Kerry Washington Swears By This $30 Gentle, Yet Effective Retinol Serum

"I don't have to put a barrier between the retinol and my skin; I can really just let it do what it does, which is so fantastic."

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Kerry Washington
Kerry Washington. Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Acura

One of the biggest misconceptions about self-care is that spending the day at a spa is the only way to do it. In reality, the act of doing something positive for your well-being can be as easy as taking a few minutes to do a simple, yet effective nighttime skincare routine.

Kerry Washington, Neutrogena ambassador and creative consultant, came to this realization during the COVID-19 pandemic. "In my mind, self-care was a time-consuming commitment," she tells InStyle over Zoom. "Really, self-care is as simple as doing a double cleanse, throwing on a serum, and using a moisturizer and an eye cream. This less-than-five-minute routine doesn't just improve my actual skin, but improves my relationship with myself."

The "holy trifecta" of Washington's current routine includes Neutrogena's new Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Pro+ .5% Power Serum, the brand's highest concentration of retinol with a side of hydrating emollients.

"This new serum is so fantastic because it's our highest concentration of retinol, but it's crazy gentle on the skin," Washington says. "I don't have to put a barrier between the retinol and my skin; I can really just let it do what it does, which is so fantastic."

She's also discovered the benefits of incorporating firming peptides and collagen into her skincare routine, thanks to the brand's Rapid Firming Collection. "I'm so blown away by the impact of the peptides and collagen," she shares. "It supports my skin's natural collagen and helps everything appear more youthful, and like I get more sleep than I'm able to with three kids."

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And lastly, no skincare routine is complete without moisture. Washington says she's taken to experimenting with richer creams at night to really replenish her skin. "Maybe it's because I wasn't going to bed so early because I didn't have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go to set, but I realized when it comes to skincare, I can use those hours to try some products that are a little more rich and deeply moisturizing."

Considering winter (aka dry skin season) is on the horizon, Washington is definitely on to something.

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