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    I Finally Added Retinol To My Skincare Routine, And I Wish I Had Started In My Early Twenties

    All my fellow old millennials, listen up...

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    Back in February, something unthinkable happened to me. I knew it was coming, but it still hit me like a ton of bricks: I turned 30.


    Luckily, I know how time and numbers work and realized the big three-oh was right around the corner a few years ago — but it became real when I noticed some fine lines around my eyes and forehead last year. Panic started setting in.


    OK, OK, I'm being extremely dramatic. There's absolutely nothing wrong with wrinkles or fine lines. Honestly if you don't develop quite a few of them as you age, your life has probably been pretty boring. However, I still wanted to take a few preventative measures and step up my skin care game so I could really feel like I was taking care of myself in my thirties.

    But here's the thing: I have super sensitive baby angel butterfly skin. Like, my face will break out if you just look at it the wrong way. Because of this, I've typically kept my skin care routine pretty simple with just a cleanser and moisturizer. But once those fine lines started to peek through, I knew it was time to add some extra steps and search for more targeted ingredients.

    I've heard literally every single skincare YouTuber and TikToker say you should basically bathe in retinol to keep your skin looking smooth, so I went on a search for a sensitive skin-friendly solution since retinol can be a bit intense and irritating in high doses. I was immediately sold on the well-reviewed CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum ($16.97 on Amazon) since I've had success with the brand in the past.

    BuzzFeed/Daniel Boan

    I'm obsessed with CeraVe's PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (if you need a lightweight, gentle moisturizer — get it NOW), so I figured their serum would be a safe place to start with my retinol journey.

    The serum features a gentle amount of encapsulated retinol, which is meant to stimulate collagen production and speed up skin cell turnover to reveal a brighter, more even appearance. Retinol is known to be a bit irritating, but this formula also features ceramides to restore the skin's moisture barrier, so I felt confident applying it to my ridiculously sensitive skin.

    I was immediately impressed with the serum's lightweight gel-cream consistency that's super easy to spread and basically melts into the skin. I typically apply it every other night after cleansing with my go-to La Roche Posay cleanser, and one and a half pumps is impressively enough to cover my giant face and neck.

    BuzzFeed/Daniel Boan

    When I hear "serum," I tend to think of super sticky and greasy formulas that are a pain to apply, but this basically feels like a normal moisturizer. It also has absolutely zero scent, so it's a great option for anyone who gets irritation at the mere mention of fragrance.

    Unlike a stronger retinol moisturizer I tried before this one, I experienced no redness or irritation even after the first use. My sensitive skin drinks it up without any problems. More importantly, it's made my skin look and feel amazing in the past year. I've noticed my skin tone looks way more even and slightly brighter, and the few pesky breakouts I previously experienced every month have basically disappeared.

    BuzzFeed/Daniel Boan

    I've also been pairing it with the Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream, which has been a brilliant duo for smoothing out those fine lines I previously panicked over.

    But you don't just have to take my word for it: over 12,000 Amazon reviewers are just as obsessed with it. I mean, just look at the before-and-afters!

    Promising review: "I was retinol-shy because my sister had bad experiences growing up (with much more powerful stuff I bet) and I have sensitive skin. Also, I have uneven texture which has not responded to other scrubs or oils. This goes on like a gel, not sticky, I use it every other day, wear sunscreen every day, and have no bad side effects. My skin started to look better, smaller pores, glowing and more even, in a week. I would recommend this to anyone." —ssstephanie

    Many reviewers have noticed reduced acne scarring after using it for just a few weeks.

    Promising review: "I love this product! It has greatly improved my skin texture and evened out my tone, my stubborn acne marks are finally starting to fade, and I have no new breakouts. I’ve never found a retinol based cream that doesn’t make my skin dry and flaky but this one caused no dryness or flakiness whatsoever! I’ve always had combination acne prone skin and when I use this I don’t get any new breakouts and my skin is so smooth and soft." —Olivia and Chase

    Other reviewers have even seen a reduction in hyperpigmentation since the retinol helps to resurface new skin cells.

    Promising review: "I have generally smooth skin but a few acne scars that just wouldn’t quit. I tried several vitamin C serums to reduce the hyperpigmentation and nothing seemed to make a dent. Started using this product on my whole face and a little bit as spot treatment on scars and in two weeks the dark spots are almost entirely gone it’s like magic!! Nothing I have used has been impactful at all and this makes my skin look brand new can not recommend enough." —bb

    I thought all those skincare vloggers were overreacting with their love of retinol — but I totally get it now. I'd like to fill up an empty swimming pool with this stuff and dive right in. So if you're looking to begin your retinol journey, the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum is the perfect place to start., Daniel Boan/BuzzFeed

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go thrive in my extremely, ridiculously early thirties.

    Ready to give it a go? Get the CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum from Amazon for $16.97.

    The serum is currently a bit backordered but is scheduled to ship within 1–3 weeks — totally worth the wait!

    Me after slathering my face in retinol:


    Reviews have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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