If you still aren’t using the gold standard in anti-aging, this easy-to-understand, expert-approved list from Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, will most likely make you take another look.
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According to Baumann, retinoids, hydroxy acids and vitamin C are the only things that have been proven to improve wrinkles. “However, of these three, retinoids work the best. Retinoids also prevent wrinkles, even out skin pigmentation, prevent acne and exfoliate skin to impart a radiant complexion. Retinoids (tretinoin and tazarotene specifically) are the only ingredients FDA-approved to treat wrinkles, which means they have been proven to work in double-blind placebo-controlled trials.”Our Pick: Avène RetrinAL ADVANCED Wrinkle Corrector ($56)
It Can Communicate With Your GenesRetinol up-regulates the genes that make collagen, hyaluronic acid and elastin and turns on the fibroblasts (the skin cells that make collagen). It down-regulates the genes that make collagenase (the enzyme that breaks down collagen).
Even a Tiny Amount Will Help
If the varying numbers of percentages are confusing to you, know this: All percentages will improve the skin, but higher percentages produce faster results. For example, with a higher percentage you can see results in six months, but a lower percentage can take 12 months. “I prefer starting patients on 0.25 percent retinol, then increasing them to 0.5 percent and then 1 percent. Eventually I change them to prescription-based tretinoin, then tazarotene.”Our Pick: Dermalogica Overnight Retinol Repair ($85)
They’re Simple to Fit Into Your Existing Skin Care Regimen
Even if you think your skin care routine is totally solid, if you aren’t using retinol, you may want to revise it—and you can start off small. “Apply a pea-size amount over moisturizer every third night for the first two weeks,” Dr. Baumann says. “Then increase to every other night for two weeks, and then every night.”Our Pick: CoverFX Custom Infusion Drops A+ Vitamins ($48)
The Side Effects Are Very Easy to Control
Redness, itching and flaking are the primary side effects of retinol, but they can be avoided by starting slowly with a low dose and a small amount. For example, start with a pea-size amount of 0.25 percent retinol every third night.Our Pick: Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Infusion Eye Cream ($65)
There Are a Ton of Options
Dr. Baumann says some of the best over-the-counter brands to try are SkinMedica, SkinCeuticals and Replenix.