Skin Cycling Is Key For Glowing Skin — Literally Everything You Need To Know


Next up is retinoid night—yes, that includes over-the-counter retinol products. Retinoids and exfoliants speed up cell turnover, but they do it in very different ways. “Retinoids are working on the receptors,” Bowe explains. This is why clearing away dead skin on exfoliation night is so important. 

You can opt for an OTC retinol or a prescription-grade retinoid like tretinoin or Tazorac. So which one should you choose? “I usually start people off with over-the-counter products,” Bowe notes. These forms are gentler on the skin and will cause significantly less irritation than their prescription-grade cousins. 

Bowe recommends looking for a .3% retinol product if you’re just starting out. You can bump it up as your skin tolerates, but she warns: “The 1% formulas are not for the faint of heart.” 

“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,” board-certified dermatologist Courtney Rubin, M.D., FAAD once told mbg

While many people will get glowing results from OTC retinol, those with acne-prone skin may not only tolerate prescription-grade products with ease, but actually need them to keep stubborn acne at bay. 

All of this to say: If you have skin conditions like acne, rosacea, or eczema, it’s best to check with your derm before choosing a retinol product. Otherwise, start with a gentle retinol and work your way up. 


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