Plenty of ingredients are glow-inducing multitaskers that give your skin more than one benefit (think: vitamin C, which brightens while fending off future damage from free radicals or glycolic acid, which resurfaces while plumping up skin by creating new collagen). But there is only one beauty product that dermatologists will recommend, whether you want to zap redness, plump up fine lines, or even out skin texture—and that ingredient is retinol.
“Retinol is the best multitasker that exists,” says Loretta Ciraldo, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Dr. Loretta Skincare. “It’s excellent for acne, for anti-aging, and for pigmentation.” She points out that retinol is one of the two most studied ingredients (the other is vitamin C) in skin care that have been written about in peer-reviewed literature, “so we know it’s not a marketing gimmick—it really works.” And though you can use it preventatively in your 20s, she says you definitely want have a tube by the time you’re in your 30s to keep your complexion healthy.
As collagen production slows late in our 20s, often we need to supplement skin to help it make more. Retinol does just this, which in turn, helps with the aging process.”You actually get a molecular response where your skin starts to make collagen,” says Dr. Ciraldo. This reaction occurs because retinol is a bioavailable ingredient to our skin. That means that once we slather it on, skin knows exactly how to utilize it to promote cellular turnover, which helps nix and prevent acne, brighten dark spots, and diminish the appearance of fine lines.
Despite having a long list of covetable perks, retinol has been found to be irritating to some; however, you can mitigate many of these irritating effects by looking for the right product. Dr. Ciraldo recommends paying attention to the percentage of retinol in the product that you’re buying, which often come in .25 percent increments. “I say that 0.5 percent is the perfect amount, as one percent can be a little irritating and 0.25 percent sometimes isn’t enough to see the improvement in your skin,” she says. Her advice is to apply your retinol product in a well-lit mirror. “If you see any redness or flaking, skip it that night.” Of course, you can also turn to a plant-based retinol alternative for similar (but extra-gentle) effects, too, like bakuchiol. Either way, take it from dermatologists: Buy yourself a retinol serum, stat.
Watch the video below to learn more about the many retinol skin benefits:
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