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Can Retinol Be Used With Vitamin C

Combine With Caution: Alpha And Beta Hydroxy Acids + Vitamin C

Can I Use Retinol And Vitamin C Together – The Ordinary

Vitamin C and hydroxy acid products could potentially be used together, as they both work in acidic environments, Chang said, adding that because both are made in acidic formulations, the combination can be more irritating for the skin.

Isaac noted that in the case of vitamin C and salicylic acid specifically, the combination could work for those with oilier skin. Just as she advises for vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide, she recommends waiting a few minutes between the application of each product.

Chang, however, suggested using them separately. If youre unsure if this combo will work for you, speak to a dermatologist.

Does Retinol Have Exfoliating Effects

Some people claim that retinol will exfoliate the skin, so you shouldnt use it with an AHA or BHA. But the truth is that these ingredients work very differently to improve skin, yet they complement each other when paired together. To make it clearer, here are the facts:

  • Retinol is an antioxidant and an important cell-communicating ingredient. When it absorbs into skin, it can actually “tell” living skin cells to make healthier, younger cells and to enhance the production of new skin cells.
  • It stimulates cellular turnover from the deeper layers upnot in the uppermost layers. Those uppermost layers are where AHA or BHA steps in to help skin shed unhealthy, dead, built-up skin cells.
  • Retinol in both over-the-counter and prescription-only products may cause flaking and peeling for some. But don’t mistake flaking for exfoliation, whether from retinol or AHAs or BHAs. Flaking is simply a sign of irritation. If it persists when using AHA, BHA, or retinol products, or any product, you need to use it less often, or stop altogether.

Is It Ok To Use Retinol And Vitamin C Together

Yes, it is OK to use retinol and vitamin C, but ideally not at the same time. This is important to remember as it removes any chance of the skin becoming too irritated.

With each ingredient delivering unique and similar results you may be tempted to layer the two together. The problem that will occur is the fact they work best at different pH levels and mixing products containing different pH levels then applying them onto the skin, which has another completely different pH level will result in irritation, and a lot of it! Not only that, but youll also find each active is unable to work to their potential which will basically result in you missing out on positive effects of these ingredients.

To gain optimal results, the best way of using retinol and vitamin C together is ensuring you leave plenty of time in between applications. Due to the nature of retinol requiring you to apply it in the evening, many find using vitamin C in the morning and retinol during their night-time routine is the easiest and most effective way of reaping the rewards of using both actives.

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Summary Can You Use Vitamin C And Retinol Together

Yes! You can use vitamin C and retinol together. In fact, they are an excellent combination if youre looking to reverse the signs of skin aging.

Most criticisms of this wrinkle-busting due come from the belief that their different pH levels will reduce the effectiveness of either ingredient. However, this is not the case. The only reason you may want to avoid this combination is if you have particularly sensitive skin as the risk of skin irritation is high.

The Benefits Of Combining Retinol And Vitamin C

Resurfacing Retinol Serum

Using retinol and vitamin C together may result in smoother, brighter skin. “Vitamin C defends, protects and supports collagen production, while retinol renews skin cells and stimulates collagen,” Shirazi says. “They both reduce pigmentation and brighten discoloration.”

Though the benefits of combining vitamin C and retinol can be marginal, simply because retinol is so effective on it’s own, Minars tells us. “If your skin does not get irritated by combining them, and you perceive added value from the pairing, then go for it,” he says.

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How Does Retinol Work

Retinol, a form of vitamin A, aids the body in cellular turnover which is the biological process by which our bodies are prompted to shed skin cells and regenerate new skin cells. Its the process responsible for ridding our old, dead, dull skin cells and replacing them with new, strong, radiant cells.

Our surface skin cells have been through a lot. Every day, they face pollution, dirt, debris, and grime… all factors that leave our skin cells dry, flaky, discolored, and anything but desirable. Studies have shown that air pollutants are actually linked to a number of skin conditions, like eczema, skin aging, dermatitis, acne, and psoriasis.

So The Question Remains: Should I Use Vitamin C Or Retinol

Like so many other questions in life, the answer is: It depends. The choice should come down to what youre looking to do for your skin. While vitamin C is most notable for helping to brighten and improve hyperpigmentation, retinol is typically considered best-in-class for wrinkles and fine lines. If you really want to give your skin a one-two punch, you can also try incorporating both into your routine. Start by using each ingredient 1-2 times per week, using vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night. And always pair your routine with an SPF, especially when using retinol since it can increase your skins sensitivity to the sun.

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How Do You Use Retinol

Before you use a retinol product for the first time, try a little bit on a small area of skin to see if you have any negative reactions. If, after a couple of days, your skin patch isnt very red or itchy, you can add retinol to your skincare routine at bedtime.

To use retinol, follow the instructions on the package or your providers recommendations for application. In general, here are the steps you take:

  • Clean your skin with a gentle cleanser and pat it dry. Dont scrub your skin while using retinol products.
  • Apply retinol in a thin layer to your entire face . You should use a dose thats about the size of a pea. For the first couple weeks of treatment, apply retinol only every other day.
  • Finish with a facial moisturizer that wont clog your pores .

Is It Safe To Use Them Together

Can You Use RETINOL and VITAMIN C Serum Together? | Chris Gibson

In the past, you might have been cautioned against using both glycolic acid and retinol in your skin care routine.

This advice stems from the myth that glycolic acid, or any other alpha or beta hydroxy acid, affected retinols ability to work.

Research from 2015 , however, suggests a combination of the two may work well for treating acne scarring.

Still, while the two ingredients may complement each other in some cases, you generally wont want to mix them directly that could, quite literally, be a recipe for irritation. Instead, aim to use them at different times of the day, or even on different days.

I generally dont use both at the same time, says Chacon. I tend to combine retinol in my night serum, and use glycolic acid in my daytime routine as a cleanser or as a body lotion.

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Ways To Combine Retinol And Vitamin C

Similar to the process of combining BHAs and AHAs with these ingredients, Retinol and Vitamin C can provide a rather intense experience for the skin when used together. To avoid skin irritation and increased skin sensitivity, separate your Vitamin C routine from your Retinol routine, or allow your skin to absorb Vitamin C before applying Retinol.


Its optimal to apply Vitamin C in the morning as this ingredient can visibly brighten your skinand who doesnt want to start the day off with visibly brighter skin? Vitamin C also creates a protective barrier that defends the skin from the suns intense UV rays and the unpleasant photoaging effects they cause.

Apply a Vitamin C booster serum in the morning, followed by a sunscreen to preserve your skins youth and improve the appearance of dark spots. Dermatologists advise that you use Retinol at night since it increases the skins sensitivity, making it more susceptible to damage or irritation from heat and the suns UV rays.

At night, apply a natural Retinol serum that works to tighten the skin and mitigate wrinkles, fine lines, and other imperfections while you sleep. Using Vitamin C in the morning and Retinol at night provides your skin with the ultimate brightening and firming treatment.


The Benefits Of Vitamin C

Besides being great for common colds, vitamin C also contains a multitude of benefits for the skin. Its complexion benefits can include:

  • Preventing visible skin damage like hyperpigmentation, dullness and uneven tone
  • Diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Shields skin against environmental stressors, like free radical damage

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Vitamin C Basics And Benefits

Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin considered to be essential to the body. It has a reputation for being an immune system booster, and people often turn to it when theyre feeling under the weather.

You may be familiar with vitamin C as a component of many fresh fruits and vegetables we eat, especially citrus fruits like oranges. But vitamin C can do so much more than just taste great and potentially fight off the common cold.

When it comes to the skin, vitamin C is one of the more well-rounded skin care ingredients out there. Most of the benefits that it can provide the skin are related to its status as an antioxidant.

Free radicals, which are rogue molecules lacking an electron, can cause significant damage to the body if they are left unchecked. Antioxidants take one for the team, either donating or sharing an electron to help neutralize free radicals.

Vitamin C is also an essential part of the collagen synthesis process. That is a crucial factor because collagen is the component of the skin that keeps it looking firm and youthful .

As we age, the body naturally begins to slow down its production of this essential protein.

Combined with the fact that there is also a degradation of the existing collagen, especially in the face, this is the cause of a significant amount of the age-related complaints most people experience.

With those things in mind, here are some of the more common benefits of using topical vitamin C:

Can Vitamin C And Retinol Be Used Together

Vitamin C 20% Serum Hyaluronic Acid Retinol Anti Aging Dark Spots ...

The short answer is that yes, vitamin C and retinol can be used together. Given the facts about these two ingredients, Im baffled why this myth about them being incompatible persists, Paula Begoun, the “Cosmetics Cop” and founder of Paulas Choice, tells us. Comparative research has shown that when used in the same formula, retinol and vitamin C have a beautiful synergy that actually boosts skins environmental defenses.

Other studies have proven the benefits of applying retinol and vitamin C at the same time for improving aging skin, including skin undergoing changes due to menopause.

In fact, both retinol and vitamin C are naturally found in younger and non-sun-damaged skin, in the form of retinyl palmitate and ascorbic acid. “They work to keep it healthy and renewed,” Paula adds. “In fact, vitamin C is our skins most abundant antioxidant!

Some of the confusion about using these two ingredients together is also likely down to the fact that they are both are potent actives that have the potential to irritateif you have sensitive skin, you may find that using one active at a time in the mornings and evenings suits you better. If youre using a new active for the first time, it’s always worth incorporating it into your routine gradually to see how your skin reacts.

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Opt For Protective Packaging

Like all skincare products, vitamin C has a shelf life. Since its so delicate, its all the more important to get packaging that will make the vitamin C last longer. Heat, light, and air can all cause vitamin C to oxidize and become useless.Get a serum that comes in an opaque or dark-colored bottle. A dropper bottle will expose the serum to the air every time you use it, so opt for an airless pump bottle if you can.Once you get your vitamin C serum, be sure to store it in a cool, dark environment. If it turns brown, it has oxidized and its time to get a new one.

Vitamin C Derivative And Retinol At Night

If you don’t have time for the 30-minute waiting period, but you still want to use retinol and vitamin C at the same time, then your best bet is a vitamin C derivative.

Vitamin C derivatives have to be converted into the active form of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid, in your skin. So they’re not as potent as L-ascorbic acid itself. However, they tend to be more stable and less irritating, and offer many of the same benefits .

As long as you choose a vitamin C derivative that is close in pH to your retinol, then you can use them at the same time, since they will not destabilize each other.

Choose formulas with one or more of these vitamin C derivatives:

  • Ascorbyl glucoside
  • Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate
  • Ethyl ascorbic acid
  • Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
  • Sodium ascorbyl phosphate

Which ingredient goes on first? In general, you want to apply your products in order of lowest to highest pH. However, be mindful of textures. Lighter, water-based solutions must be used before more occlusive, oil-based onesotherwise, they won’t penetrate.

Again, since there’s not a huge gap in pH, you shouldn’t have to wait in between layers. As soon as the first product absorbs, you can apply the second.

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What Are Retinol And Vitamin C

What is retinol?Retinol is a hot topic in the skincare industryand even within that topic people debate retinoid vs retinol. Essentially all retinoids are vitamin A derivatives, they just come in a few different forms, from pure retinol to prescription-grade retinoids and gentler derivatives. Conventional cosmetics usually contain retinol esters called retinyl palmitate and tretinoin, explains Vanessa Thomas, cosmetic chemist and founder of Freelance Formulations . Your body converts these into an active form, retinoic acid, that can then be used by your skin cells.

What is vitamin C?In skincare, the main function of vitamin C is working as one of our most effective antioxidants. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that works to neutralize free radicals in the skin,” explains aesthetic practitioner and founder of Natali Kelly Clinic , Natali Kelly. “It aids in your skins natural regeneration process, which helps your body repair damaged skin cells.” This gives it powerful protective and restorative properties when applied to the skin.

Retinol Basics And Benefits

How To Use Retinol And Vitamin C Together

Next up is retinol, a derivative of vitamin A. Retinoids are over the counter, while a dermatologist must prescribe retinoids. Many of the benefits of retinol are similar to vitamin C, although each ingredient works differently.

Retinol works by helping to increase the rate that the body can create and turn over new skin cells. What that means for your appearance is that your face is always showing the most youthful skin possible, which is often far more radiant and smooth.

That process can also keep more water inside the skin, increasing your hydration. Retinol also helps exfoliate to constantly clear off the dead skin cells from the skins surface.

Retinol can also help to trigger an increase in the production of collagen. Thats why so many consider it to be such an effective anti-aging skin care ingredient. This action method helps plump and firm the skin, leading to a decrease in the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles.

Its also an ingredient that can effectively minimize the number of blemishes you experience. It does this by helping to regulate the production of sebum , which is a frequent clogging agent that can lead to breakouts.

Here are a few of the benefits that people can experience with topical retinol use:

  • Clears pores
  • Fights visible signs of aging
  • Evens the skin tone and reduces hyperpigmentation/dark spots
  • Brightens the skin

The only potential drawback of retinol is that it can irritate the skin, especially for people prone to sensitivity.

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Alpha And Beta Hydroxy Acids

Like vitamin C and benzoyl peroxide, there are over-the-counter products that include both retinol and alpha or beta-hydroxy acids. However, keep in mind that these have been specially formulated for stability. If youre working with two separate products, they will need to be used at different times.

Alpha and beta hydroxy acids may make some topical retinoid formulations less effective because of the pH. It is ok to use these products if your skin tolerates them, but use them in the mornings and use the retinoid at bedtime, says Dr. King. If you are using a topical retinoid regularly, you may notice that your skin is sensitive and you may not be able to tolerate other potentially irritating or exfoliating products like alpha and beta hydroxy acids.

If youre not completely satisfied with your current retinol product, here are some newer formulas to peruse.


The retinol in this luxe night treatment is microencapsulated to prevent irritation and the remaining formula contains a complex that helps further stabilize the retinol so it can be as effective as possible.

Kate Somerville.

Kate Somerville made waves when she debuted this rich moisturizer, infused with both vitamin C and retinol for brighter and smoother skin.

LOreal Paris.

This affordable, fragrance-free option has also been specially formulated with retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. Just be sure to layer with an SPF when applying in the morning.


Peace Out.


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