Read This Before You Use a Retinol
A lot has changed in the last 20 years, but retinol is still the go-to ingredient for anti-aging skin care. Here's everything you need to know
In lieu of prescription-strength retinoids, many dermatologists take a multi-faceted approach to treating breakouts. They recommend products that combine retinol with anti-acne ingredients like salicylic acid. "The combination is great because the retinol will start to loosen the skin cells that line the follicles," says Prystowsky. "The oil that's accumulating inside the pores can push to the surface." Meanwhile, benzoyl peroxide kills bacteria and salicylic acid exfoliates the top layer of skin. Basically, you're breaking the breakout cycle in two places.
Fair warning: don't play chemist and mix two products containing these ingredients yourself unless your doctor gives you the green light. Instead, look for one product that contains two ingredients -- they've been formulated to work together. We like Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Anti-Blemish Cream, $13.99, and LaRoche Posay Effaclar K Clarifying Moisturizer, $30.99 -- both have a blend of a retinol derivative and salicylic acid -- and MyBody Obliterate 2-in1 Extreme Refining Solution, $90, with benzoyl peroxide and a retinol complex.
SEE NEXT PAGE: Retinol is Not For Everyone