Are K-beauty retinol products more gentle than Western ones? | The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum Review

Wednesday 2 February 2022

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

Retinol is all around us in skincare lately. It became a trendy ingredient that every brand seems to try to incorporate in their skincare lines just like bakuchiol. The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum is one of the Kbeauty retinol treatments available on the market. Korean retinol-based products are usually told to be weaker than western products, but I still had to give a try to The Face Shop & Dr Belmeur  

Every year has a skincare trend, in 2021 retinol and bakuchiol were top ingredients. In 2022 many skincare experts and bloggers, including myself (an esthetician) expect Tremella, more fermented ingredients, rice and kojic & tranexamic acids to rise. I expect to see more antioxidants like astaxanthin or glutathione. Still, retinol is not going anywhere, I expect to see more retinol-based products like The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum.  

I didn't know that Eros got The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum before - because of him I bought the Belif Chamomile series, still, I recommend you check his post too since he did a great job introducing people to this product. I bought The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum since I've decided to use something weaker than Aklief (Aklief is amazing, but when you're still at university and you have to test different skin treatments on yourself, it's a bit impossible when you're on Aklief to take part in lectures and test microdermabrasion or other treatments that don't go along with stronger retinoids) and I was curious how Korean retinol treatments work since they are told to be more gentle. 

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

About The Face Shop & Dr. Belmeur 

The Face Shop is a Kbeauty brand from the LG family. Yes, this brand belongs to LG Household & Health Care - just like Belif. Dr. Belmeur history has started in 2016. This brand creates formulas that shouldn't irritate your skin.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum - Packaging  

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum has amazing red packaging, it looks so luxurious. I was expecting to see a pipette but this treatment doesn't have it.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum - Scent & Texture  

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum has a floral scent, the texture is creamy.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum - Ingredients  

Water/​Eau, Glycerin, Dimethicone, Squalane, Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride, Panthenol, Sorbitan Stearate, Alanyl Glutamine, PEG-40 Stearate, Glyceryl Stearate, Serine, Stearic Acid, Silica, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables, Butylene Glycol, Allantoin, Tromethamine, Tocopherol, PEG-100 Stearate, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Glycosphingolipids, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Cedrol, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Xanthan Gum, *Methoxy PEG-12 Retinamide, Alcohol Denat, Sodium Metabisulfite, Titanium Dioxide (Ci77891), Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Mica, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Ceramide NP, Trisodium EDTA, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil, Caprylyl/​Capryl Glucoside, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Beta-Glucan, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Propolis Extract, Cholesterol, Iron Oxides (Ci 77491), Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate, T-Butyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Caprylate, Citric Acid, Polyglyceryl-6 Oleate, Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Extract, Alcohol, Propylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Lecithin, Polysorbate 20, Sodium Surfactin, Retinol, Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol, Ceteth-3, Ceteth-5, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cetyl Phosphate, BHT, Disodium EDTA, Limonene, Citronellol, Linalool, Citral, Geraniol  

Water hides in a cosmetic product under names such as Aqua or Eau. It's a solvent, but it's not your regular drinking water. If we want to use water in skincare products, we need to make sure this water is clean and free from minerals, any microorganisms or other substances. Usually, water makes up the majority of the content of the product. Glycerin or Glycerol is a humectant. Its origin can be natural or synthetic - depending on the product. It protects TEWL (transepidermal water loss) and naturally occurs in the skin. It's one of the NMFs - natural moisturizing factors. It's practical in haircare. Glycerin won't clog your skin or irritate it just the opposite - it protects your skin from irritation. Dimethicone is a dry emollient. Some people might find clogging, but it keeps your skin moist and protect it from dehydration. It has a positive effect on the skin barrier by creating occlusion, and it helps with scars. It can also smooth your skin visually. It's also silicone that's why some people like to talk badly about Dimethicone just because of this fact, but there's no reason to be frightened. It gives your skin an occlusive film, but it doesn't suffocate your skin. We need occlusion to prevent water from TEWL (Transepidermal Water Loss) - to keep the skin moist. It protects your hair from dehydration and weather, and it makes it easier to brush your hair. Squalane is an ingredient that I believe everyone should enjoy. In nature, Squalane occurs in human sebum, and it protects the skin from dehydration. Sadly, with age, the amount of Squalane in sebum decreases. Usually, Squalane in your skincare products comes from olives or sugar cane. It's a light, stable oil with a single bond (squalENE has double bonds, and both these ingredients shouldn't be mistaken). It has no colour and scent. It's perfect for sensitive skin and dehydrated skin since it strengths the lipid barrier. It speeds up the healing process, and it won't clog your skin. Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil is one of the most common oils in skincare. This emollient is full in oleic and palmitoleic acid. This oil is great for body care and hair care, every skin type should enjoy it. Cetearyl Alcohol is a fatty alcohol. In the beauty industry, it's an emollient. Many people associate alcohol with something awful for the epidermis, but not every alcohol is nasty. Cetearyl alcohol leaves a moisturizing film on the skin to prevent your skin from transepidermal water loss (TEWL). We use Cetearyl alcohol to create an emulsion. 1,2-Hexanediol is a synthetic solvent and preservative. It protects products from microorganisms by boosting other preservatives. At the same time, it can moisturize the skin, and it has no unpleasant effects on your epidermis. Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride is a combination of coconut oil and glycerin. It's an emollient, quite common in skincare. It leaves a protective film on the surface of the epidermis to save your cutis from dehydration. Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride has a significant role in skincare products - it makes the application process effortless. Some people might experience pore-clogging after using Caprylic/​Capric Triglyceride, but pore-clogging and skin reactions to ingredients are individual. What works for you might not work for someone else. Panthenol is a humectant. It prevents skin from TEWL (Transepidermal Water Loss). Panthenol is also known as vitamin B5, and it helps with irritation. You can see it in products for atopic dermatitis or psoriasis. It can soothe the skin irritated by preservatives, scent ingredients, and chemical sunscreens. It might have a meaning for lipids in our skin and skin barrier. It speeds up the healing process. It's good to use it after sunbathing. In haircare, Panthenol has moisturizing properties. It is good to mix it with niacinamide and zinc oxide. Sorbitan Stearate is an emulsifier. Alanyl Glutamine has moisturizing properties. PEG-40 Stearate has emulsifying properties. Glyceryl Stearate is an ester of Glycerin and Stearic Acid. It's an emollient and emulsifier, and you can find it in oil in water formulas. It's a superb ingredient, but in some solutions, Glyceryl Stearate is problematic for me since it feels like it clogs my skin, but just because I'm not a fan of it, it doesn't mean your skin won't like it. Every skin is different. Serine is an amino acid, it can have moisturizing properties. Stearic Acid is an emollient that you can love or hate. The problem is that not every skin likes it - mine usually breaks out when you show it Stearic Acid. Silica is a thickener with magical properties for acne-prone and oily skin. It absorbs sebum, but at the same time, it can reflect the light to make your skin look healthy. Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate or Octinoxate is a non-stable UVB sunscreen agent. Hydrogenated Olive Oil Unsaponifiables is an emollient. Butylene Glycol is a moisturizer and solvent, but it's also alcohol. You see, not every alcohol in skincare is terrible. Some of them have positive effects on your skin - just like Butylene Glycol, which is a popular substance even in eco/green cosmetic products. 

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

Allantoin is a powerful ingredient in skincare, and I think we have all known it since the early days. My family didn't imagine my childhood without this cream. Allantoin derives from comfrey, and it has soothing properties, but it also speeds up the healing process, which makes it ideal for acne-prone skin and sensitive skin. Tromethamine helps with the pH, to make sure your product has an ideal pH. Tocopherol is an antioxidant known as Vitamin E. It's an oil-soluble vitamin that fights free radicals, makes UVB protection and natural lipid barrier stronger. It's good to mix it with vitamin C for better effects. Oily skin might react with pore-clogging to vitamin E. It is not true that vitamin E works as a preservative or helps with scars. PEG-100 Stearate is an emulsifier. I like Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate more in skincare than as food since this ingredient is related to your least favourite candy, but a very soothing plant - Licorice! It works as an anti-inflammatory ingredient, but it has a positive meaning for acne-prone skin. In general, Licorice can brighten your skin and help with acne. I wouldn't expect a lot from Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, but I think that adding it to this formula was a great move. Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate has soothing properties. Glycosphingolipids is an emollient, just like Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil. Cedrol is an emollient and it can be found in essential oil. Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6 is a thickener. Xanthan Gum is a thickener and stabilizer which you can find in food and skincare. Alcohol Denat is an immense topic in skincare. Alcohol can be good or bad for your skin, but sometimes the amount makes a poison. Alcohol, after all, is a prominent solvent. It makes active substances penetrate the skin deeper. This effect has its cost - the skin is getting a bit irritated. Some substances can be dissolved only in alcohol. This ingredient has antibacterial properties. It works as a preservative by preventing microorganisms from growth in the product. It has some awful sides too - it can dry your skin, mainly if we use it in large amounts. Sensitive skin is not a fan of this ingredient. Sodium Metabisulfite is an antioxidant. Titanium Dioxide (Ci77891) - is a mineral sunscreen. It protects your skin from UVB and UVA (II) radiation. Usually, Titanium Dioxide leaves a white cast on the epidermis. Many people with sensitive skin prefer to use Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide instead of organic sunscreen (organic sunscreen agents contain carbon, inorganic sunscreens aka mineral sunscreens doesn't contain carbon). The Nano version of Titanium Dioxide fixes the problem with the white cast (not entirely, but you can spot the difference). You might not know that, but Titanium Dioxide is a super useful colourant and sunscreen agent. If you have melasma, you want this ingredient in your sunscreen and makeup. It gives your skin a "barrier" that protects your skin from UV radiation. Triethoxycaprylylsilane helps to spread pigment evenly. Mica is a mineral, and it works as a pigment. It reflects light. There's a controversy around this ingredient - mining this ingredient isn't always going along with proper work conditions. Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil adds scent to the product. Ceramide NP or Ceramide 3 is an ingredient that we want to see in our products. Ceramides naturally occur in human skin, and they have a dominant role. You can find them in the lipid barrier of the skin along with cholesterol and fatty acids. Ceramide is like a cement of the skin. It makes sure that your skin won't get dehydrated. Trisodium EDTA is a chelating ingredient. Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Oil is an essential oil, awesome for acne-prone skin because it has antibacterial properties, but sensitive skin might not be a fan of it. Caprylyl/​Capryl Glucoside is a natural surfactant. Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil - is an essential oil. It's a phototoxic substance that's why you shouldn't use it if you plan to sunbathe. I would recommend being careful with this substance during the summer. It might have a pleasant scent, but some people are allergic to it, and if you're pregnant - it's good to avoid it. Beta-glucan is a polysaccharide. It can come from yeast, seaweeds or fungi. It's one of the best moisturizers with soothing properties. It might help with reducing wrinkle visibility on the epidermis. Some sources say it might be an antioxidant. It's good to mix it with niacinamide, retinoids or use it after skincare treatments to heal the skin quicker. Beta-glucan leaves a film on the skin to prevent TEWL and lock the moisture inside the skin. Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil - you probably know Tea Tree as an essential oil ingredient. EO's are controversial because they are not as safe as people think. Essential oils are similar to Alcohol, some are positive and some are negative because they can cause allergic reactions and be phototoxic or photosensitive. Tea Tree Oil is a good guy, it's super helpful in curing acne. It shouldn't be used straight on your skin, it needs to be diluted. It has antibacterial and antiseptic properties. Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil or Rose Geranium Flower Essential Oil is an essential oil, which means it might be sensitizing for your skin. Pelargonium graveolens is a flower typical for South Africa. You can usually find it in perfumes, aromatherapy or skincare, as a scent ingredient. I guess a few years ago Propolis Extract was super popular in skincare. People use Propolis for thousands of years, it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. In my case, Propolis helps me with acne, but Propolis ampoules are good if you want to get the honey skin look. If you're allergic to bees then I recommend you avoid this ingredient but if bees are not a problem for you - it's an ingredient that can change your skincare game. Cholesterol is an ingredient that we associate with health. We talk a lot about good and bad cholesterol, but do you know that cholesterol has a vast meaning for your skin? It's a lipid that you can find in the skin barrier. It makes the skin barrier stronger and prevents your skin from irritation and dehydration. In a product, it's an emollient. Iron Oxides (Ci 77491) or Iron Oxide Red is a red or even brownish red pigment with UV protection properties. Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil is an essential oil with positive effects on acne-prone skin since it has antibacterial properties. Sodium Cocoyl Glutamate is a surfactant. T-Butyl Alcohol works as a solvent. 

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

Glyceryl Caprylate is an oily emollient and emulsifier. It derivates from plants, that's why it's Ecocert approves it. Citric acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). It's a delicate exfoliant and a buffering ingredient. It adjusts the pH of the formula. Polyglyceryl-6 Oleate is an emulsifier. Myristica Fragrans (Nutmeg) Extract is supposed to have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Alcohol is an immense topic in skincare. Alcohol can be good or bad for your skin, but sometimes the amount makes a poison. Alcohol, after all, is a prominent solvent. It makes active substances penetrate the skin deeper. This effect has its cost - the skin is getting a bit irritated. Some substances can be dissolved only in alcohol. This ingredient has antibacterial properties. It works as a preservative by preventing microorganisms from growth in the product. It has some awful sides too - it can dry your skin, mainly if we use it in large amounts. Sensitive skin is not a fan of this ingredient. You can love or hate Propylene Glycol. It's alcohol, but not every alcohol is bad. Organic skincare companies usually are against it, while in fact, Propylene Glycol helps with transferring active ingredients through the skin, it's also a good moisturizer and solvent. Hydrogenated Lecithin is lecithin after surgery - it works as an emollient, but it is also used to encapsulate the active substance in liposomes (since they are supposed to help the active substance penetrate the skin deeper). Polysorbate 20 and Sodium Surfactin are surfactants and emulsifiers. Retinol is one of the top ingredients lately. It's a form of Vitamin A, and one of the most researched active ingredients in skincare. Vitamin A has amazing anti-wrinkle and anti-aging properties. Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols is an emollient. PEG-5 Rapeseed Sterol is a surfactant. Ceteth-3 and Ceteth-5 are emulsifiers. Tocopheryl Acetate is a form of Vitamin E. It's an antioxidant with some moisturizing properties. It protects your skin from free radical damage. It supports UVB protection, but Vitamin E in the form of Tocopheryl Acetate is not as helpful as Tocopherol. Cetyl Phosphate is an emulsifier. BHT is used in low concentrations in skin care products. In such concentrations, you shouldn't be scared of it, because it works as an antioxidant. Disodium EDTA neutralizes metal ions in the formula to keep products fresh for a longer time. Limonene is a scent ingredient, and it makes the product smell like lemon or orange. Limonene can enhance penetration of other substances, but at the same time, it can irritate the skin. Citronellol adds scent to the product. Linalool gives a floral scent to products. It can irritate the skin. Citral gives products a lemon scent. It can be sensitizing for the skin. Geraniol makes products smell like geranium. It can be sensitizing.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

How does The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum work?  

I can understand the hype around retinol and all different forms since it's not a new ingredient. Some of us already tried retinoids - adapalene and other forms which you can't get at a regular drugstore. Somehow I see lots of new releases based on retinol and pro-retinol. I do not have big experience with retinol available at the market, but I tried a few retinoids before and I even did a Retix-C treatment on my cousin (since who needs an esthetician when you're cousin is trained esthie).   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

The first thing which I had to notice in The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum is the scent, a heavy floral scent that for many people will be pleasant, but for me, the scent is a bit too much. Especially when I consider Dr Belmeur to be more sensitive skin-friendly than the regular The Face Shop line. I was expecting more liquid formula, but it's a light cream. I feel like Dr Belmeur could call it a light moisturizer instead of serum. The formula itself is very light, I'm not sure if it's 0,05% Retinol or less concentration, but the formula is mild in comparison to retinoids I used before. In two months of using this product, I had no irritation on the skin. My skincare routine has changed a lot in 2021 and I put focus on calming ingredients, but still The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum even if it contains lots of scent ingredients, it worked well on my skin.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

Obviously, it wouldn't be as perfect as it looks. If I have to compare The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum to other retinol products, I didn't expect a huge difference, and that's why the product didn't disappoint me. The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum might be irritating for some people especially if you're allergic to any substance in this serum, but the side effect is that - The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum is not as strong as other retinol products. The effects are less aggressive and less visible. I feel like The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum is a good serum to start your retinol journey in your mid 20's but for a person who tried many retinol products, it might be not enough.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

One good tip which I have to tell you - if you use any form of retinol, you should remember about sunscreen too! Sunscreen is a must if you use actives like retinoids or acids. In general, it's good to use sunscreen daily and even reapply it.   

I'm a bit sad that The Face Shop & Dr Belmeur didn't decide to create a solution like IOPE - creating a few retinol products with different strengths from 0.1% to 0.3%, etc.   

The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum

Where to buy The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum?  

I got The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum at Jolse, it costs $32.78 for 50ml - the price might change but it's around 30-40$. Right now this retinol is sold, but other options which you might want to try are: 
- Innisfree Retinol Cica Repair Ampoule $33.90/30ml - I plan to try this one since I heard good reviews of this ampoule 
- The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane $10.50/30ml - I guess I don't have to introduce this retinol solution  

In general, The Face Shop Dr. Belmeur Red Pro-Retinol Serum is my first K-beauty retinol product, but I guess I might give a try to a few more products. Have you ever tried any retinol?



*** This post was made in a collaboration with Jolse even though  it still shows my personal, honest opinion on the topic and product.***

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