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Skin Care Ingredients You Should Never Mix Together

Filed in: Clean Beauty

Skin Care Ingredients You Should Never Mix

Some things in life are simply not meant to be mixed together, like certain Skin Care Ingredients. But many are…a sunny day and tennis courts. 😊

Today we’re talking about mixing skin care ingredients that could backfire on you because you didn’t know what you didn’t know. So, before you go on your next shopping spree make sure you read this. It will literally save you from irritation, redness, temporary staining, wasted money and it’ll keep you on the path to getting the results you want. Take your skin care products out from your medicine cabinet and let’s do this together shall we? And of course, you can always reach out to me for skin care advice. 


Skin Care Ingredients Retinol & Vitamin C 

For many women retinol is their go-to product for anti-aging because it speeds skin cell turnover and increases collagen production for glowy, fine line–free skin. 

Look to these two for glowing skin and diminishing dark spots but these two cannot tango together. If anything, your face will be likely feel very uncomfortable and mixing has the potential to irritate your skin.

What to do instead:

  • Apply your vitamin C into your a.m. skin care routine, especially since it functions better in the daytime and retinol at night. 
  • As an alternative, kojic acid is your best bet for coupling with retinol and vitamin C for optimal brightening benefits.

TIP: use retinoid on days you’re not exfoliating.


Vitamin C & Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

Vitamin C is very pH sensitive, and when you mix it with AHAs it tends to diminish the benefits for your skin. If you have sensitive skin this duo will cause irritation. These ingredients all cause cell turnover and some degree of exfoliation thus combined they can and often do cause severe skin irritation.

What to do instead: 

  • Use vitamin C in the morning and AHA at night. 
  • Pair AHA/BHAs and Ceramides. While AHAs and BHAs (like salicylic acid) help to remove the top layers of skin by weakening the lipids that bond them together (thus revealing healthy skin cells), ceramides help to restore the skin by holding the cells, locking in moisture, and acting as a barrier against pollution and bacteria.

Note: Avoid using vitamin C after a deep exfoliation like chemical peels because it’s very irritating and does more harm than good because your pores are so open.


Skin Care Ingredients Retinol & Benzoyl Peroxide 

Known for its effectiveness for fighting acne, these two should never be combined. 

Benzoyl peroxide is a topical antiseptic that’s commonly used to treat acne, and retinoids are known to diminish breakouts by replacing the dead skin cells with new ones.

In addition, the two ingredients together cancel each other out making them both less effective and potentially increasing the chance of irritation when layered.

What to do instead:

  • Use benzoyl peroxide as part of your morning routine and retinol for your nighttime routine. 
  • If you want to use benzoyl peroxide for solving your acne woes, it’s best if you pair it with a prescription-grade ingredient called topical clindamycin. 
  • Retinol is better suited with hydrating glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide-based formulas.

Retinol & AHA or BHA

Retinol is a topical vitamin A treatment that helps stimulate collagen production and cell turnover from the deeper layers up – not in the uppermost layers. It’s designed to help reduce fine lines, clogged pores, and skin discoloration. Those uppermost layers are where AHA or BHA steps in to help skin shed unhealthy, dead, built-up skin cells.

Don’t mistake flaking for exfoliation, whether from retinol or AHAs or BHAs. Using the two ingredients at the exact same time is never a good idea since this can lead to dryness and irritation.

What to do instead:

Begin by using a glycolic acid once a week and see how your skin reacts. Then incorporate a retinol product once a week but don’t use retinol and glycolic the same week. If you have sensitive or dry skin, start at an even slower pace. Listen to your skin. Some amount of peeling, flaking and redness is normal, but if it seems extreme or is very uncomfortable, stop using it. 

Skin Care Ingredients Hydroquinone & AHAs

Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent designed to bleach the skin. It’s typically used to treat hyperpigmentation, melasma, age spots, acne scars, and other dark spots on the skin.

Hydroquinone does not play well with benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide, or other peroxide products. Not only will pairing them cause irritation and dryness, but it can also temporarily stain your skin. 

Because hydroquinone can cause irritation on its own avoiding other potentially irritating ingredients, such as alpha hydroxy acids, aka AHAs, including glycolic, lactic, and citric varieties.

Niacinamide + Vitamin C

Niacinamide can improve skin hydration by preventing evaporation of moisture. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, so it’s great for calming irritated skin but also good for people with sensitive skin.

Avoid combining niacinamide with vitamin C because that can decrease the efficacy of vitamin C.

What to do instead:

Apply vitamin C in the morning, under sunscreen, and reserve niacinamide for evening use.



It’s vital when mixing skincare ingredients that you have the knowledge needed to do it correctly and effectively. If not, consider my 30 minute virtual skin care plan to determine the right skin care products for you with a lifestyle approach for your homecare.


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