So you’ve finally decided to take your skincare regiment to the next level and add in retinol. Finally! Adding retinol into your skincare routine is a serious move towards long-term beauty. Even if you’re still in the shopping phase, you’re on the right track towards healthier skin.

Sometimes adding retinol into your skincare routine can seem like too much trouble; you might not know what it really is and how to choose the right one for you. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right retinol.

Retinol is a form of vitamin A that enhances the production of collagen in your skin and helps even skin texture and pigmentation. Retinol can improve discoloration, acne scars, wrinkles, and shrink pores as well as help reduce acne. The reasons you use retinol, whether as a preventative anti-aging method or to minimize your pore size, will help guide which product you choose. Addressing wrinkles would best be done by a stronger formula, while discoloration can be treated with an over-the-counter formula.

The retinol you can purchase without a prescription lacks retinoic acid, which is the ingredient that does the magic retinol is known for. Instead, over-the-counter retinol is converted into retinoic acid by your skin after application. While it’s a less direct method, it’s been shown to be just as effective, though the results can take longer to appear. Depending on how quickly you want results and how tolerant your skin will be of the more intense prescription products, you might choose Retin-A, which is the prescription version, instead of retinol as found in drugstores.

If your skin is prone to irritation, start with a more mild version of retinol, such as those lacking retinoid acid. Retinol is known to irritate the skin, including redness and peeling, but this is a temporary phase as your skin adjusts. The period of adjustment may last between two or three weeks, so the best solution is just to wait it out, knowing that your skin will return to a calm state soon enough.

Regardless of which formula you choose and why adding retinol to your skincare routine is an excellent step towards many years of healthy and beautiful skin.