The Best Retinol Serums for Anyone Who Doesn't Know Where to Start

Fact: Retinol reigns supreme as one of skincare's star ingredients. You've probably seen this little word written on countless product labels time and again and wondered, What is this stuff? Same. To clear up the confusion, retinol is essentially a vitamin A derivative used in skincare products for anti-aging and acne purposes. It's been proven to be an acne-fighting ingredient that diminishes the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots, and sun spots. It's known to work fast and effectively, which is why you see it in so many products. (To get a full breakdown of this hero ingredient, take a look at our detailed retinol guide.)

We're huge advocates of incorporating retinol serums into your routine to nourish and hydrate your skin with hardworking ingredients. Celebrity facialist Renée Rouleau once told us exactly how to apply retinol serum, which should be to your entire face and neck. "Wait three minutes and apply a small amount of moisturizer, if needed," says Rouleau. "Use the retinol serum for two nights on, one night off, alternating with an exfoliating acid serum and a nourishing treatment serum.” This schedule will deeply penetrate your skin.

There are a few retinol serums we can stand behind at Byrdie. We also tapped top dermatologists to share their all-time favorites. Find out the most game-changing serums and why they're winners below.