Debunking Retinol Myths with Dr Dennis Gross

Are you already using retinol? How it works? We talk to the dermatologist and founder of his eponymous line Dr Dennis Gross on its latest line Advanced Retinol + Ferulic which tackles the insecurities of your skin.

If you’re a skincare newbie or curious about this hottest ingredient, you’ll be happy to find that including retinol in your skincare routine works wonders for the complexion. In short, retinol is the ultimate anti-aging miracle potion.

Formulated with vitamin A, retinol is a type of retinoid that helps stimulate collagen production while increasing the rate of cell turnover in the skin. As your skin gets used to the ingredient, the product will target and reduce clogged pores for a smoother complexion. Not only that, it helps in treating acne, prevents wrinkles, brightens dull skin, plumps the skin and also fades dark spots.

[All images credit: Dr Dennis Gross]

But how is the Advanced Retinol + Ferulic line different from other retinol products on the market? Thanks to the herbal ingredients, Bakuchiol and Rambutan, the latest Phyto-Retinol Blend formulation was born. There are four products to note from this unique innovation: the Texture Renewal Serum, the Triple Correction Eye Contour Serum, the Night Anti-Wrinkle Treatment and the Night Texture Renewal Peel.

“The new Advanced Retinol + Ferulic line combines retinol with ingredients that strengthen the moisture barrier and are anti-inflammatory. It’s the perfect introduction for anyone new to retinol – the formula gives great results without irritation. If you are still in doubt, there is nothing wrong with making your way up to everyday use, ”he explains.

Dr Dennis Gross retinol

Formulated for all ages and skin conditions, this skincare line helps strengthen the skin without any signs of irritation. “By adding Bakuchiol to our formulation, it maintains the skin’s moisture barrier, while retinol stimulates cell renewal and our skin’s natural production of collagen. Rambutan leaf extract is anti-inflammatory and helps reduce redness and irritation. It also helps improve skin elasticity and support collagen production, ”Dr. Dennis Gross shares.

The key is to create formulas that can overlap. “By combining retinol with Bakuchiol, we have removed the possibility of irritation or redness that retinol has often caused in the past, especially for dry or sensitive skin. When you use Retinol and Bakuchiol together, you get double the collagen production without any irritation.

Coming from someone who has never used retinol before, I dig deeper with Dr. Dennis Gross on the latest range and the incredible benefits of starting your retinol journey. Scroll down to read further.

The Advanced Retinol + Ferulic range will be launched exclusively at Sephora Thailand and in store from the 7th from October 2021.


It’s common for people to be afraid of mixing retinol with other AHAs / BHAs – what do you think of that?

You absolutely can incorporate AHA / BHA and retinol into your routine. They work in two different ways on the skin: alpha and beta hydroxy acids loosen the glue that holds dead skin cells on the skin’s surface, exfoliating the top layer of the skin. Retinol works by stimulating cell renewal in the deep layers of the skin, pushing skin cells to the surface. They both have important benefits for the skin.

If you’re worried about layering retinol directly on top of AHAs and BHAs, you can use one product in the morning and the other in the evening. In the morning, I prefer AHA / BHA, like my daily Alpha Beta peels, to reveal healthy-looking skin by removing dead, dull skin cells lurking on the surface. It is also an excellent preparation for applying makeup. Applying retinol at night will support our body’s natural cell renewal process and prevent additional sensitivity from sun exposure.

For people who typically identify as having combination and / or oily skin, what advice would you share with them?

Retinol is a great ingredient if you have oily or combination skin – it was originally invented to treat acne. Oily / combination skin can be attributed to overproduction of sebum, leading to congestion and rashes. Retinol stimulates the production of new skin cells, which helps remove dead skin cells that could potentially clog pores. Continued use will prevent rashes from occurring, reduce scarring, and reduce the appearance of pore size and skin texture.

Dr dennis raw retinol
Credits for all images: Dr Dennis Gross

For those who have never tried retinol, how do you suggest getting the product onto their skin? Is it recommended for daily use?

You can start by applying the product two or three times a week and, if you don’t see any redness or irritation, increase the use to daily. Remember to use physical sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day – you should do that anyway. But especially when using retinol, an all-physical 30-50 SPF sunscreen will protect that skin from potential photosensitivity and irritation.

As every woman faces hormonal acne, what are the best healing ingredients to look for and can retinol help clear acne?

Retinol is a fantastic ingredient for treating texture issues and adult acne. Retinol also increases cell turnover inside the pores, which helps unblock them and prevent them from repeatedly congesting while clearing acne to prevent future breakouts.

Other ingredients that are great for hormonal acne are monk pepper, which prevents hormones from attaching to sebaceous glands deep in the pores, preventing them from triggering excessive and thick production of trapped oil in the pores. Vitamin C is also another great ingredient when it comes to healing acne scars. It stimulates the production of collagen and neutralizes free radicals, which heals scars while preventing new ones from forming.

How do you feel about adding lots of steps to your skincare routine (e.g. Korea’s 10-step trend)? As a dermatologist, do you think this is necessary?

I am a big supporter of the formulation with a cocktail of ingredients. When using products that combine multiple actives, a 10-step routine is not necessary. As a dermatologist, I recommend that your skin care routine consists of a non-stripping cleanser, a serum targeting your top skin care concerns, an eye treatment, a moisturizer according to your skin type and sunscreen. You can always add a secondary serum to replace with your evening routine or even an LED treatment. The most important thing to remember is consistency is the key. I find that patients with long routines sometimes fail to be consistent.

Dr dennis raw retinol
Credits for all images: Dr Dennis Gross

Finally, a common perception is that retinol is too harsh and thins your skin. What’s one of the most frustrating myths you’ve heard about retinol?

Retinol thickens the skin! This is how it leads to a beautiful strengthening. It does the opposite of thinning the skin. Retinol, especially with Bakuchiol, thickens the epidermis and helps to remove fine lines. Then the retinol, with the help of the rambutan, penetrates deeper into the layer of skin called the dermis and further stimulates the production of collagen, which smooths out deeper wrinkles. The result is thickening both – the epidermis and the dermis – for excellent thickening of the skin, without thinning.

Myth: The higher the percentage, the better the retinol produced

False: Among patients in my practice, I have noticed a massive misconception that higher percentages of retinol = the best possible treatment. Often times, higher percentages of retinol damage the moisture barrier, resulting in dander, redness, and irritation. Rather than focusing on the specific percentage, it’s crucial to take the big picture and look at the ingredients incorporated into the retinol formulation.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.

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