Woman dipping finger in lotion jar

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Using Products That Don't Actually Work

You've probably heard the call from dermatologists to use retinoids, both in the fight against aging and acne. So, you pick one up, thinking you're doing all you can for your skin to fight acne. Problem is, "many women think they're using a retinoid but they're not. There's a big difference between a prescription-strength and an OTC," says Hooper. (Most sold as OTCs are retinols.) In general, there are no rules about the concentration, stability or efficacy of retinols used in over-the-counter products, she adds. There's one exception: Differin, the first retinoid to be sold OTC. "There are rigorously tested, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies that show it's effective for acne. Almost no one can go wrong picking up a tube of Differin," says Hooper.