We at the Hamilton Face Clinic are HUGE fans of Retinol. We especially love the ZO Skin Health 0.5% Retinol Skin Brightener and Correcting Cream.

Low dose retinol is the star ingredient in many anti-aging creams (starting at 0.01%). Many of you will have already used these non prescription products. If your skin has reacted well, now might be the time to move up to prescription-strength serums which contain at least 0.5 to 1% Retinol.


Retinol (vitamin A) is an anti-ageing ingredient. Any skin type can use retinol. But fair or sensitive skin types should be extra cautious as it may be harder for you to adjust to its potency.


Retinol helps unclog pores, exfoliate and smooth the skin. It also reduces the appearance of pigmentation. It actually sinks into your skin and speeds up cell turnover, causing your body to produce fresher, smoother skin. ” You won’t see results overnight—it will take 3-4 months of regular nightly use- but you will see improvement in skin texture” says Dr. Mark Hamilton.


‘Retinoid Reaction’ will cause redness and peeling for the first 2-6 weeks of use. This is just an adjustment period. The tightness and irritation does go away. This process is called Exfoliation. Over time your dermis (deeper layer) will become thicker and more robust with less lines. Retinol is applied ONLY at night. ** You can apply makeup as usual each day**

Retinoid Reaction

Retinoid Reaction


Tip 1: Choose the right strength.

Begin with a low concentration so your skin can become accustomed to the effect. Retinol can cause irritation if used too frequently or if the formula is too strong for your skin.

Tip 2: Less is more

Start slowly—begin with just one night a week and gradually move up to every other night (for sensitive skin) or every night (for tough skin)

Tip 3: Wait for your skin to dry before use.

This is important, because if your skin is at all damp, the retinol will be able to absorb more deeply into your skin and might cause irritation.

Tip 4: Protect you skin.

If your skin feels skin red and flaky you can mix the retinol with your moisturizer. Or for an extra layer of protection, you can apply a thin layer of face oil on top. The oil acts as a sealant, locking in hydration and further preventing negative side effects.

Tip 5: Use Sunscreen. ALWAYS wear SPF 30+ every morning when you’re using retinol, as your skin can become susceptible to sun damage during this time.


Don’t over apply—you’ll only end up burning the face off yourself.  When starting retinol, you can choose to use it a couple times a week, and gradually increase to every night, or you can dilute it with your night crème so it’s not as potent. This way you can dip you toe into the water without diving in head first.

Don’t Stop At Your Face – Never neglect your neck or décolletage, which are notorious for showing the signs of aging. If those areas seem too sensitive for your current formula, add a squirt of moisturizer before smoothing it on



1) Retinol works on a cellular level, not just a topical level like most skincare products do. It will resurface your skin and transform your complexion with continued use.

2) Not all Retinols are the same. Dr. Mark suggests starting with 0.5% retinol and then moving up to a higher strength after a year. Regardless of which retinoid you choose, know that they’re all effective in the long run.

3) Use only at night and wear SPF every day. Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the benefits of the product. “It should not be used when you will be spending extended time sunbathing in direct sunlight,” says Dr. Mark.


This stuff really works but is not for the faint hearted. During the first 2-4 weeks of use, Retinol will trigger some dryness, slight burning and mild peeling of your skin. If this happens, try applying your moisturizer first, followed by your retinol, to reduce its absorption rate slightly. When you feel that you can tolerate it, switch back to layering the retinol first. ZO Brightener will definitely brighten your skin and correct pigmentation.


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