When it comes to active ingredients that actually deliver visible results, retinoids (including retinol) are the gold standard, approved by most dermatologists and backed by years and convincing clinical research. Retinoids—chemical compound (derived from Vitamin A) helps accelerate cell turnover to reveal a new layer of younger-looking, brighter skin—offer both anti-aging and anti-acne magical powers, making this skincare group an excellent option for treating a wide range of different skin concerns.

Retinoids work as an effective chemical exfoliant that essentially works by sloughing away dead skin cells on the skin’s surface to reveal a new, younger-looking layer underneath. This exfoliating process has several skin-enhancing benefits, including helping soften the look of fine lines, fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, combat dullness and texture, and unclog de-congested pores. Unfortunately, because of this skin-smoothing and skin-sloughing process, this class of skincare is also associated with irritation, dryness, redness and flaky skin. Masks are a great way to gently reap the benefits of retinoids with much less risk of these side effects.

Face masks are basically the ultimate self-care product in the realm of skincare, so if you’re looking for a way to ease into incorporating the magical ingredient into your routine, masks are a great entry-level place to start. Ahead, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite mild, yet effective retinol masks to give you a flake-free glow.

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