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Prescription-strength retinol used to require an actual prescription, but not anymore!
is now available over-the-counter for all your acne-fighting, anti-aging needs, and it's the best retinol skincare product you can buy.
Retinol is one of the few skincare ingredients that's (almost) as magical as people love to claim that it is. No, it's not going to instantly erase your fine lines or stop the natural process of aging in its tracks. But you can see real results from using serums and moisturizers that contain retinol, whether you're combating wrinkles or acne.
If you're here, you probably already know about the benefits of incorporating retinol into your routine. To sum it up briefly, the ingredient can help mitigate the signs of aging, acne, hyperpigmentation, and more. Just about anyone can benefit from the addition of retinol, yet it comes in so many different forms that it can be difficult to figure out how to do so.
From prescription retinoids to over-the-counter serums, moisturizers, gels, and even oils, there are endless options to choose from. I recommend seeking the advice of a dermatologist and developing a strong sense of your skin type before you begin a retinol regimen. But my basic advice is to start out with a lower percentage formula that balances retinol with soothing ingredients.
But once you're ready to take the retinol plunge, we've got you covered with recommendations. Here are the top five retinol products on the market to get you started on the path to clear, glowing, youthful skin!
Here are the best retinol products you can buy:
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best retinol overall
Why you'll love it: If you've only heard of one retinol, it's probably . The previously prescription-only product is finally available over-the-counter at your local drugstore.
istheretinoid. Getting your hands on one of these little blue and white tubes used to require a prescription from your dermatologist, but it's now available for anyone to pick up at the drugstore. And you truly can't beat it in terms of effectiveness and affordability.
Differin is primarily known as an acne treatment, but you can expect great results for just about any of the common skin concerns retinol is known to address. One potentially major downside is that it can take a while to see any of these results — the brand says 2 to 4 weeks — and your skin may get worse before it gets better.
Per the product description, "common side effects include dryness, redness, irritation and burning/stinging." If you experience them, they should subside after the first two weeks or so.
As always, it's probably a good idea to check with a dermatologist before you introduce anything major into your skincare routine.
Despite the possibility of harsh side effects, Differin is a popular retinol choice because, well, itworks.The gel has a 4.0 rating out of 5 on Amazon, based on more than 1,500 customer reviews, and has been featured in tons of publications, including Prevention and NY Mag's The Strategist. It was also a 2019 Allure Best of Beauty winner.
Pros:Affordable, prescription-strength retinoid available OTC
Cons:May cause negative reaction within the first few weeks of use
The best retinol for sensitive skin
Why you'll love it: Got sensitive skin? Ease into the anti-aging game with .
I have relatively sensitive skin, but I still want the benefits that come from powerful ingredients. helped ease me into a retinol routine without turning my face into a peeling red mess.
It contains 0.25% retinol concentrate and peptides for anti-aging effects, along with the brand's Skin Saver Complex, which is full of soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C + E, aloe, and colloidal oatmeal. The result is a powerful formula that won't aggravate even the most sensitive skin types.
I applied the serum every other night, using every single drop of the bottle, and experienced no irritation. While the formula includes hydrating ingredients, I definitely needed an additional moisturizer on top when I applied this, but that's to be expected — I almost never use a serum alone for hydration.
The packaging on this stuff is totally genius. It comes in an airtight bottle with a twist-up pump that minimizes the serum's exposure to light. While I only have very minimal fine lines and am not super prone to breakouts, I noticed a difference in the softness of my skin and how quickly blemishes faded.
My First Aid Beauty retinol recommendation is backed up by editors at Town & Country, Elle, and Prevention.
Pros:Gentle formula, clever airtight packaging, won't irritate sensitive skin
The best retinol eye cream
Why you'll love it: Finally, a retinol that you can safely use on your eyes. The is hydrating and powerful.
Yes, the is expensive. Like, ridiculously so — it's for 0.5 ounces. But it's also really, really good. I use my tube approximately every other night, alternating with a non-retinol eye cream, which means it has lasted me a long time.
The fragrance-free formula contains a powerful blend of retinol, babchi edible seeds, and palm, cotton, and linseed oils for anti-aging. Moisturizing hyaluronic acid rounds out the mix and helps mitigate the sensitizing effects of the retinol.
+Retinol Firming Eye Cream did sting the skin under my eyes the first few times I used it, but the longer I have it in my routine the less I notice any irritation. One of my favorite details is the cooling applicator. To apply, I squeeze the base to dispense some product and drag the metal tip in a half circle from my inner corner out to my orbital bone, being careful not to tug the delicate skin. Then I pat the eye cream until it's fully absorbed.
Plenty of other shoppers and experts agree this product is worth the hefty price tag. It has a 5-star rating on review website Beautypedia and has been recommended by Byrdie, Best Products, and Elle.
Pros:Specifically designed for eyes, contains hyaluronic acid, cooling applicator
Cons:Extremely pricey, might sting at first
The best retinol booster
Why you'll love it: Fancy yourself a skincare mixologist? Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster can be blended in with your favorite moisturizer or serum to amp up its anti-aging power.
My cocktail mixing skills leave much to be desired, but my skincare mixing skills are on point. If you like playing mix-master with your beauty routine, the Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster might be for you.
On its own, it's a lightweight retinol serum, but the thin texture makes it easy to blend with a thicker moisturizer or hydrating serum. This is great news if you don't want to replace anything in your current line-up — simply add the retinol into your existing routine and enjoy the anti-aging benefits.
This formula is very potent, so it's maybe not the best choice for beginner retinol users. That said, if you've used retinol before you probably won't find this too sensitizing, especially if you cocktail it with something soothing. The Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster has been featured by Elle, PopSugar, Allure, and is an Amazon's Choice pick.
Pros:Lightweight formula can be added to moisturizer or used alone, high 1% retinol concentration
Cons:Might be too harsh for sensitive skin or first-time retinol users
Buy the Paula's Choice 1% Retinol Booster on Amazon for .40 or
The best retinol moisturizer
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The best anti-aging serums you can buy
Using a serum as part of your skincare routine is essential to keep your skin looking youthful and to keep those darn wrinkles at bay. Considered the superheroes of skincare, serums are packed with powerful ingredients that penetrate deep into the skin.
Anti-aging serums deal primarily with fine lines, wrinkles, and dehydration, but also tone, texture, and dark spots. Some of the best anti-aging Ingredients to look out for are vitamin C, for brightening the skin, hyaluronic acid for plumping it up, and Retinol, a vitamin A derivative that treats a multitude of skin concerns from wrinkles to acne.
Here are our top picks for the best anti-aging serums you can buy:
The best makeup remover you can buy
It's good for your skin to remove makeup every night, but it can be a pain without the right makeup remover.
We've done our research and tested the best makeup removers on the market to come up our top recommendations. Whether you're a devout double cleanser or prefer removing makeup on the fly, there's something on this list for everyone.
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