Cosmetic dermatologists answer questions every day in their office about skin care and the best ingredients for rejuvenation and anti-aging. By far the best “anti-aging” product is a good broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 used under a hat. Sun exposure and photodamage causes more aging of the skin, which is seen as wrinkles, brown spots, dullness, broken capillaries and rough texture, etc. than a person’s actual chronologic age. However, the second best anti-aging ingredients is a retinoid.

What’s a retinoid?

Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A than can increase skin cell turnover and stimulate collagen production to unclog pores, improve fine lines and wrinkles, even our skin discoloration and give the skin a healthy glow. The 2 most effective OTC retinoids these days are retinol and retinaldehyde (retinal), which is gentler.

When should I use it?

Because the sun can inactivate them, retinoids are best used at night with a good moisturizer since irritation and dryness can occur for the first two weeks as the skin is becoming accustomed to its use. To help the skin slowly accept a retinoid, start by using it every other night or only two nights a week at first with increased use as tolerated. Pair it with a gentle creamy cleanser and thick moisturizer for improved tolerance.

The best formulations are retinols combined with other ingredients such as glycolic and hyaluronic acids. Since these formulations are stronger than can be obtained at the local department or convenience store, you’ll have to ask for these advanced formulations at your dermatologist’s office.

Products with the highest concentration of retinoids

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