If you’ve been meaning to add a retinoid into your beauty routine but just haven’t gotten around to it, we can’t think of a better time. A retinoid, the umbrella name for all vitamin-A derivatives like retinol, can work magic on fine lines and wrinkles, acne and even hyperpigmentation. The best part? They don’t have to cost an entire paycheck. The best The Ordinary retinol products are actually priced at less than $10.

Generally speaking, retinoids are stronger, sometimes prescription-strength and retinol is over-the-counter and can take a little longer to work. But that really depends on the formulation. The Ordinary has been able to find that sweet spot of effectiveness without the extreme redness and flaking you sometimes hear about. Of course, you should always start slow and build up to using any retinoid all the time to see how your own skin tolerates it.

Retinoids work by speeding up cell turnover through chemical exfoliation or put simply, sloughing away dead skin cells. Even if you don’t have wrinkles or acne, many use retinol to get rid of uneven texture and skin tone. You’ll be surprised at how well they can brighten and smooth even better than a scrub you have lying around. The Ordinary has a few key retinoid products that fans are seriously obsessed with. Shop them all, below.




the ordinary retinol

Image: The Ordinary.

Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

This water-free serum contains 0.2 percent of pure retinol plus squalane to balance any excess dryness.

the ordinary decium

Image: The Ordinary.

Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion

This stable serum emulsion promises to deliver a reduction in the visible signs of aging even better than that retinol you have in your medicine cabinet—all without redness and irritation.

the ordinary no brainer set

Image: The Ordinary.

The No-Brainer Set

This skin-smoothing set includes all your dry and aging skin’s BFFs: Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, and Buffet.

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