Retinols have long been touted as one of the most effective treatments for increasing collagen in the skin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, fighting acne and evening out pigmentation. They are, said Murad Alam, a dermatologist in Chicago and president of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, “the best-studied and most-evidence-backed topical medications for reducing the visible signs of aging due to sun exposure.”

While the benefits of retinols may not be news, the boomlet of products laced with them is. According to the market research firm NPD, sales of retinols in department stores and specialty retailers like Sephora, Ulta and Blue Mercury in the United States jumped 27 percent last year, while the overall category (clinical ingredients) increased by 7 percent.

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