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This rockstar skincare ingredient is the 'secret sauce of anti-aging,' according to 3 experts

mature woman applying skin care in mirror
There's nothing wrong with wanting younger-looking skin, and this expert-approved ingredient is a harmless way of achieving it. (Getty) (Getty)

Aging is a wonderful thing — some would even call it a luxury — but that doesn't mean you should feel guilty about wanting younger-looking skin. While wrinkles are signs of wisdom, many people would just rather not have them, and that's OK! If you love maturing but still want to keep your skin as tight and smooth as possible, skin care experts recommend investing in the popular "rock star ingredient" retinol.

Dr. Steve Gendron, who specializes in physiology-endocrinology, Texas-based board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Jeneby and Dr. Jerald Friedman of North Jersey Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, each rave about retinol, calling it one of the most restorative skincare ingredients for mature skin.

"When it comes to skincare for mature skin, retinol is the rockstar ingredient everyone raves about," Dr. Gendron says. "It's like the secret sauce of anti-aging." Jeneby also adds that the hype surrounding this well-known skincare powerhouse is real, adding that it's "the No. 1 most critical ingredient to look for" if you have mature skin.

But, what exactly is retinol? To put it plainly, it's a derivative of Vitamin A that's known for its long list of benefits on aging skin. Also, after reading the headline, "collagen" may have been the first ingredient that came to your mind — and you're not wrong, because it goes hand-in-hand with retinol.

"[Retinol] works by stimulating collagen production, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles," Jeneby says. "Additionally, retinol encourages cell turnover, helping to shed dead skin cells and reveal newer, younger-looking skin underneath."

Friedman also explains that retinol "can plump the skin and make fine lines look less visible" by boosting collagen production, resulting in younger-looking skin.

The best thing about retinol, though, is that you don't need a prescription to get it. In fact, some of our favorite affordable and well-known skincare brands have retinol formulas that thousands of shoppers say actually work. One of the most popular is this creamy, thick night moisturizer from Olay.

This hydrating, fragrance-free cream from Olay is formulated with retinol for targeting fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots and more. It also has niacinamide to help your skin retain moisture and amino peptides to help the skin look smoother and firmer. It's also known for its balanced consistency that isn't too light or too rich, allowing you to moisturize your skin without that heavy feeling or greasy residue.

With over 1,200 five-star reviews on Olay, over 7,000 perfect reviews at Target and more than 3,500 on Amazon, it's no surprise that this retinol moisturizer is a favorite, especially among mature shoppers.

"I could definitely see improvement in how my skin looked, and my face feels so much softer now that I use this product nightly," one impressed Olay shopper wrote. 

$30 at Olay

Another favorite we've found that both experts and everyday shoppers love is Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment Cream. It's a favorite among estheticians, especially since it isn't harsh on the skin and has other gentle but effective ingredients, like Vitamin C to help brighten the skin while the retinol does its thing — we love a double-duty product!

Though a bit pricey, this retinol cream is a more versatile option that's suitable for use both in the morning and night. Since it's a bit more lightweight and not as rich as the night cream, for example, it absorbs into the skin more quickly and is said to lie well under makeup.

This one has a blend of retinol and hyaluronic acid for deep hydration and vitamin C to help with skin brightening. Also, since some people need to be eased into retinol products, this one starts out with just a 1% concentration, making it easy to adjust to. It's also formulated without fragrances and parabens, so it's more palatable for those with sensitive, thin or even adult acne-prone skin.

"I have never tried retinol before. I am in love," one pleasantly surprised Amazon shopper wrote. "My skin has never looked more even-toned [and] the lines in my face have blended into a healthy glow." The same shopper added that her "only gripe is the price," but later admitted that she "used to spend $90 on something that only treated the superficial layer of my skin." So, all in all, several shoppers believe they get their money's worth with this Paula's Choice fave.

$65 at Amazon
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Keep in mind, though, that experts recommend introducing retinol into your skincare routine slowly, starting with just a couple of times a week. After your skin acclimates and you see no signs of irritation, you can increase slowly. Also, be sure that you're always wearing sunscreen the day after you use retinol (if you use it at night) or immediately after leaving home (if you use it during the daytime) as your skin will be much more sensitive to sunlight after using this ingredient.

"Be aware that retinol can make your skin more sensitive to sun exposure, so it's crucial to combine it with a high-SPF sunscreen during the day for optimal protection and results," Jeneby says.

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