Why This Ingredient Is The 'Gold Standard' In Anti-Aging (VIDEO)

In recent years, retinoid skin creams have been one of the most buzzed-about products in the beauty market. What exactly is this anti-aging ingredient -– and do you really need it?

"A retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that is the gold standard for improving skin,"says O, The Oprah Magazine Beauty Director Val Monroe. "It improves elasticity, it helps to regenerate collagen, it diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, it's a great exfoliator."

Originally, retinoid was used for treating acne. "Researchers noticed that when they were treating people with acne, that the people who were using it were getting much better skin tone and wrinkles and fine lines were disappearing," Monroe says.

Unlike some anti-aging products, Monroe says the use of retinoids should begin early on. "Almost every dermatologist I've ever spoken to has said that it's a good idea to start using a retinoid in your 20s and continue to use it for the rest of your life."

To try prescription-grade retinoid, you'll need a visit to your dermatologist's office. For the drug store version, Monroe says to look for "retinol" in the ingredients. "With a prescription version you can look for improvements in about three months. Over the counter takes a little bit longer because the retinol is not quite as strong as the prescription version, and so it's going to take three to six months for you to begin to start seeing an improvement in your skin," Monroe says.

Those with sensitive skin may find that retinoids make your skin dry and flaky. "But it's a good idea to keep using it because ultimately, you're going to see an improvement," Monroe says. "You can get around the irritation aspect of it by using it every other night or you can even put a moisturizer on top of the retinoid after you've applied it."

The one caveat: Don't use this product if you're pregnant. Otherwise, Monroe says retinoid cream is great for most anyone looking for a youthful glow.

Beauty director Val Monroe also dishes on the 5 best new makeup products to buy.

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