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Frank Ocean’s skincare hack is retinol

For the past couple of years, skincare routines have gained a status akin to that of a dirty little secret everyone wants to know. Are you using snail slime? Is Vintner’s Daughter really that good? How come you don’t get fungal acne while using fermented products? Does retinol really work? Frank Ocean’s answer to the last question is a yes.

In a candid interview with GQ, the blonde singer, who just made his Instagram public late last year, revealed his skincare routine.


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@alasdairmclellan @gq ?

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Like anyone with a skincare routine, Frank is concerned about men who hit the sack with their “day face” on. “I feel like men just go to sleep. They may wash their face or they don’t even bother—they go to sleep with the day face on,” he says. “You really need to do a gentle wash and put a night moisturizer on.”

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Frank swears by patting a night cream all over the face before sleeping. “I need the night cream because when I wake up I feel very beautiful, moisturized and ready to have people making eye contact with me, ready to look above my eyebrow, below the eyebrow,” he says.


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In particular, Frank uses a cream with retinol. Creams, or any skincare product, with retinol are designed for nighttime use. As Frank suggests, “you can’t have the retinol in your creams in the day because it makes you more sun-sensitive.” So, it’s always best to massage your skin with a sunscreen—actually even when you’re not using retinol—during the day.

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Retinol is considered a superstar ingredient in dermatology. It’s a potent derivative of vitamin A that speeds up the process of skin regeneration. This is why you’ll always find it in anti-aging creams and acne medications. “[Retinoic Acid] is the most powerful anti-aging topical known to us at this time,” dermatologist Anna Guanche tells beauty website The Klog.

As with all active ingredients though, retinol has a tendency to damage the skin when not used properly. Hence, it’s better to get a prescription from a trusted dermatologist than purchasing over-the-counter retinol creams.


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Frank is 31 years old, but if you’re still in your teens or early 20s, you might not need retinol yet. In a Marie Claire article, celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau recommends adding the powerful ingredient to your routine in your late 20s. Again, it’s best to ask your dermatologist regarding this.

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I wonder if that’s all Frank does. Or is he not sharing his other secrets? Like, what cream is he exactly using? Or is he not sharing that expensive treatment he might have gotten? But it looks like Frank hasn’t figured it all out. Like us, he’s still waiting for answers from Pharrell. “Pharrell still hasn’t given us the keys yet. He just says ‘exfoliate,’ but it’s not just ‘exfoliate:’ We need more keys,” he says. Nonetheless, we’re glad he shared a bit of his skincare routine. As he says, “That’s the life hack right there.”

Art by Renz Mart Reyes


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