Don’t Mix Skin Care Ingredients, Dermatologists Say

Hyaluronic acid. Niacinamide. Retinol. Salicylic acid. The list of active ingredients that we like to apply to our skin is long. But, while you can mix and match the serums to put together a personalized skin care routine, be aware that there are some ingredients that don’t go well together. Some combinations can cause irritation, while others will reduce the effectiveness of the product, which means you will need to pay close attention to what (and how) you apply.

“The biggest problem with mixing certain active ingredients or skin care ingredients is that they can cause dryness, burning, stinging or redness of the skin” and, sometimes, discoloration, says Caren Campbell, MD, a certified dermatologist in California. “In addition, some active skin care ingredients negate the effects or reduce the effectiveness of others.”

To keep your skin care routine from turning into a chemistry experiment gone wrong, keep scrolling to find out which ingredients the dermis are begging you not to mix.

1. Vitamin C and exfoliators

Shirley Chi, MD, a certified dermatologist in California, says to never use vitamin C after exfoliation. The exfoliating ingredients include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid, beta hydroxy acids (BHA) like salicylic acid and scrubs. This rule applies to the serums you use at home as well as to all exfoliating treatments in the office, such as chemical peels. “I always recommend that you don’t use vitamin C serum right after doing something like this,” says Dr. Chi, “It’s very itchy and does more harm than good because your pores are so open. “

How to exfoliate your face:

2. Retinoids and hydroxyl acids

Another ingredient that you will want to keep away from your AHAs and BHAs? Retinol. While retinoids are great for stimulating cell turnover, they can also cause irritation, and this risk factor increases when you use them on freshly exfoliated skin. “Using AHA and BHA with retinoids can cause excessive dryness,” says Dr. Campbell. To avoid irritation, she suggests using a glycolic wash once or twice a week to exfoliate, and using a retinoid on non-exfoliating nights.

3. Different types of retinoids

We love retinoids because they give you clearer, brighter skin, but you don’t want too much of a good thing. You’ll find the most commonly listed retinoids like retinol, retinaldehyde, retinyl esters, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, and trifarotene, and Dr. Chi says to avoid doubling down. “If you put in a serum that contains retinol and then you put in adapalene, it’s probably going to cause irritation because now you’re increasing your adapalene,” says Dr. Chi. Pay attention to ingredient labels to make sure you don’t double down on the potent active.

Learn more about retinol here:

4. Certain retinoids and benzoyl peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical antiseptic commonly used to treat acne, and retinoids are known to clear rashes by replacing dead skin cells on the surface of your complexion with healthy new ones. But when using them together, check with your dermatologist to make sure they’re compatible. “Some retinoids can be deactivated by benzoyl peroxide, but not all,” says Dr. Campbell. She names adapalene as one of the best over-the-counter retinoids that you can use with benzoyl peroxide without any issues. If you want to use the two ingredients in tandem, Dr. Campbell recommends packing your nighttime routine with a benzoyl peroxide wash, like CeraVe Acne Foaming Cream Cleanser ($ 12) in the shower, followed by an adapalene serum. , like To defer ($ 16), when you go out.

5. Copper peptides and vitamin C

Copper peptides are becoming popular in skin care because of their ability to stimulate skin renewal. Just make sure you don’t mix them with vitamin C. “Copper peptides should not be used with vitamin C because they can oxidize vitamin C and reduce its antioxidant effect,” says Dr. Campbell. To get the maximum benefit from each ingredient, divide them between your morning and evening routine or use them alternately.

Here’s why vitamin C is so good for your skin:

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