Some skincare ingredients not to mix because they don’t play nice with each other. The ingredients that shouldn’t be layered are those that are difficult to keep stable in a formula, increase the risk of irritation together, or cancel each other out when combined.
With a little know-how, you can streamline your routine to make sure all the components are working for you and getting you closer to your good-skin goals.
Here are some scenarios of skincare ingredients not to mix:
Vitamin C with Salicylic Acid
Vitamin C is effectively an acid (it’s sometimes known as ascorbic acid), so layering it with AHAs and BHAs like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids is a big no-no.
It’s also really unstable, so any acids you layer it with will destabilize the pH balance and render it completely useless before it even has a chance to work its magic.
Retinol & Vitamin C
These efficacious ingredients may brighten your complexion and fade dark spots better than anything else, but in tandem, both of the actives have the potential to irritate your skin.
Minimize redness and flaking by keeping your favorite retinol and vitamin C serums separate. Slot vitamin C into your a.m. routine, especially since it functions better in the daytime.
Retinol is best for your p.m. skin-care lineup, as light can increase the degradation of the product.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol
If you’ve been dealing with acne for a while, you probably already know that both of these ingredients work to prevent breakouts. But they’re not often used in combination in the very same product.
Benzoyl peroxide is a potent acne product that’s great for inflammatory acne, but many people are unaware that benzoyl peroxide can inactivate topical retinol.
AHAs and BHAs
AHAs are best for dry skin and anti-aging, while BHAs are best for addressing the appearance of acne such as large pores, blackheads, and pimples.
But combining AHAs, like glycolic acid, and BHAs, like salicylic acid, can be harsh on the skin.
Retinol and AHAs/BHAs
The problem with using them together? Retinol is extremely unstable and using it with ingredients like acids can be too hard on the skin, causing dryness, sensitivity, and irritation – particularly if you already have sensitive skin or use strong concentrations.
Soap-based cleanser and Vitamin C
Vitamin C is designed as a morning product. But what you cleanse with beforehand matters, too.
As mentioned earlier, vitamin C is best when formulated with a low pH, though, using a soap-based cleanser, which has a high pH, will ultimately decrease skin’s ability to absorb vitamin C.
Niacinamide and Vitamin C
Used separately, both ingredients are great for treating blemish-prone and scarred skin, and you’ll find they’re used together in some multi-ingredient serums.
However, combining them DIY-style is potentially a recipe for disaster. Niacinamide can cancel out the good properties of vitamin C and turn it into a substance that causes redness and can trigger acne breakouts.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Hydroquinone
One of the crucial tips dermatologists share with their patients they prescribe hydroquinone to is avoid merging it with benzoyl peroxide in your skin-care routine.
Together, they can do the exact opposite of what you want them to do and end up temporarily staining your skin.