Beauty fads may come and go, but retinoids refuse to fade from the spotlight. “Even after decades of research, retinoids are still the gold standard in anti-aging,” says David E. Bank, MD, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY.

Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, boost collagen production and increase skin cell turnover to treat lines and wrinkles, discolorations, and acne. When incorporating them into your skin care routine, you’ll have two basic choices: a prescription retinoid from a dermatologist or an over-the-counter retinol, a less potent type. A dermatologist can help assess your complexion and recommend the product—Rx or OTC—that will best address your skin concerns.

Today, the new generation of retinoids is kinder and gentler, containing a host of hydrators and skin-soothers. Even better news: A 2009 study in the journal Skin Pharmacology and Physiology suggests that retinols are effective at fighting the signs of aging in smaller doses than previously believed, so there’s less risk of side effects. To help you pick the best product for your skin, we’ve put together a retinoid rundown of the latest and greatest, with tips on how to use them to solve your biggest skin issues. Whether you’re consulting with a dermatologist or choosing an OTC on your own, these recommendations can help you get started.