Best Skincare Hacks to Minimise Irritations from Retinol & Best Korean Products to Pair with Retinol

Retinol is Great! It visibly smoothens texture, brightens skin tone and improves wrinkles! Click here to read how to pick YOUR retinol. Hands up if you started using retinol to improve skin, but now your skin is worse than ever with breakouts and redness. I know, I know... This can be SO frustrating, especially when you've got your expectation so up high from all those skin transformation videos on Tiktok. But don't give up so soon!  This initial worsening of your skin condition may be due to something called "skin purging", which is totally normal! Keep reading so find out what "skin purging" is and how to manage it! 

What is Skin Purging?

When you first start using a retinol product, you may notice that you are breaking out more than usual or that your pores seem to be clogged. Of this is your skin, then you are most likely going through what is called 'Skin purging', or what I like to call it the 'retinol uglies'! As bad as it sounds, you shouldn't be too worried as long as you know why it happens and how you can manage it! 

This can happen because retinol increases cell turnover, which means that the skin sheds dead skin cells and oil more rapidly. As a result, clogged pores and blemishes may all come to the surface (causing breakouts) before they clear up and reveal a clear skin complexion. 

How Long Does Skin Purging Last?

The skin purging process can vary from person to person, and it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to clear up completely. It's important to be patient during this time and not give up on the retinol product too soon. It's also essential to use sunscreen during the day because retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. Explore Best Korean sunscreens that can be used while using retinol. 

Tips for Managing Skin Purging

If you're experiencing skin purging when using a retinol product, there are a few things you can do to manage the process and make it more comfortable:

  1. Start Slowly: If you're new to retinol, it's best to start slowly and build up your usage gradually. Begin by using the product once or twice a week and gradually increase the frequency over time. I followed the 'Rule of 3's' coined by Dr. Shah:  for the first month, use it every 3rd day; for the second month, use it every 2nd day and for the third month and so on, use it everyday! 

  2. Use a Moisturizer: Retinol can be drying to the skin, so it's essential to use a moisturizer to help keep your skin hydrated.

  3. Be Gentle: Avoid using harsh scrubs or exfoliants on your skin while you're experiencing skin purging. Instead, use a gentle cleanser and avoid touching or picking at your skin.

  4. Consult a Professional: If you're experiencing severe or prolonged skin irritation, it's best to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional to adjust your skincare routine accordingly.

  5. Use certain ingredients: to minimize irritation and enhance the results, for example ceramide, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and Cica. Keep reading to explore best selling Korean skincare products that work wonders with retinol...

  Best Korean Products to Pair with Retinol:

1. Ceramide + Retinol = Keeps skin Moisturized

Retinol has its drawbacks, one of which is that it can make your skin feel dry. Using ceramide moisturizers with retinol helps combat the issue of dryness.  You can apply the products one after the other or go ahead to mix them together first. Below are some bestselling Korean products that contain Ceramide:

Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream 80g

If you're looking for a moisturizer to pair with your retinol product, the Cosrx Balancium Comfort Ceramide Cream is a great option to consider. This lightweight yet rich cream is specifically designed to soothe, moisturize, and soften irritated skin, making it the perfect complement to retinol's exfoliating properties. With its blend of three types of ceramides, this moisturizer helps to strengthen the skin barrier and regenerate damaged skin. It also contains medical grade Centella Asiatica, which helps to restore balance between oil and moisture in the skin and improve skin elasticity. And with its matte balm texture, it's suitable for both oily and dry skin types, providing comfort and moisture that lasts up to 72 hours. Best of all, this moisturizer is EWG Green Grade, meaning it's free from harmful ingredients and safe to use for all ages and skin types. Shop here

RNW Der Concentrate Ceramide Plus 30ml



Der Concentrate Ceramide from RNW is one of the best selling ceramide ampoule in Korea loved by many Korean women because of its affordable price and unbeatable results! This highly concentrated ampoule is packed with 5 types of ceramides and 8 peptides, making it a powerhouse in protecting and strengthening the skin barrier. With the RNW Der Concentrate Ceramide Plus, you can protect and strengthen your skin barrier while maximizing the benefits of your retinol product. Shop here

2. Niacinamide + Retinol = Holy grail for acne skin! 

If you're using Retinol with Niacinamide, then you are on the right track! 

Combining the power of niacinamide and retinol can be a game-changer for acne-prone skin! While Retinol can promote cell turnover and unclog pores, niacinamide can reduce redness, inflammation and hyperpigmentation. Click here to read more about Niacinamide! When used together, your acne should be cleared and acne scars will fade! 

If you're using these ingredients in separate products, it's recommended to apply niacinamide first and to then follow with retinol. Because applying niacinamide first can help protect your skin from the effects of retinol. Below are some bestselling Korean products that contain Niacinamide:

Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum : Propolis + Niacinamide 30ml

If you're using retinol in your skincare routine, the Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum is a great addition to help balance and care for your acne-prone skin! This serum contains 60% propolis extract, which is effective for hydrating the skin and improving inflamed skin. Click here to explore the benefits of propolis!  It also has 2% niacinamide to help maintain the oil and moisture balance of the skin. Infused with 0.5% BHA, this serum removes sebum and wastes accumulated in the pores. If you have oily skin, you can use this product before apply retinol, however if you have dry or sensitive skin, you are recommended to use this in the morning while using retinol at night! 

The Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum is cruelty-free and fragrance and essential oil-free, making it a great option for those with sensitive skin. The serum has a dense texture like honey but is not sticky and gives a moisture glow immediately upon application! Shop here

RNW Der Concentrate Niacinamide Plus 30ml

RNW Der Concentrate Niacinamide Plus is perfect to use with retinol to treat acnes and acne scars! This brightening ampoule is formulated with a high concentration of 5% niacinamide and 100ppm of tranexamic acid that work together to reduce the appearance of acne scar/hyperpigmentation and even out skin tone. This powerful combination also helps to improve the overall texture and complexion of your skin, leaving it looking brighter and healthier. In addition, this serum is enriched with glutathione and ascorbyl glucoside using RNW technology, which ensures that the skin is healthy and well-protected against damage. The texture of this ampoule is super light and fresh which is great for all skin types! Shop here

Phyto Niacin Whitening Essence 50ml

Phyto Niacin Whitening Essence is one of the most popular whitening essence in Korean at the moment! It is packed with niacinamide and vitamin C derivatives which are both great with retinol to give a radiant, dewy complexion! It is also infused with bamboo sap, hyaluronic acid to hydrate and sooth, making the skin so soft and supple! Shop now

3. Hyaluronic acid + Retinol = Reduce dryness & irritation

Whenever I use retinol, my skin always seem to be dry and sometimes even flaky and irritated! I would get these red and dry patches on my skin which were so annoying. One way to combat this is to use retinol in conjunction with hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid  helps to hydrate and plump the skin. When used together with retinol, it can help to balance out any dryness or irritation that may occur.

To use these two ingredients together, start by applying your retinol product first. Give it a few minutes to absorb into the skin, and then follow up with a hyaluronic acid serum or moisturizer. This will help to seal in the moisture and hydration, leaving your skin feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated. Below are some bestselling Korean products that contain Hyaluronic Acid: 

BOH Vitamin Hyaluronic Gel Cream 70ml

This hyaluronic gel-cream contains 10 layers of hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate and protect the skin after using retinol. It also delivering 12 different vitamin complexes to restore skin vitality.

I don't know about you, but me myself is a huge fan of gel cream, and I fell in love with this product since the first time I've used it! It's soft, it's watery and it's cooling and refreshing on the skin! I like to apply a huge blob of it after using retinol and wake up with the softest and brightest skin! Shop now I was such a huge fan of this cream that I ended up buying the entire set, shown below:

BOH Vitamin Hyaluronic Skincare Set 3-Piece Set

Honestly, you must buy this set if you are a skincare newbie that just recently started using retinol. As powerful as it is, you must be extra careful with the ingredients you use with retinol. This set is just perfect as it come with the toner, lotion and gel-cream which you could easily incorporate with your retinol of choice. 

It is formulated with 8 layers of hyaluronic acid to attract moisture to the skin, Vita-Ion Liposome (a mix of vitamins) to give nourishment to the skin and help brighten it  with and Niacinamide to tighten pores. Shop here

Clio Veganwear Hyaluronic Serum Cushion SPF 45, PA++ 

Yes, our skin could be a drier than usual when we've added retinol to our skincare regime, so our normal foundation could appear a bit...dry too! Clio Veganwear Hyaluronic Serum Cushion is here to  your savior! As you can tell by it's name, this baby ain't playing about containing hyaluronic acid.  It is PACKED with Vegan hyaluronic acid™ which will give the skin this illuminous, glowing finish! Even when your skin is super dry! 

Now you may wonder, if it's so moisturizing, the coverage must be mediocre. Well, you're actually underestimating this cushion! I was shook by the coverage when I applied it for the first time, my blemishes were gone after a few taps! This cushion also provides your skin with UV protection, brightening and wrinkle improvement! Shop here

Clio Veganwear Hyaluronic Serum Cushion comes in three shades: 

Neogen Hyal Glow Rose Essence 160ml

Neogen Hyal Glow Rose Essence is packed with 8 types of hyaluronic acid and 3 types of Damask rose which provides the skin with a powerful boost of hydration when its feeling 'thirsty' after retinol!

This is actually one of my favorite toner from Neogen! The texture, the natural scent and the way it makes my skin so supple and calmed! Whenever my skin is feeling dry and tightened,  I like to put some of this toner onto a cotton pad and gently wipe my face with it and leave the cotton pad in for further absorption! Shop here

4. Vitamin C + Retinol =  Radiant Skin!

This is actually my personal favorite combo of all time! My skin reacts so well when I use these two together, giving me this bright and glowing skin complexion! Using retinol and vitamin C together in your skincare routine can be a powerful combination for promoting healthy, radiant skin. Retinol is known for its ability to promote cell turnover and improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C, on the other hand, is a potent antioxidant that can help to brighten the skin and protect it against environmental damage.

To use these two ingredients together, start by applying your vitamin C product in the morning. Give it a few minutes to absorb into the skin, and then follow up with a retinol product in the evening. This will help to ensure that your skin is getting the benefits of both ingredients without causing any irritation or sensitivity. If you're new to using either of these ingredients, it's best to start with a lower concentration and gradually work your way up to avoid any potential irritation. Below are some bestselling Korean products that contain Vitamin C:

Green Tangerine Vita C Toner Pad Plus (70 Pads)

It's hard to stick with the same skincare product, especially when you are a skincare enthusiast. If you know, you know... But surprisingly, I actually managed to finish the Green Tangerine Vita C Toner Pad Plus (70 Pads) within three months, because it is just so...good!

Every single piece of this toner pad is soaked with Goodal Fresh Green Tangerine Vitamin C toner!  It offers a 5-in-1 effect that delivers vitality, moisture, even skin texture, removes impurities, and acts as a booster. I use one to two pieces of this toner pad in the morning in place of regular toner, and at night I use my retinol. It is important not to use this Vitamin c rich toner pad with retinol, because they are both very strong ingredients; however it is fine to use Vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night! Shop here

Medi-Peel Dr. Vitamin Essence Sun Cream 50ml

Here is a sunscreen that I always recommend to those who are using retinols! MEDI-PEEL Dr. Vitamin Essence Sun Cream comes with 7 kinds of green fruits and 7 kinds of vitamins to make your skin lively and healthy! The essence-like texture is so silky and is perfect to use under make up! Shop here

5. Cica + Retinol = Soothed and Smoothed!

For thousands of years, Asian countries have been using Cica (also known as Tiger grass) for wound healing and anti-inflammation. If you have sensitive skin, or you just want to play safe when using retinol, Cica is your go-to ingredient as “Cica’s soothing properties can improve the tolerability of these potentially irritating skincare ingredients”! 

You might have heard about the Innisfree Retinol Cica Repair ampoule before, It's probably a good product, but I have better recommendations for you that Korean girls actually use! 

Rovectin Cica Care Clearing Ampoule 30ml

Using this Cica Care Clearing Ampoule before applying retinol is a game-changer! This is a Vegan calming ampoule with 73 % high concentration of Cicaand Calamine to soothe irritated and sensitized skin. It is also packed with patented Madecassoside that improves uneven skin tone and inflammatory pigmentation. Shop here

Skin Essentials Dr. Mask Cica 5pcs

This is one of my favorited facemask of 2023! Because it is pure magic! One sheet of this will actually make my redness, itchiness and burning-sensation go away. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, use a piece of this face mask before you apply retinol, trust me, you will see the difference!

It removes dead skin cells and revitalizes the skin to give you a brightened and dewy effect. It contains Calamine, known as a “magical pink powder,” is used as an irritation relief ingredient by soothing redness caused by bumps, breakouts, and hormones, making it a great hormonal acne product. Plant based antioxidant madecassoside revitalizes sensitive and reduces the appearance of scars and dark spots. It also contains planted based BHA ingredients exfoliates dead cells without any irritation. Shop here

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