Getting serious about your skincare routine can make you feel like an instant grown up, even if adulting isn鈥檛 your thing (yet). Visiting a dermatologist, understanding your skin type, and adding effective ingredients 鈥 like retinol (also known as vitamin A) 鈥 to your regimen is a solid starting point.

When it comes to using retinol, the first step is understanding what it is and how to best incorporate it into your routine. 鈥淩etinol is a vitamin A derivative that鈥檚 a weaker, over-the-counter version of prescription-strength Retin-A,鈥 says California-based dermatologist Jill Javahery. 鈥淩etinols have the ability to unclog your pores, enhance cell turnover, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and help even out pigmentation.鈥 Good news: Retinols can work wonders for most adults if they鈥檙e used correctly 鈥 but note that women who are pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid it. Read on to get more familiar with this brightening, plumping ingredient, and discover products that contain it at every budget.

$15 鈥 $30

If you鈥檙e looking for an affordable way to introduce retinol into your routine, you鈥檙e in luck: Lots of effective drugstore options exist, like Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Regenerating Face Cream ($26). 鈥淲hen retinols are used appropriately, they鈥檙e very safe, but should not be used in daytime products,鈥 Javahery explains. Your skin is more susceptible to sun damage after using a retinol because of the exfoliation that occurs. This option from Neutrogena works well because it鈥檚 intended to be used exclusively at night, so you won鈥檛 compromise your complexion during the day.

$30 鈥 $50

Applying an option like Philosophy Help Me ($49), a night treatment that has time-released retinol, as the final step in your nighttime skincare will help your face get familiar with the new ingredient. 鈥淎pply this type of retinol after washing your face but before moisturizer,鈥 says Javahery. 鈥淚 recommend using them every other night, at least in the beginning, to give your skin time to become accustomed to a new product.鈥

$50 鈥 $75

Keep in mind that not all retinols are created equally. 鈥淭here are many types of retinols that vary in strength,鈥 she tells us. 鈥淔ormulations, such as whether it鈥檚 a cream, gel, or serum, will affect the way the skin absorbs the product.鈥 A serum like Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65) has a potent formula but is also packed with vitamin E to make sure it鈥檚 gentle on the skin. Give this option a go if you want to plump up wrinkles and even out hyperpigmentation.

$75 +

Once you鈥檙e a retinol regular, dive into a powerful product like Kat Burki Retin-C Treatment Complex ($165). It鈥檚 made with vitamin C, which helps with efficacy, so you鈥檒l notice serious results after continued use. Your skin will also be protected against free radicals, so fine lines and wrinkles don鈥檛 stand a chance of forming.

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