You Won’t Believe How Well This Affordable Anti-Aging Product Works

Looking for a powerful anti-aging product that can pretty much do it all? Look no further than retinol. Highly recommended by top dermatologists, the anti-aging powerhouse is one skin care product you need in your arsenal ASAP.

We share more about the coveted ingredient, plus an affordable — read: under $7 — retinol serum that works shockingly well, ahead.

What is retinol?

Caring for the skin around the eyes

Prevention is key. | PavelKriuchkov/Getty Images

Simply put, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. Known as the cousin of retinoids (a stronger derivative found in prescription creams), retinol houses the same — only less powerful — anti-aging benefits as retinoids.

According to this article on Dr. Oz, retinoids are highly recommended by dermatologists, as they’re proven to improve the look of aged and photodamaged skin. That being said, just because you don’t have a prescription for a retinoid, doesn’t mean you can’t reap its anti-aging benefits. Over-the-counter products containing 1% of retinol can have a noticeable effect on fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging skin.

And while effective anti-aging products tend to err on the side of expensive, that’s not always the case. In fact, we found one retinol product that costs less than $7 and is just as powerful as its expensive counterparts. We share the details, ahead.

How is retinol anti-aging?

woman looking at mirror

Retinol reduces signs of aging. | Shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Scientifically proven to reduce the appearance of aging skin, retinoids and retinol are some of the best anti-aging ingredients out there. According to Carolyn Jacob, a board-certified dermatologist, retinoids and retinols can prompt surface skin cells to regenerate at a rapid pace. This, in turn, makes way for new cells to grow underneath, revealing healthier, more youthful-looking skin.

In addition, these ingredients can also thicken the layer of skin where wrinkles form and interfere with collagen breakdown. Plus, retinol and retinoid are both rich in antioxidants, which are known for protecting the skin against environmental aggressors that cause premature signs of aging, such as sunlight, free radicals, and pollution. Needless to say, they’re major defenders in the fight against aging skin that help keep the complexion youthful.

Other benefits of retinol

young woman with clear complexion in the bathroom

Retinol helps fight acne and dullness. | iStock/Getty Images

In addition to anti-aging benefits, retinol can also unclog pores and improve the look of dull skin, which helps reduce adult acne. And according to the American Academy of Dermatology, retinol and retinoids can also help treat sun damaged — aka photodamaged — skin.

Who can use retinol?

Anyone can use retinol with proper supervision. | Nandofotos/iStock/Getty Images

Ask most dermatologists, and they’ll all tell you the same: Anyone can use retinol and retinoids in their skin care routine. The only thing is, the anti-aging ingredient can have a drying effect on the skin, so some may need to reduce their application to a few times a week instead of every day. Before incorporating retinol into your regimen, we recommend consulting your dermatologist to find out what frequency of application is right for you.

How retinol fits into your daily regimen

Beautiful Woman applying facial moisturizing cream

Apply at night for the best application. | ThomFoto/Getty Images

As far as your daily regimen goes, a general rule of thumb is to apply skin care products from lightest to heaviest (that way, your skin can absorb each and every product). However, retinol has another rule. Considered photo-inactive — meaning it can break down and become less effective in sunlight — retinol works best when you apply it at night.

Precautions to take when adding retinol to your skin care routine

Woman wearing hat applying sunscreen

Protect your skin to avoid irritation. | LiudmylaSupynska/iStock/Getty Images

Because of their strength, retinol and retinoids can cause irritation in some complexions, so it’s best to start with a less aggressive formula. To avoid irritation, try mixing a little of your retinol product into your night cream and working your way up to using the concentrated formula on its own. You may also want to try using it only a few times a week until you’re confident your skin can handle daily application.

Another precaution to take? Sunlight. As we mentioned earlier, sunlight can break down retinol and render it less effective, so it’s best to apply it at night. But it’s also important that you apply sunscreen every single day to help make the most of those anti-aging results. After all, sunscreen is the most effective way to protect your skin from the aging effects of the sun.

Next: Our inexpensive — but effective — retinol recommendation

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane

The ordinary retinol

Retinol for a bargain price | The Ordinary

Price: $6.70

Don’t let it’s price tag fool you, The Ordinary’s Retinol 1% in Squalane is an anti-aging powerhouse. Like most of The Ordinary’s products, the high-quality (yet affordable) formula is as powerful as some of its luxe counterparts. Formulated with 1% pure retinol in squalane — the skin’s natural defense against hydration loss — this water-free solution can reduce the look of photo damage, fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of skin aging.

Other products to try

PM night serum with retinol

Retinol fusion PM night serum | Peter Thomas Roth

In addition to The Ordinary’s Retinol 1% in Squalane, there are countless of other effective retinol skin care products out there. Here are a couple of our favorites:

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum ($65)

Formulated to give the complexion maximum results with minimal irritation, this unique blend of time-released microencapsulated retinol 1.5% exfoliates the complexion and provides the skin with bursts of retinol while you sleep. With continued use, the Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum from Peter Thomas Roth can reduce the look of aging skin, improve the skin’s texture, and tone the overall complexion.

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment ($56)

Uniquely formulated to hydrate the complexion while delivering anti-aging benefits, the Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment from Paula’s Choice is fast-absorbing, diminishes signs of aging — think: fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots — and provides the complexion with a burst of lightweight hydration.