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How To Start Using Retinol The *Right* Way, From A Dermatologist

If you have acne-prone or sensitive skin, you’ll want to be extra mindful when shopping for a retinol product. Remember: Retinoid is an umbrella term, and there are a few different kinds of products that fall into this category, along with a wide range of concentrations.

See, retinoids contain a class of molecules that help to unclog blocked pores, Rubin says. But depending on what kind of acne you have, you may get better results from prescription-grade retinoids, like tretinoin or Tazorac. However, starting with an OTC product and increasing the strength over time might not be a bad idea (more on that in a bit).

On the other hand: “For those with sensitive skin, I love to look for products that contain encapsulated retinol, which utilizes a technology that ‘time releases’ the retinol more slowly, so it’s not hitting your skin all at once,” Rubin explains.

Further, those with sensitive skin will benefit from a retinol formula that contains barrier-supporting ingredients as well. A few of Rubin’s favorites include glycerin, squalane, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid. (This could mean your retinol comes in a cream, rather than a serum.)

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