The best skincare ingredient you should be using

model comparing skincare ingredients on her face

Retinol is the best skincare ingredient according to researchers and dermatologists. Here is what to use.

The best skincare ingredient is rarely the trendiest.

The skincare industry loves marketing new potions that promise to turn back the clock. Brad Pitt’s wildly expensive line le Domaine, for example, features a nearly $400 serum with a duo of unproven active ingredients. It might be great, but it’s hard to know without a pricy purchase.

Experts, however, agree: the best skincare ingredient you should be using are retinoids.

Retinoids are derived from vitamin A. They have been widely studied, they are proven to fight wrinkles, and are very safe.

The main side-effect of retinoids is irritation, which can lead to photosensitivity. Experts recommend using an SPF 30 daily while using retinoids.

The SPF I like best is Paula’s Choice DEFENSE Essential Glow Mineral Moisturizer. It’s affordable, non-greasy, and lightly tinted to even your skin. It also features powerful actives, like stabilized vitamin C, vitamin E, and niacinamide.

Why retinoids are the best skincare ingredient

Retinoids are the best skincare ingredient because they work in three different ways to combat aging skin, according to Dr. Elaine Kung, founder of Future Bright Dermatology in NYC, via Yahoo!

“Retinols do the following: improve the function of the epidermis by normalizing keratinization. Prevent discoloration by blocking melanin transport to the epidermis and inhibiting tyrosinase, [and] prevent fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating fibroblasts to form collagen.”

Where to get the best retinoids for your skincare regimen

The most powerful and effective retinoid is called tretinoin. It often goes under the brand name Retin-A, but you will need a prescription.

Fortunately, this can be done online without going to see your doctor.

Nurx is a one-stop online pharmacy that quickly delivers this skin-saving ingredient. Expect a brief consultation and then tretinoin is delivered directly to your address.

The best part is that tretinoin costs a fraction of department-store skin creams, and will deliver much better results. Just be patient though. Genuine treatments take time.

You don’t need a prescription to use the best skincare ingredient

Over-the-counter retinol serums and creams are effective too. However, you have to make sure they have to contain retinoids in a sufficient dose.

Paula’s Choice CLINICAL 1% Retinol Treatment Cream is one of my favorites. It’s very hydrating and also contains a gentle form of vitamin C that won’t irritate your skin. This helps because a strong retinol regimen often means you don’t want other harsh ingredients on your skin.

Paula’s Choice is famous for its kitchen sink approach to ingredients, and this cream also includes a blend of new-generation peptides. And yet, this anti-aging triple-whammy is still priced at a fraction of other products with similar formulas.

Another effective retinol cream featuring the skin care ingredient you should be using is also from good-old Paula: Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Repair Cream.

This is a classic barrier cream to layer over your serum, best for those who need extra hydration. Along with retinol, it features stabilized vitamin C, peptides, and a variety of intense moisturizers like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.

Retinol serums can boost the best skincare ingredient

Extended use of even the best skincare ingredients can reduce their efficacy. If you want to boost your retinoid treatment, try adding a retinol serum underneath your cream.

Serums penetrate the skin better than creams as they deliver actives deeper into the skin. The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane is affordable at just $13 and can add that wrinkle-fighting edge even if your skin is accustomed to retinoids.

Retinol is hands down the best and most researched skincare ingredient available. Vitamin C products rank a close second, particularly for daytime, but I’ll save that for another post.

If you have the time or budget for just one skincare ingredient, a nightly retinol treatment should be your first move.