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Antiaging has always been quite the buzz word, but it's not necessarily self-explanatory. You might recognize the names of "antiaging ingredients," but not know how to put them together or when you're supposed to apply them. In a nutshell, the skin-care industry can make finding an antiaging routine that actually works feel daunting — when in reality, it can be made comically simple. You really only need two ingredients to bolster up any antiaging routine. Use them consistently, and you'll be rewarded. Disclaimer: This is all said with the assumption that you're already using SPF on your face. Because that's a non-negotiable.
So, what is the hardest-working antiaging dynamic duo? Retinol and vitamin C. Simple, easy to remember, and doable on a budget. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that protects, repairs, and brightens skin, while addressing concerns like skin texture, dullness, and signs of aging. On the other hand, retinol is a vitamin A derivative that helps skin cell turnover as you snooze, revealing younger-looking, fresher skin over time and a reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. Both products can also be helpful for those with congested pores or blemish-prone skin. Basically, I can almost guarantee that if you begin using these two products consistently for a couple months, you'll notice a difference in your skin. Feel free to pen a thank you note (we do love those, don't we?) later.
Firstly, don't get scared. There are retinol products and retinol alternatives even for the more sensitive of skin types. Same goes for vitamin C. Secondly, choosing a retinol and vitamin C serum that fits your skin is important. For that, research is key. However, you can start by looking through my recommendations for The 10 Best Drugstore Retinol Creams On the Market, as well as The Top-Rated Vitamin C Serums on Amazon. In general, you want to work your way up to using a high-potency product by starting with using it only twice weekly for a week and bumping up one additional day until you're using each daily. Vitamin C should be applied in the morning, followed by sunscreen. Retinol is best used at night. As time goes on and you nail down the basics, you can even add in more products and ingredients as you see fit.
If you're looking to start a skin-care routine with retinol and vitamin C — or tweak your current routine — look no further. Here are two of my favorite combinations of retinol and vitamin C products to achieve optimal results, based on years of testing and research.
Versed Auto-Save Advanced Restoring Serum
Containing the holy trifecta of ferulic acid, phloretin, and stabilized vitamin C, this serum is one of the best affordable serums out there. (You might recognize those ingredients from a cult-favorite $160 serum that shall not be named. This is a dupe.) Apply in the morning, follow with moisturizer and SPF, and say hello to super glowy skin. The brand's advanced collection also contains a fabulous restoring moisturizer worth checking out.
BUY IT: $24.99; target.com
L'Oreal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Night Serum with 0.3% Pure Retinol
To pair with Versed's vitamin C serum, I couldn't choose anything other than this drugstore serum that's been totally formulated and vetted by a team of dermatologists. Everything from the potency to the bottle is designed with the user in mind, so say goodbye to fine lines. Use at night, followed by a gentle moisturizer with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides. I recommend trusty CeraVe.
BUY IT: $27.99; amazon.com
Olehenrikson Banana Bright Vitamin C Serum
This is one of my favorite vitamin C serums of all time for one particular reason: It's more of a multitasker than your mother, which is also why I can justify the higher price tag. No need to invest in more steps for your morning skin care. Not only does it contain 15 percent vitamin C (very good potency), but also hyaluronic acid for hydration and PHAs, which are chemical exfoliants that get rid of dead skin cells and improve your skin tone and texture even more.
BUY IT: $65; sephora.com
Murad Retinol Youth Renewal Night Cream
If you're looking for something that's effective in as little as a month, as well as not too harsh on the skin as some other creams and serums, this one is a great bet for many skin types, including those with dry skin. I choose it as a perfect pair with Olehenrikson's vitamin C serum. The formula boasts the brand's Retinol Tri-Active Technology to help fight the appearance of deep-set fine lines and boost overall radiance, and the brand recommends eventually pairing it with the matching serum for results that are three times better.
BUY IT: $82; amazon.com