With all the “must-have” lotions, new serums and glorified creams crammed into a single retail aisle, it’s hard to decipher the true anti-aging skin saviors from the gimmicky frauds. And, unless you’re equipped with knowledge right down to the ingredient list, sometimes — we’ll admit it! — the only thing that stands between us and a flop is its cutesy packaging.
Luckily, an essential, tried-and-true wonder ingredient that we can keep an eye out for on the fine-lines front is always the same: a retinoid. Derived from Vitamin A, retinoids have long been hailed an anti-aging saviors (and rightfully so!) thanks to their ability to stimulate new collagen production and improve skin elasticity, according to Dr. Neil Sadick, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Even better? The supercharged ingredient won't just smooth out your furrowed brow, it also has the power to reduce acne and hyperpigmentation. Retinol, a milder, less-concentrated form of the vitamin A derivative that doesn’t require a prescription, should do the trick for most people.
As with any so-called miracle product, there are some serious side effects, especially if your skin skews sensitive: Because retinols have been known to cause irritation like dryness and flaking as well as sun sensitivity, Dr. Sadick recommends starting out light, and using only for three to five weeks at a time to prevent irritability. It’s also a good idea to look for a product that also contains an ultra-moisturizing ingredient like glycerin to offset the potential irritation that retinols may cause.