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As far an anti-aging products go, few have been as extensively researched—and dermatologist recommended—as retinol. These members of the vitamin A family have a bevy of beauty benefits for the skin, including accelerating cellular turnover, increasing collagen production and improving the appearance of dark spots and discoloration.
According to Miami dermatologist, Leslie Baumann, MD, the anti-aging effects of retinoids (retinol’s prescription-based sibling) were discovered in the 1970s, when the ingredient was in FDA trials for treating acne. “Dr. Albert Kligman (who coined the term “cosmeceutical”) and his partner Dr. Jim Leyden noticed that their research subjects had less wrinkles as they aged. They were able to prove that retinoids improve wrinkles, which eventually led to the approval of Renova, the first prescription topical for wrinkles caused by photodamage.”
And it’s (almost) never too early to start, according to Dr. Baumann. “There are a few reasons to start using retinol in your 20s. First, collagen production begins to slow in this decade and you’re likely to still be experiencing breakouts, even if just monthly. Retinol helps promote the skin’s natural exfoliation process, so dead cells don’t stick around and clog pores,” she explains.
The best part of all? There are many effective (and affordable) over-the-counter retinol options so you can start seeing anti-aging results without a prescription. Here, five of our favorites…
Neostrata Skin Active Retinol + NAG Complex ($78)
Combining 0.5% pure retinol with the patented NAG Complex that works to maintain and restore the volume and firmness associated with youthful skin, this supercharged treatment lets you tackle all the major signs of aging with just one product.
La Roche-Posay Redermic R ($57)
This French pharmacy favorite harnesses the power of a proprietary booster complex that helps provide the benefits of a higher retinol concentration with less of the ingredient to minimize irritation. It also contains exfoliating lipo-hydroxy acid to help smooth skin texture, fine lines and wrinkles.
Lancer Advanced C Radiance Treatment ($82)
Many celebrities credit Dr. Harold Lancer (and his namesake skincare line) for their flawless skin, and as the name implies, this glow-getter blends the benefits and 10% vitamin C and retinol. Another plus: This hydrating formula is packaged in an air-tight pump so you know both star ingredients retain their potency until they make their way from the bottle to your skin.
Kate Somerville DermalQuench LiquidLift + Retinol ($85)
Facialist-to-the-stars Kate Somerville created this comprehensive anti-aging serum with traditional retinol plus two “natural bio-retinols,” an oxygen-infusing complex, hydrating hyaluronic acid and a blend of botanical extracts that work synergistically to restore radiance, improve uneven skin tone and accelerate skin-cell turnover.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0 ($72)
This powerful formula contains the highest concentration of retinol available over-the-counter, but it utilizes advanced technologies to maximize effectiveness while minimizing the risk of irritation. Ideal for those whose skin is accustomed to retinol, it’s a sure-fire way to prevent and improve the appearance of discoloration, fine lines and wrinkles.
NOTE: SkinCeuticals product was purchased for review. Opinions are my own.