Seems like I can only do the Neutrogena retinol every other night. By mistake, I recently picked up the Ageless Intensives one when I went to re-purchase - I didn't have my glasses with me LOL and somehow I picked up this box instead of the one next to it with the regular retinol(the cheaper one)and I've ended up using it 3 times so I can't really return it. I think this is STRONGER than the regular one, as I experimented to see what applying it 2 nights in a row would be like. No go - irritation was starting to show up already, so to use this tube up, I'm going to have to do the every other night deal like I was doing with the other one. I alternate with CeraVe PM. Since I'm not using a Rx retinoid, I don't think the sun situation is as extreme. I do however wear my CeraVe AM SPF 30 daily though, over plain Cetaphil Cream(the cream being applied to the drier areas toward outside of face and around eyes only. I think I get the benefit of some lower-level(thus much slower-acting anti-aging)this way. But after I use up this tube of the Ageless Intensives, I might go back to the original Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream - it's cheaper for one thing, and I can't really see much difference between that and the Ageless Intensives other than the latter is somewhat more moisturizing which might not be a bad thing. I'll reserve judgement for when I've gone through the tube of the Ageless Intensives.
As far as Vitamin C products, I haven't had much luck with them. I tried a few serums, and they all either broke me out or irritated. Then I tried the DIY route that lots of people swear by for making their own Vit. C serum. Again, no go. Either sticky, grainy, or irritating, even with just a little bit of C and doing different mixing techniques.
It seems that my skin only likes a very narrow range of products, like many who have reactive skin of one sort or another. Many of us in this category really can't get very far into traditional anti-agers, so basic moisturizing, a sunblock that our skin will tolerate, and a mild active, if any, are the way to go. That dermatologist is right about those three things, whatever level one is going for. More resistant skins can take stronger versions of all these.