Retinol Roundup: The 3 Products You Need In Your Anti-Aging Arsenal
There’s no shortage of products out there that promise anti-aging benefits, but none have stood the test of time—more than 80 years, if we’re being specific—quite like retinol. Where most allegedly skin-saving formulas eventually lose their hype, the same cannot be said about good ol’ retinol. Fine lines, wrinkles, discolored skin, and enlarged pores should all fear its wrath, making it a skin care arsenal must-have item for just about everyone. But what gives this effective ingredient so much staying power? Is it safe for everyone? What retinol products are best to use? For answers to these questions and more, keep reading!
WHAT IS RETINOL?
Before we dive right in, it’s important to understand what retinol is before you go singing its praises to all of your best friends (and maybe a few strangers, too). Retinol is a powerful vitamin A derivative and its multitasking capabilities—including surface cellular turnover, diminishing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, shrinking the look of enlarged pores, and firming and smoothing skin—are chief to its fanfare. Pretty impressive, no? Plus, it’s available in multiple shapes, sizes, and concentrations in creams, serums, peels and more, to make incorporating it into your routine as easy as can be. Now that you know exactly what you’ll be smearing on your complexion, read on to discover who should be reaching for a retinol formula.
WHO CAN USE IT?
The beauty of retinol is that you can start to use it in your skin care routine as early as your mid-20s, which is great news because who wants to miss out on its laundry-list of benefits? That said, there are a few downsides. Side effects of over-using retinol can include anything from redness to dryness so be extra careful, especially if your skin is sensitive.
Furthermore, There are a few retinol “rules” you should follow to ensure that your skin isn’t negatively impacted by the potent ingredient. First things first: Start slow. If you’re testing the waters with retinol for the first time, start with a lower concentration and slowly build up your tolerance, since your skin may need a bit of time to acclimate to this multi-tasking ingredient. Use it once a week, then twice a week and see how your skin reacts. Also, keep in mind that retinol is extremely sensitive to oxygen, heat, and light, so only use it in the evening and make sure it’s packaged in a stable tube or airtight pump. The benefit of working your way up with retinol is that your skin will develop a tolerance to the powerful product, a term dermatologists refer to as “retinizing” your skin. (To get started, read this beginner’s guide!)
For the best anti-aging routine, start using retinol in your 20s, pairing it with antioxidants and SPF during daytime hours. Your skin can become more susceptible to sunburns while using retinol, so be sure to use a Broad Spectrum SPF 15 or higher every morning, and reapply throughout the day. To up the protection ante, pair your sunscreen with additional sun protection measures such as seeking shade and avoiding peak sun hours.
OUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS FORMULATED WITH RETINOL
Now that you know all the benefits of incorporating a retinol into your routine, and exactly how to use it, we’re not surprised you want to add one into your anti-aging regimen. Why wouldn’t you? All that’s left to do now is find a product that works for you and your skin. To make the process easier, we’re sharing three retinol-formulated products—from the L’Oreal portfolio of brands—to stock up on, below!
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0
Remember when we mentioned retinol concentrations? Well, here’s a formula with a high concentration of retinol, ideal for skin that’s already pre-conditioned to retinol. This night cream—with the brand’s highest concentration of 1% pure retinol—can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, skin discoloration, and blotchiness. It’s not perfect skin in a bottle, but it’s pretty damn close. To use, apply a pea-sized amount of this night cream to clean skin, and wait 30 minutes before applying any other skin care products. The brand suggests limiting initial use to once or twice a week, gradually increasing frequency to every other night, and then every night as tolerated.
Warning: While it is formulated to minimize irritation commonly associated with the use of retinol creams, it’s still important to consult your dermatologist prior to use since the concentration of retinol is very high.
SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0, $72.00 MSRP
Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Concentrate
Ten years in the making, Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Concentrate with pure retinol gives fine lines and wrinkles a serious run for their money. This lightweight serum is ideal for normal and combination skin types, and offers the perks of visibly-smoothed deep wrinkles and plumper-looking skin. Immediately after use, you can expect a dramatically smoother and plumped skin appearance, and within one month, the skin’s youthfulness is visibly restored. Dealing with problematic expression lines? This formula will help visibly smooth laugh lines and wrinkles for a refreshed appearance. Use Vichy Liftactiv Retinol HA Concentrate alone daily or layer it under a non-retinol moisturizer— just be sure to avoid the delicate eye area, and follow up with a broad spectrum SPF every morning.
Vichy LiftActiv Retinol HA Concentrate, $45.00 MSRP
La Roche-Posay Redermic [R]
This formula contains a one-two punch of retinol and an exclusive retinol booster complex—made of retinyl linoleate and adenosine—and can help visibly reduce upper lip, forehead, and crow’s feet wrinkles while reducing skin discomfort commonly associated with retinols. Expect to see smoother skin and a more even tone, as well.
La Roche-Posay Redermic [R], $56.99 MSRP