Retinol Products And Other Crazy Things I Learned From A Dermatologist


True story – I’ve been apprehensive about trying retinol based skincare products for years. I’ve heard many horror stories from friends who found themselves red, peeling, or having patches of dry skin along the way. But then I’d read about women who had skincare breakthroughs and discovered the path to perfect skin, via retinol creams.

I had many questions, so when I had the opportunity to have a face to face meeting with the brilliant and beautiful Dr. Monika Kiripolsky, MD, I jumped at the chance. As a board certified dermatologist with the legendary Obagi Skin Health Center in Beverly Hills, she knows what celebrities are using to keep themselves beautiful, and she knows what regular people should be doing to get their skin in tip top shape. Dr. Kiripolsky introduced me to the Zo Skin Health line of products – formulated by Dr. Zein Obagi to be supremely effective for the everyday consumer.

Dr. Kiripolsky also dropped some gems of knowledge about dermatology, giving me specific advice for my age and skin type. Some of what I learned was truly surprising. I’ve been doing skincare wrong this whole time! Here are 6 crazy things I learned from my meeting with Dr. Kiripolsky.

  1. You should be using retinol by age 20. To quote Dr. Kiripolsky, “Anyone over 20 should be using a retinoid product every night.” Retinoid products should only be used at night.
  2. Yes, there will be peeling and redness and dry skin for 6 weeks. Dermatologists say suck it up and get over it. “Everyone goes through the dry, red, peeling phase – you go through it and purge the bad skin. You’re regenerating new cells.” Give it 6 weeks of commitment.
  3. At a dermatology convention you can't tell how old anyone is, because they've all got access to the best fillers and also, they all use retinol for their skin.
  4. You should never use a product that is JUST moisturizer. It has to be effective in some capacity. Mere moisturizers just make your skin dependent on moisturizers when it should be producing its own moisture. Make sure your daily moisturizer includes SPF or valuable vitamins to your skin, otherwise reconsider it.
  5. Oil = inflammation = hyperpigmentation. That’s Dr. Kiripolsky’s formula for the root of many skincare issues. When the skin produces too much oil, it leads to acne which leads to dark spots. She says many who have had issues with too much oil have found a successful solution with low dosages of Accutane – she says many celebrities are on low doses of the medicine to keep their skin looking ideal for the camera.
  6. OK so you should start with serious skincare products by age 20. When should you start a skincare regimen in general? Dr. Kiripolsky says ten years old. “That’s when you start having skin damage, when you need SPF to protect you, when hormones start changing and acne begins. With each decade, your skin changes and your skin care needs change,” she says.

For my specific skincare needs, Dr. Kiripolsky recommended I look into Zo Skin Health’s Ossential Growth Factors Serum, and she advised me to make daily use of their Oclipse Sunscreen + Primer SPF 30. I’m ready for that, and now I feel more informed about retinoids.

Have you tried retinol? What’s your advice?

Contributing Editor, Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of, one of the first blogs to celebrate the beauty of natural hair and ladies of all skin tones and sizes. Affectionately called the Godmother of Brown Beauty Blogging, Patrice takes her readers inside unique beauty, fashion and cultural experiences.