Just one mindless walk down the skincare aisle at your corner drug store is enough to give you decision fatigue, especially when it comes to anti-aging products. If you'd rather have someone tell you exactly what to do every day to have flawless, glowing skin, board-certified dermatologist Sandy Johnson is here for you.
"Every non-pregnant person should use sunblock and sun protection during the day and apply retinol or retinoids at night," she point-blank told Man Repeller. "Retinol/Retin-A and other retinoids are the best creams to prevent skin cancer and aging changes to the skin." Put simply, retinoids are all vitamin A derivatives that promote cell turnover by exfoliating your skin and helping you build collagen. The secret is in the exfoliation: This helps clear pores, diminish the appearance of fine lines, and even prevent wrinkles from forming in the first place. One study even found that retinoids may even help prevent skin cancer.
What's more, retinoids have been around since the mid-1960s, when dermatologist Albert M. Kligman noticed their anti-aging side effects. In other words, "We now have close to 30 years of experience and studies of Retin-A, and other than normal side effects, there have been no long-term negative effects," clarifies dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon Joel Schlessinger. Some, especially those with sensitive skin or rosacea, may experience dryness, flakiness, or irritation when they first start using a retinol serum or cream (especially prescription-strength).
While dermatologists agree that for adults, it's never too early to start using retinoids, it's a simple anti-aging routine that you can start in your early 20s, says dermatologist Michele Green. Simply smooth a pea-sized amount on your face up to three times a week, and always wear sunscreen (as retinol makes you more sensitive to the sun). Ready to give it a try? The beauty editors over at our sister site Byrdie love Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Night Cream ($20) as a cheaper option, and NaturaBissé Essential Shock Intense Retinol Fluid ($110) for something more luxurious.