Retinol has long been the gold standard anti-aging ingredient. It’s the beauty do-it-all that can tackle every skin woe, from pigmentation and uneven texture to wrinkles and zits. In short, there is not a person on this earth that wouldn’t benefit from retinol. Of course, there’s a “but”: Retinol is notoriously irritating. It’s a powerful, effective ingredient, but the side effect of all the good work is that it can cause the skin to flake, go red and become sensitized. These less-than-desirable side effects are short-lived, usually. As the skin starts to acclimate to the retinol, it does calm down, but that’s why you have to take a low and slow approach to traditional retinol products: low percentages and limited use, building up over time. Some retinol products can only be used for a short period of time before your skin has to take a break altogether. This usually means people with hypersensitive skin find it’s difficult to reap its rewards.

Enter: the new guard of over-the counter retinol products. It’s little wonder that, with retinol being such a skincare superhero, brands wanted to be able to deliver its benefits to its shoppers without the downsides. And deliver they have. Brands from Clinique to Drunk Elephant have found ways to incorporate retinol into high-tech, non-irritating formulas. But wait, there’s more. All of these next-gen retinol products are made with an added a cocktail of other actives, hydrators, and botanicals to amplify the smoothing and brightening effects. It sounds too good to be true, but we promise it isn’t. Welcome to the world of retinol 2.0: we can all play here.  

Keep scrolling to meet the new class of over-the counter retinol products.

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