By Isabel Martel Francisco
September 01, 2020
Dr Vicki Belo, one of the country’s most respected dermatologists and business-women, has successfully built a beauty and dermatology empire. With the Belo Group, she has been able to help Filipinos reach their best selves. Find out what her skincare regime is and what she suggests for different skin types:
“I have combination skin,” Dr Vicki says. She shares that for combination skin, one must use a cleanser for oily skin because it is best practice to tackle the more extreme problem. She says that “even if it’s just the t-zone that’s oily, you still have to use the oily skin cleanser, so I use ZO Exfoliating Cleanser. Then, I use the ZO Exfoliating Polish three times a week. I also use ZO Brightalive Skin Brightener to even out my skin tone, too.”
Dr Vicki explains that as people get older, they tend to have more dark spots, which is why she says she applies Vitamin C. “It’s an antioxidant which will also protect me from the sun and environmental triggers, brightens up the skin, promotes more even skin tone and smoothens fine lines and wrinkles,” she tells me. Lastly, she says she always wears Belo Face SunExpert SPF 50.
“In the evening, I have to remove my make up, so I use Clarins Cleansing Milk, and then I put on Fillmed Skin Perfusion HXR Eye Cream.” Interestingly, Dr Vicki says that when eye creams are too moisturising, we can wake up in the morning with pseudo eye bags from over-hydration!
“After my eye cream, I apply the ZO Exfoliating Accelerator, and the ZO Wrinkle + Texture Repair Serum,” she continues. Dr Vicki is a big fan of ZO (Zein Obagi) and sticks to the same product line which she found has worked well for her skin.
Twice a week, Dr Vicki also enjoys doing facemasks: the FillMed Glycolic Face Mask, and their Hyaluronic AcidFace Mask.
“Yes, twice a week is maximum,” Dr Vicki says. She adds that for example, hyaluronic acid is too hydrating for every day, so you can end up with pimples.
“Apply tretinoin or retinol every day!” Dr Vicki says that “you should do this from the age of acne, all the way to your seventies because it dries up oiliness, gets rid of bacteria and normalises skin turnover in your teens. As you get to your thirties, it increases collagen and elastin production”. She strongly reminds us to “be sure to use sunblock on top!”
“No, no, no,” Dr Vicki says quickly. She explains that moisturisers were created to make the thick outer layer of the skin (the stratum corneum) feel softer but it does not really penetrate below. She says that people do not really know this so they think that when they apply moisturiser, and notice soft outer-layer skin that they’re problems are solved. “But once they forget to apply, their skin will feel dry again. So does it really fix the problem? Of course not. Moisturisers just provide temporary lubrication and when you forget to lubricate, it goes back to the old skin,” she elaborates.
Continuing, Dr Vicki says that the issue is that people are taking care of ‘old skin’ by moisturising instead of revealing ‘new skin’ through exfoliation. “You need to exfoliate in order to reveal the nice new skin underneath!”.
In general Dr Vicki does not advise the use of moisturisers here in the Philippines and in tropical countries. “It’s already hot and humid, which keeps our skin moist. Moisturisers are useful in cold countries where you can actually feel your face drying up,” she says.
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“Yes, what we eat and what time we sleep affects our skin. So when we eat a lot of chips, oily food, peanut butter, nuts, fried food, junk food…it’s not good for our skin!” she shares that eating clean and nutritious food does, in fact, benefit our skin’s appearance.
Dr Vicki passionately says that she believes in eating healthy and keeping our microbiome healthy. Food matters! “The microbiome is the environment of your gut. Did you know that 70 per cent of all our cells are in our gut? We need to keep this healthy. We constantly destroy it by eating processed food, inhaling pollution, taking antibiotics, etc.” She suggests trying out some fermented foods that contain natural probiotics and antioxidants, like kombucha for example. “My favourite is kimchi! The thing about taking pills for probiotics or prebiotics and such is…why take the supplements when you can just get the nutrients you need from what you eat? All these pills are not as good as eating nutritious food!”
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To her, we should approach ageing holistically, not just superficially. She emphasises that the most important thing is hydration–drinking water. “Drinking a lot of water is vital to health because it’s what keeps all your systems clean. In my opinion, the best kind of water is hydrogen water.” She tells me that as we age, the body does not absorb nutrients as quickly and easily as it used to. “Like, Scarlet, for example, everything just goes straight [to] her system!” Dr Vicki shares that with hydrogen water, (which is normal water with extra hydrogen molecules added into it) she feels more hydrated. “When I drink normal water now, I don’t feel like it goes in my system….I still feel dehydrated,” she adds.
One thing many people tend to forget is that you should not only take care of your face but also your entire body. “Make sure you take care of your whole body’s skin. It is important to exfoliate the body. When you get older, your skin just keeps staying on your face, when it should fall off. Not like when you’re a baby, the turn-over is so fast. But when you get older, and you put moisturiser, you end up having layers… like 10 to 14 layers of dead skin!” she shares.
Lastly, one thing she recommends for ageing gracefully is intermittent fasting in order to reach ketosis. “It creates little stress for your system, just enough to wake you up. If you’re always comfortable, lying down, doing nothing, as usual, everything gets sluggish. But if you stress your system out a little bit, your body wakes up and repairs.” Dr Vicki recommends 16-18 hours of fasting per day.
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“I think if they moisturise too much it could be harmful,” she speaks about the K-Beauty fad and how the multi-step Korean skincare trend is sweeping the world. Dr Vicki comments that their routine involved a lot of layering of products, which she says is okay in their country since it is very cold and dry. “If we try to use the same products here in the Philippines where it is hot and humid, it won’t achieve the same results.” In fact, Dr Vicki gets a lot of patients who are breaking out because they follow the K-Beauty trend which she feels is simply too clogging for the tropics. “I wouldn’t overdo it in terms of layering products on your skin. At most, for most people, I think in the morning and evening it should be three-four products …until they reach the age of 50, then they can start putting more moisturising things.”
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