Skincare has always been something I'm extremely passionate about.  My much enjoyed research, reviews and hands-on testing has been tremendously helpful towards leading me in the direction of beauty's best blockbusters.  I have to say, there are some highly impressive products available on the market.  The question to ask though is, which ones are truly right for you and your personal skin type.  While age and environmental considerations do play a huge role in deciding how to put together an effective skin care regime, one product ingredient transcends these factors and trumps all lotions and potions.  That one must-have magic cream is retinol.  

If you've spent anytime circling the beauty counter or strolling the cosmetics aisles then it's likely you've seen and heard something about retinol before.  What you may not have gotten, however, is a true understanding of what this ingredient really is and how it can turn back the clock for you.  It took me some time {along with the most gracious help of my derm doc} to really sort through the hype.  Happily, it turns out that the magic on this one is real.  And, even better than that is the fact that there is a bottle of the good stuff custom made for every budget and need.  

If you are a basics-work-best kinda girl then your local drugstore is the perfect place to start.  Well-known brands like Roc and Neutrogena both offer options that are worthy of a look.  While these lines contain retinol as opposed to retinoic acid {more on that in a minute}, they are therefore, less potent and a safer bet for anyone with sensitive skin or those who've never tested the vitamin A waters.  That being said, the results, while still cumulative, are slower in coming.  

The next step above these beginning options are what are known as medical grade retinols.  These choices are also of a non-prescription strength.  The big difference being that they slowly convert retinol into retinoic acid which is the game changer that prescription strength creams contain.  You can find these kicked up options at your dermatologist's office and in the form of a serum, cream or gel-based cream.  Most will come packaged in an airtight pump or metal tube, both designed to eliminate air and light exposure as these elements erode the product's efficacy.  

Finally, if you're ready to play with the big boys then you'll be most pleased with a prescription strength retinoid.  These creams undeniably cut to the chase with a three month window of wait and see time.  Following those 12 weeks, women and men have reported marked improvements in the texture, tone and firmness of their skin.  Some have even said it has given their complexion a clear, glasslike smoothness reminiscent of years gone by.  Wow!  That's pretty powerful praise.  

With all these options and the possibility and potential they hold, it is easy to want to give them a try.  And, by all means, my advice is to go for it.  There is, however, a word or two of caution I absolutely must express.  That being, these creams whether low dose or doctor-prescribed, can cause skin to react with redness and sensitivity {both perfectly normal but still in need of mention}.  With the increased turnover of cells, newer, fresher skin is being exposed and most susceptible to sunlight.  Daily SPF is a must!  Not that it isn't always, it is even more pertinent when using any retinol cream.  Since summer's rays are the strongest, you may want to wait for September to come before beginning a retinol regime that takes you into the fall and winter.  Then, by the time the turkey is being carved you'll be even more thankful this year for that beautiful, radiant glow and porcelain-like complexion!

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any questions.  I'd love to help!  Wishing you a beautiful weekend!!

Sources:  Ava Shamban, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology, UCLA. Photo Credits: