if you’re looking for the #1 anti-aging ingredient on the market, look no further than retinoids (AKA retinol and retin-A). they’re derived from vitamin A and considered the superheroes of turning back the clock. they also fight acne, fade hyperpigmentation, and resurface the skin’s texture for a smooth, even-toned complexion. however, they can be very damaging if used incorrectly, so before you pick your poison, there are a few things to be aware of…

what they do

retinoids promote faster cell turnover, stimulating the production of fresh, new skin cells and encouraging aging/damaged cells to speed up their renewal process. think of them as “cell communicators”

there are 2 versions: retinol and retin-A

retinol: is found over-the-counter and typically sold in concentrations of 0.05 to 2 percent (the highest strength you can buy without a prescription). once applied to the skin, it converts into retinoic acid (AKA retin-A) and starts working its magic. however, the conversion process can take several weeks to months before it becomes effective, so stay patient

retin-A (AKA tretinoin): is prescription-only. it’s much stronger than retinol, and the results are immediate because it’s already been converted into retinoic acid (the acid form of vitamin A). however, just because it’s more potent, doesn’t mean it’s right for your skin type. if you have dry or sensitive skin, it could be too irritating, which is why it requires a prescription from your derm

the adjustment period

for the first couple of weeks, your skin might experience peeling, dryness and redness. don’t quit. this is normal and part of the transition period, which is referred to as retinization. on average, it takes around 1 month for your skin to adjust, so if you stop in the middle of the retinization process, you’ll just have to start it all over again

how to use

only use at night as they make your skin extra sensitive to the sun. we recommend starting out 2x/wk with a lower concentration to see how your skin reacts. once you’ve built up a tolerance, you can start using more frequently or increase your percentage strength. but remember, the higher the concentration, the more likely you are to experience irritation

for more on retinoids & how to apply watch Rylie’s video here