Created in partnership with Olay.
There are two things you’ll hear me say a lot here. First, that retinol is the best thing (besides SPF) that you can do for your skin to fight the signs of aging. Second, that if you want skincare that is affordable and high-tech, Olay is where you should look.
You might remember that last year, Olay asked me to review their Retinol24 line. I was really, really impressed with the products and how effective they are, especially at that drugstore price point. You can read my full review but what impressed me most about that line was that the products were so effective, without any irritation! Well this year, they have gone and launched their brand new Retinol24 MAX line, which has 20% more of Olay’s proprietary Retinoid Complex. I don’t want to spoil my review but can say with full confidence that Olay Retinol24 MAX is the best retinol cream on the market at this price point.
Olay Retinol24 MAX Moisturizer Review
The formula is very similar to the original product – it’s just more powerful. At first blush, it would be hard to tell a difference between the two. It’s fragrance-free, cruelty-free, super hydrating, and sinks in immediately. The formula contains Vitamin B3 and Olay’s unique Retinoid Complex which includes two types of retinoids: retinol and retinyl propionate.
I also want to touch on the jar format and product stability, as I got a bunch of questions (for good reason!) last time… I hadn’t ever seen a retinol cream in jar form either so was also curious. Olay did quite a bit of research before launching this product and had the understanding that most of their consumers prefer facial moisturizers (and eye cream) to come in jars, so they invested a lot of research into coming up with a formulation that would keep the retinol stable and potent without special air-tight packaging. They have developed a unique micro-droplet oil-in-water emulsion that keeps the retinol blend stable even in jar packaging.
Olay’s Retinol24 formula now comes in MAX form with 20% more of Olay’s unique Retinoid Complex*. 34% of women currently using a retinol product want their skincare products to be powerful, with maximum potency. Olay packed these fragrance-free formulas with Retinol24’s maximum concentration of hydrators to leave your skin feeling hydrated and replenished.
My Experience Using Olay Retinol24 MAX:
First of all, as always, some context. I am 39 years old with dry skin. I am lucky that my skin is pretty well-behaved. But it is definitely starting to show the signs of aging: fine lines, dullness, the occasional rough patch.
I started using this moisturizer on October 9th. I submitted my review to the brand on November 11th, so I had a full month to test it. Then I started out using it every single night but it’s very potent (I definitely felt that it was more intense – in a good way – than the original Retinol24 cream!) Every other night was the sweet spot. I was already an avid retinol user so my skin is used to it but if you are new to retinol I’d definitely recommend starting with 2x a week and working up.
How to use retinol
This is a retinol night cream. I would not recommend using it (or any other retinol product) for daytime. I like to apply it before bedtime. After cleansing and toning, I would apply a generous amount of the cream to my skin. I let it sink in for at least 10 minutes or so. Most nights I didn’t feel like I needed any extra moisturizer (this one is really hydrating) but if my skin was feeling dry I’d pat on face oil over it.
Retinol Benefits – Short Term
In the short term, I felt like my skin was SO soft and hydrated, and immediately brighter and smoother the next day. The cream provides 24 hours of hydration so no waking up with dry, tight skin (this happens to me with some retinols).
The brightness was really really noticeable – I’d wake up glowing! I loved that it wasn’t irritating, too.
Retinol Benefits – Long Term
In the longer term, the formula will visibly smooth wrinkles and fine lines and even out skin tone. Over the month, my skin tone really evened out and fine lines were less noticeable as well.
I have said this before: retinol is not Botox; you won’t see this immediate elimination in fine lines but you will see a softening. Besides the blur in fine lines, my skin was noticeably smoother overall. This is one of the best retinol creams I have tried. I can honestly say that this is the best retinol moisturizer I’ve ever tried at this price point. It’s comparable with most of the more expensive ones I have tried over the years, and I really love the new MAX formula.
What is Retinol?
Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative! When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, Retinol is hands down the star ingredient you want to look for. It works by simultaneously increasing collagen production and accelerating skin renewal.
What does Retinol Do for the Skin?
So what does retinol do??? Using retinol for skin (a moisturizer, or other retinol products like a serum) a few times a week can help accelerate skin renewal, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots; it will refine the skin’s texture, and even out your skin tone.
photography by Allie Provost.
I wonder who Olay polled that said they prefer their moisturizer in jars, because it certainly wasn’t me! The fact that it is in a jar is actually a huge deterrent for me. To each their own! Maybe I’ll pick up a little spatula to use because I had been wanting to try it, and your review nearly sealed the deal.
I have to tell you, I completely agree!!!!! I much prefer a pump, but another reader mentioned she likes the jar because of fearing product waste (which I totally get). I do know that Olay researches the hell out of everything they do so I believe them, but I’m with you: if they offered it in a pump I would have chosen that!
I am also surprised people prefer the jar. I can use how for value, people can get every last bit out of a jar, but I still prefer a pump.
I have used olay pumps in the past and really feel it either pumped too much or left some un-used product in the conrainer. I like the ability to control how much cream I use and see and have acess to every drop. I also want to see that the quality is cobsistent with each use as i have used other pumps and there is often inconsistency in the product coming out (runny or watery at times) I am certainly glad it is in a jar and they found how to stabilize it. Love the results of this and feel it gives great moisture but without the oiliness for my acne prone skin.
So happy to have your stamp of approval on this product as a poor law student who needs some good winter skincare! ♥️
YAY! Yes – this is 100% grace atwood approved, ha!
I ordered this after you posted on Instagram about trying it, because you were glowing in those videos! I am super impressed. I’ve been using it almost every night, and my skin has been loving it. This is my first retinol, and was a little afraid since my skin can be a little finicky, but it hasn’t caused any irritation or negative side effects (I use glow screen every day and wear a hat like 99% of the time when I am outside so I don’t know if that might factor into it). It definitely helps fade little lines (I’ve lost 40 pounds this year and could see smile lines coming in before I started using this) and evens texture/tone. Thanks for sharing!!
That makes me so happy to hear! Thank you so much for sharing your experience, I really appreciate it!
I have had such a horrible reaction to this product , my face feels dry and tight like I have had a horrible sunburn .
I’ve been so interested in Olay’s retinols, but waiting for your review! I’m usually hesitant to try non-medical grade products like this but I might give this one a try, especially since you found it so moisturizing because the dry winter skin is real. Love that it’s in a jar too – probably all in my head, but I find that you waste so much product with a pump!
The conversation around jars and pumps is so interesting to me, that is a really good point!!!!
I love the olay retinol eye cream. I think I’ll try this out now. For the price, I find Olay’s retinol products to be really effective. I love your honest reviews!
Thanks Stacey, and I agree! Absolute best retinol for the price!!!
Will definitely give this a try! You influenced me to start using their retinol serum, so I’m sure I’ll love this one too!
Dana | It’s Casual Blog
Oh you will love!!
Hey Grace! Thanks for the review! Do you use these creams on nights when you are using other acids?
Hi! I talked more about that in this post. https://thestripe.com/my-fall-early-winter-skincare-routine/
For the testing process I only used this at night. At first I did every night then I scaled back to every other night! So no acids this month as I wanted to get a really good picture on how effective the cream is.
For a regular skincare routine I would follow the routine I outlined in that blog post, using this as the retinol product!
Truly, thank you for this review – not just what you thought, but all of the important details: what it is, how it works, how you use it, your own skin and personal info, why they chose a jar & what that meant for product stability, etc. Being so in-depth and honest is the main reason I trust your skin care reviews. And I can’t wait to give this retinol a try!
I am so happy the review was helpful! xx
Sold! I will definitely be purchasing this. Thanks, as always, for doing the research!
Yay – hope you love!!!
I discovered your blog after finding your podcast and I loved episode where you were interviewed- I must have missed your age in that epsidoe (if you mentioned it) because I came away thinking you were max 31-32 (after seeing you on your blog this confirmed the number for me- and I just assume everyone is younger than me now, lol). You have outstanding skin- I am 38 and I dont think I look 1/2 as good as you. Thanks for another true product review- I have found many items I now enjoy from reading blog everyday!
That so kind! Thank you! And keep in mind – I post the photos where I look my best (i.e. good light!!!!) So happy you found me 🙂 xo
I was waiting for this, Grace. When I finish up my current retinol, I’m gonna take the plunge.
YAY – keep me posted on how you like it!
Hi Grace! Do you recommend the moisturizer over the serum, or could I use both together? I’ve been using the Olay retinol serum but have been wanting to get the moisturizer too!
Hi! I haven’t tried the new serum but when I tested the serum before I loved it!!!! You can def use together.
I had this same question! Using the retinol moisturizer over the serum or just one of them. Grace has definitely inspired me to take care of my skin more and I’m really trying to wisely invest in my skin as I finish up the backlog of random sample sizes/products that I have laying around!
You could absolutely do both. I personally am happy using just one!
I’m 31 and wanted to incorporate a retinol into my routine. I discovered Olay’s Retinol24 by you and was thrilled because it was a great price point and since I was new to the world of retinol wanted to try something without breaking the bank! I love this review and can’t wait to try the new Retinol24 Max. Thanks Grace!
YAY! Hope you love!!!
I have been wanting to try retinol and you have convinced me! Just ordered it—the whole Olay site is also 25% off today! Always love your reviews — thank you for your honestly and hard work on them!☺️
Oh yay! Hope you LOVE!
I just purchased the Olay retinol serum two weeks ago 100% because of your review of it. I’m so excited to incorporate it into my routine. Thank you for the thought you put into testing and your reviews1
Aw this makes me happy! Hope you love it!
Thanks for another thorough review, Grace! Question – I’ve been using the Olay serum 4-5 nights a week (bought it after your first post with them!). It’s time to repurchase, but I’m wondering if I should switch to this instead – what do you recommend?
I would def upgrade to the MAX formula. If you’re loving the serum stick to that, but give the new Max formula a go!
Thanks for the tip! First time retinol user and I’m wondering how much to apply? Dime-sized? I’ve been looking online and can’t find any guidance on how much to use
I would say a dime size is probably a good amount! I generally just apply til my skin feels fully moisturized. Probably between a dime and a quarter?
I’ve been a regular retinol user but this one seemed to irritate my cheeks – not sure if I’m doing something wrong or if I should just try less often or only spot treat. Any ideas?
Oh no! Retinol can be a little intense. How often were using it?
I recommend starting with 1-2x a week. OR, yes, you can always spot treat!
Also recommend chatting with a derm if it persists <3
I started out pretty slowly, 2x a week, but always seemed to have a reaction on my cheeks. Going to let my skin rest for a bit and then try again! It felt so good going on, super easy to use so I want it to work for me, LOL. Thanks for the tips!
Hi, going to see how this works, just started trying the Olay triple action, I’m 5 years from chemo, and radiation, just had massive heart attack in June, gone from no meds to few heart and vascular meds, skin very dry, my normal skin care soaks in like I never applied moisture, crazy nuts. Will see if this helps.
It’s my 1st time using retinol. I heard about this Olay retinol 24 max being so good and I thought it was just a normal regular moisturizer/facial lotion (ponds).
I put a good small amount of it all over my face and my neck including under my eyes for 3 nights.
I felt so good at 1st and 2nd day but noticed the skin feeling between and underneath my eyes. I felt the stretch on my skin but not sure if pulling out or together.
I thought it was all fine so I put it on the 3rd night. However the next day I felt a little bit of burning feeling on my face, especially underneath my eyes.
I stopped using it. I noticed my skin under my eyes looks wrinkley so I went back on putting on the regular ponds cream hoping it will help get it back to my regular skin.
I still feel the stretch and still my eyes underneath a bit wrinkley.
I dont know if I used it the wrong way. Please help.
I also just found out that there is an Olay Serum and eye cream so Im afraid I ruined my skin by using the Olay 24 Max underneath my eyes.
Please help and let me know you’re thoughts.
Whats the difference between the retinol 24 and the max
Did you read the blog post? I talk about this at the top – it has 20% more of Olay’s proprietary retinol complex. 🙂
Thanks for your personal experience. I and I’m a little bit older than you and have never used a retinol product before but I tend to have sensitive skin. I read another review that said it was irritating on their skin oh, so I’m going to take your advice and try the every other evening program first. Thx!
Every other night should do the trick! I hope you love it!
Love it, Love it Love it!! Face looks and feels totally different after a few days of use!!!
I just purchased the entire line of Olay’s 24 retinol
I started last night, I’m a face cream junkie and used
many expensive brands in the past. I wear make- up
everyday or most days while I’m working or out, at home I usually don’t, I moisturized in the morning and I wash the make- up off at night, followed by
a routine religiously every day, cleanser, Serums and creams before bed, yes I woke up this morning and my face didn’t feel like it need it any moisture in the morning ! I’m curious to see what it will feel like in one month… can’t wait I’m 53 years old with olive complexion
Thank you for sharing.
I’ve been using Olay Retinol Max (purple jar) for less than a month and my dark spots are lighter but the really amazing thing is that within one week – maybe less – the texture of my skin has changed – the flakiness is gone and people have even commented on what pretty skin I have.
My pores seem to be getting smaller and clogging much less. I’m 81 years new and wish I’d found this product 65 years ago!
Love olay products.
Which moisturizer would you use during the day. The new peptide one?
Yes! There’s a review of that on here as well!
So I’m reading some of the comments and I started using this with the eye cream at night and I’m waking up and peeling like crazy. I’m seeing people say fine size and I have definitely been using more than that. It’s my first time using a product like this so if I’m applying too much would that be causing the skin peeling?
Thanks for your review
Hi! I would definitely talk to a derm BUT I only recommend using a little bit, and starting out with just maybe 1 or 2 nights a week and working up.
I tried the oil of Olay retinol 24 max for couple days and stopped using it at night time 4 days. My skin is so dry and peeling. I feel a burning sensation on my skin when I’m using my Clinique toner on my face in the morning. I was hoping that this product will help to brighten my brown spots but I was disappointed. I would like to return the item but unfortunately I forgot where I bought it and I misplaced my receipt.
I just want to confirm with you that the retinol 24 Max products should only be used as a night cream?
So, which product I could use as a day cream and also for eyes in Olay products? I feel that I need a face cream in the day…I’m 55 and my skin condition is dry-normal.
Yes that is correct! For a day cream from Olay I really like their collagen peptide 24 – https://thestripe.com/olay-collagen-peptide24-review/ xx
I just want to say that the container is marvelous. The lip is not overlapped so as to make it difficult to get to – open, easy concept and it works. Thank you so very much!
By using the Retinol 24 Max moisturize and face wash for night use only, what would you use for wash and moisturizer in the mornings. 61 years old, wrinkles, dark spots, etc.