazon
CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum - Amazon

SHOP IT: Amazon, $26

What is it?

CeraVe's Skin Renewing Cream Serum helps reduce and prevent visible signs of aging using super-ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The gentle serum can be applied once or twice daily, and worn under makeup to help improve your skin's moisture barrier, resulting in more youthful, firmer looking skin.

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Retinol is a pretty powerful skincare ingredient that can negatively impact your skin if used the wrong way. Too much retinol too soon can cause your skin to dry out and peel — which can be painful and embarrassing. 

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Products with retinol can help revitalize dull looking skin, prevent our pores from clogging to prevent and treat breakouts, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and of course, minimize and prevent fine lines and wrinkles. 

First impressions

I bought the CeraVe Skin Renewing Cream Serum a month ago as a way to kick my skincare routine up a notch ahead of my upcoming wedding. Although I do visit a dermatologist regularly for injectables, there are still fine lines around my eyes that bother me, along with some discolouration that make me feel insecure whenever I go makeup-free. 

Adopting the motto "low and slow," I decided to use incorporate the serum into my nightly skincare routine every two days. Although I've dabbled in the world of retinol before, I was weary to repeat my same experience of drying out my skin by using the retinol cream daily.  

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After two weeks, I began noticing that my skin tone was looking a bit more even and wasn't experiencing any dryness. I now use the serum every other day after cleansing my skin with CeraVe's Hydrating Cleanser (no, they aren't sponsoring me - I just love their stuff!) by dabbing little dots on my problem areas and then gently smoothing the serum into my skin until it had absorbed. After the retinol serum, I apply an Honest Beauty moisturizer and finish with a little bit of Neutrogena Hydro Boost eye cream

Honest Beauty Deep Hydrating Moisturizer

My favourite nighttime moisturizer to use is the Deep Hydration Face Cream by Honest Beauty.
My favourite nighttime moisturizer to use is the Deep Hydration Face Cream by Honest Beauty.

SHOP IT: Honest Beauty, $28

It's been a month of using the CeraVe serum and I've noticed a major improvement in the texture and overall appearance of my skin. It's much smoother and looks brighter when I'm not wearing makeup. I'm not going completely makeup free yet, but I don't feel as self conscious with the discolouration as I used to. 

What people are saying 

Amazon Canada customers have given CeraVe's Skin Renewing Cream Serum a 4.4-star rating based on more than 500 customer reviews. I found these reviews incredibly helpful before I decided to order the serum for myself, and followed shoppers advice by switching from a daily SPF 30 to a daily SPF 50 since retinol makes your skin extra sensitive to sunlight. 

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"I got this as a starter retinol to freshen up my face and I highly recommend it," one Amazon shopper wrote. "Within a week this noticeably changed the way my skin looked and took away subtle redness that I thought was always going to be there. I literally thought parts of my face were always going to be pink and was fine with it but this smoothed out my discolouration a lot. I don't know how potent the retinol is but I have used it every night since I got it. I have very dry skin to begin with and since this is retinol it does dry the skin out and I noticed that. After I use it I layer moisturizer on top to replenish my dry skin. I highly recommend this and a good moisturizer and face oil to use on top of it and the day following. This product will make your face very vulnerable to the sun so wear SPF."

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Eye Cream

I finish my skincare routine by applying Neutrogena Hydro Boost gel cream under my eyes (Image via Amazon).
I finish my skincare routine by applying Neutrogena Hydro Boost gel cream under my eyes (Image via Amazon).

SHOP IT: Amazon, $17 (originally $18)

"This stuff is amazing! I have only used it for about two weeks or so now but wow, I can already see a difference. I have the most sensitive acne prone skin," another reviewer wrote. "Everything - and I mean everything - makes me either break out, gives me a rash, makes me super sensitive and red. This did dry out my forehead a tad but no bad reactions, no break outs! My skin looks and feels softer and smoother. How is this possible after only two weeks?! I love it. Somehow my skin also looks more plump and soft. Highly recommend."

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Although a majority of CeraVe's skincare reviews are positive, there are reviews from customers who say their skin became dry while some experienced breakouts. 

"This is a really amazing cream for reducing fine lines but it causes one side of my face (not the other, I don't know why) to breakout," an Amazon shopper advised. "Seriously this cream is so miraculous I still use it everywhere on my face that I can tolerate it."


I can't say (or write) enough good things about my experience with CeraVe's Skin Renewing Cream Serum. It's been a welcomed addition to my skincare routine, but I will eventually go back to using the serum only twice a week, since it's very easy to over-do it with retinol products. 

If you're looking to dip your toe into the wold of retinol serums, this is a great way to start since it's only $26. If you have very sensitive skin, I would definitely recommend visiting a dermatologist to find a skincare routine that works best for you to prevent breakouts or peeling. 

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.

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