Retinol Serums for a Glowing, Youthful Complexion

This magic ingredient should be part of your daily skin routine—starting yesterday.

Whether you’re trying to prevent or reverse aging, retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is likely the answer. (The term “retinoid” is the umbrella under which retinol falls, as do stronger, prescription-needed tretinoins, like Retin-A.) Retinol helps skin-cell turnover, so the benefits are numerous: The potent ingredient can do everything from calm breakouts to firm skin to decrease pore size. Side effects can include dryness and increased sun sensitivity (don’t forget the SPF!), and some people report the “retinol uglies,” a period after first usage wherein your skin gets worse before it gets better. (Applying moisturizer before and after application seems to help.) If you can get through that adjustment phase, your patience will likely be rewarded with more youthful skin, whether you’re battling puffy, drooping eyelids, dullness or fine lines. If you have particularly sensitive skin, check with your derm before adding a retinol to your lineup.

Treatment Trifecta

The organic ingredients in this trio of skin products promise to moisturize, protect against free radicals and reduce inflammation. Flawless. Younger. Perfect.

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In addition to retinol, hyaluronic acid and vitamin C are the other products in your antiaging arsenal, fighting wrinkles in different ways: HA moisturizes, keeping skin firm and plump; vitamin C protects skin from sun exposure and pollution. Pro tip: Introduce new products into your rotation one at a time. That way, if one irritates your skin or isn’t right for you, you’ll be able to isolate the culprit. (It’ll also stop you from overloading your skin with too much new stuff all at once, which can be a shock to the system.)

Nice and Gentle

Doctors love this drugstore brand, which is fragrance-free, paraben-free and non-comedogenic. CeraVe

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Some products feature “encapsulated” retinol, which is a time-released version of the ingredient, believed to be gentler and more effective. Encapsulation protects the retinol from breaking down, so it works better.

Cruelty-Free

HA hydrates; SA exfoliates; aloe vera moisturizes; methylsulfonylmethane strengthens and reduces inflammation; and olive oil firms. Eva Naturals

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A vitamin C–forward serum works especially well to improve skin tone and discoloration, but when combined with retinol, it may be too strong for sensitive folks. If the product you’re using has both, use sparingly until you’re sure that it doesn’t cause you irritation.

Also Consider

Worth the Splurge

This product boasts three different retinoid-related technologies and is formulated without gluten, animal-derived products or formaldehyde. Murad

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Influencer-Approved

The retinol in this pick combines with encapsulated antioxidant CoQ10, Hawaiian white honey, bisabolol, cactus extract and ginger to balance and soothe the skin while reversing the effects of aging. Sunday Riley

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