What’s Retinol, and Why Do You Need It in Your Skincare Routine?

By Belo Medical Group on September 1, 2020

As is the case with many active ingredients, you can’t just add a new one to your skincare routine willy-nilly. Regardless of your skin type, your skin needs time to gradually transition and get used to a new ingredient. You probably did that for your Vitamin C integration. But there’s a lesser-known active ingredient out there that’s transformed the skin of men and women everywhere—retinol! What is it, and how do you incorporate it into your routine? Read on.

What is retinol?

First off, the umbrella term for retinol products is “retinoids,” AKA derivatives of Vitamin A, which is a key ingredient in boosting the turnover of cells. And when cells turn over quicker, dead skin and pigmentation goes away quicker, too, leading to overall clearer, healthier skin. Vitamin A is also a great antioxidant, which means it helps fight free radical damage to reduce the signs of aging.

Dr. Vicki Belo is a huge fan of the stuff. “Apply tretinoin or retinol every day!” she said in a September 2020 interview with The Philippine Tatler. “You should do this from the age of acne, all the way to your seventies, because it dries up oiliness, gets rid of bacteria and normalises skin turnover in your teens. As you get to your thirties, it increases collagen and elastin production.” 

Acne-prone? A retinoid called tretinoin is hailed all over the world for its acne-busting properties. It’s a concentration of pure retinoic acid, making it powerful for clearing moderate to severe acne. Because it’s so strong, it tends to be available via prescription only. Topical retinol products, on the other hand, are readily available in various concentrations and formulas on the market.

How do I include it in my routine?

After cleansing and exfoliating, Dr. Belo personally uses the ZO® Wrinkle + Texture Repair serum in her routine. This high-potency retinol that reactivates the process of skin renewal to restore natural hydration, visibly improving the appearance of wrinkles and refining skin texture. Jess Wilson used the same serum to help clear her quarantine breakout—you can view her routine in full here. This serum contains 0.5% retinol and contains oils and extracts to reduce irritation.

Should you need a stronger serum, the ZO® Retinol Skin Brightener 1% Retinol might be for you. This serum also contains Vitamins C and E to remove existing pigmentation.

How do I maximize its effects?

Dr. Belo (and any dermatologist worth their salt) would strongly advise you to be diligent with your sunscreen application if you have retinol in your routine. (Well, sunscreen should be a must no matter what, but you get it.) Retinoids themselves break down in sunlight, which can render them less effective. That’s why it’s better to apply retinol in the evening to make sure you get the best results. Dr. Belo only uses her retinol serum at night.

Retinol products don’t mix well with certain ingredients. Some people have been known to experience redness or excessive dryness when mixing retinol with alpha and beta hydroxy acids, for example. Before purchasing a ZO® retinol product on The Belo Shop, click here to book an appointment with one of our doctors (or have on IRL by calling 8819-BELO). Want to consult with Dr. Belo herself? You can do that too by clicking here!

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