Ask any skin doc what their favorite anti-aging ingredient is, and we’re willing to bet good money they’ll say retinol. Buzzy new ingredients may come and go, but when it comes to legitimate, proven results, this one simply can’t be beat. Retinol is one type of retinoid, a group of chemicals all related to vitamin A, explains Neal Schultz, M.D., NYC dermatologist, host of, and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz. Retinol is the OTC form, while the prescription-strength kind (Retin-A) is retinoic acid (there are also other forms—retinaldehyde, adapalene—all with some subtle nuances).

The main difference between OTC and prescription options is their potency and efficacy, notes Dr. Schultz, though all retinoids act in a similar matter. Specifically, it comes down to their unique ability to work both on the superficial and deeper layers on the skin. On the surface, they help increase cell turnover, which results in all kinds of benefits—fewer breakouts (it’s why it’s a commonly prescribed acne treatment), more even skin tone, and an overall glow. Retinoids also work deeper, in the dermis, helping to stimulate collagen production. And more collagen equals fewer wrinkles. Sounds good, right?

Work retinol into your regimen by taking your pick from any one of these 10 products.

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