In the skin care world, retinol reigns supreme — and luckily, you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to reap the benefits of this unparalleled ingredient. That's because you can buy plenty of great drugstore retinols right over the counter. The best drugstore retinol for you, though, will depend on your budget, your skin type, and whether you prefer a fast-absorbing serum, a lightweight lotion for layering, an oil-free gel (ideal for acne-prone skin), or a richer, more moisturizing cream.
If you’re new to using retinol, start off slowly to help counteract the initial redness and irritation many people experience while their skin gets used to turning over at a faster rate. To reduce those short-term side effects, experts advise waiting 30 minutes after cleansing to use your retinol, and then applying only a pea-sized amount to your face. Use it just a couple of times a week at first until your skin builds up a tolerance. If your skin seems to be adjusting well, you can then move on to applying it every other night.
Finally, after using your retinol, apply a nourishing moisturizer to balance out its potentially drying effects. Also, keep in mind that retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be extra vigilant about applying your broad-spectrum sunscreen (with an SPF of at least 30) daily. Lastly, retinol should not be used by people who are pregnant, nursing, or considering pregnancy.
Now that you're well-informed on retinol 101, scroll on to shop six of the best drugstore retinols you can buy over the counter.
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