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Skin care combinations: How useful or harmful can these be?

Skin care combinations: How useful or harmful can these be?

Thinking to care for your skin by mixing and matching skin care products containing different active ingredients? Then you should take a pause and give a second thought about this thing. Because wrong fusion can give you skin irritation, inflammation or more allergic reactions. For example, mixing Vitamin C products like vitamin C serum or face wash with chemical exfoliators like AHA/BHA is completely a wrong choice as this combination work adversely affects the skin.

Ingredients to avoid using together

Ingredients to avoid using together



Using two acids together can be beneficial, but depends what they do for skin. AHA and BHA have somewhat anti relationships. Both are hydroxy acids and are known as alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA).

AHAs like glycolic acid are known as a potent exfoliating agent that removes excess oil, dirt, grime and dead skin cells from the skin very effectively. On the other hand, BHA like salicylic acid is well renowned more for its anti-acne action, but it is also a good exfoliator.

Now, both are good exfoliators but in combination, like using AHA following BHA can extremely dry out your skin or make skin more irritated and inflamed. Therefore, use both the ingredients in different routines or at different times, but not together.

Also know that AHA is water-soluble, hence exfoliating the outer skin layer more effectively and BHA is oil soluble, hence can go deep down the skin to cleanse and exfoliate. It will help to make your mind when and how to use AHA and BHA for skin.

Niacinamide + AHA/BHA

Niacinamide is a potent skin-friendly ingredient, many of you also know this with the name of vitamin B3. This vitamin is best known to revive the damaged skin cells, enhances its turnover and also exerts a specific action against breakouts. It is what every skin wants. But, is it safe to use a product with this vitamin along with AHA/BHA?

The answer is no. The reason is not the roles they do, it's more actually due to the different pH of both the active ingredients. Niacinamide has more alkaline pH, whereas the AHAor BHA has acidic pH. Together, they can adversely affect the pH of skin, which can lead to flushing and redness of the skin.

Vitamin C + AHA/BHA

Like AHA and BHA, vitamin C is an acid, known with the name of ascorbic acid. Moreover, it is an unstable vitamin. The use of both ingredients together like washing your face with AHA, afterwards applying vitamin C toner or serum, or using AHA toner and vitamin C serum can aggravate your skin, makes it red, itchy and tends to cause dryness. 

Vitamin C AHA BHA

Moreover, the AHA/BHA can also affect the efficacy of vitamin C. You can use these by giving a specific time between two ingredients but not together.

You can only use both types of ingredients together, when these are safely formulated in a one formulation by complying all the necessary requirements.

Vitamin C + Benzoyl Peroxide

What is benzoyl peroxide? Benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient that is used to treat the problem of pimples and active acne. Using this ingredient with vitamin C can counteract the efficacy of each other and benzoyl peroxide can also oxidize the unstable vitamin C. You can't experience the benefit of even one ingredient. Therefore, it is better to keep these two ingredients apart.

Vitamin C + Retinol

Retinol is the ingredient that improves collagen levels, improves skin integrity and revives overall skin health. On the other hand, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. Vitamin C helps in reducing the damage done by UV rays, including photoaging and hyperpigmentation.

Using retinol and vitamin C together will not work as vitamin C can degrade retinol into the skin and reduce its effectiveness. Therefore, you can say this combination also doesn't go well together.

Benzoyl Peroxide + AHA/BHA

As we know, both AHA and BHA are exfoliating agents, its combination with benzoyl peroxide can be detrimental. Benzoyl peroxide is on the other hand an acne-clearing agent.

Benzoyl Peroxide + Retinol

This combination also doesn't go well together as the benzoyl peroxide can oxidize the retinol and affects its efficacy. It is best to apply these at different times.

Chemical Exfoliators + Physical Exfoliators

The concept of not using chemical and physical exfoliators together is a little different. Using physical exfoliators upon chemical exfoliators or scrubs can really make your skin hyperactive. It can make your skin more dry. The reason behind this is the nature of both things you are using. One is chemical and the other is a physical exfoliator but the function of both is same.

 Chemical Exfoliators Physical Exfoliators

When you use both the things together, it actually aggressively works upon skin, exfoliates more than your skin needs in real life. This left skin dry out, itchy, tight and lifeless. So, use only one medium of exfoliation at one time.

Hyaluronic Acids + Face Oils

These both ingredients can work well together, the only thing you need to take before using both products together is the order you are applying them. Hyaluronic acid is water based, hence should be applied first and face oil comes at the end. This way you can get the benefits of both.

These are the combinations that you seriously look at before using together. Give a read to these before incorporating into your skincare routine. Now, also take a look on ingredients that work well together:

Ingredients that are best to use together

Vitamin C + Vitamin E

This is one of the best combinations you can adopt for daily routine. Do you know vitamin E itself is not that excellent, but when it combines with vitamin C, both work in a synergistic way to prevent the UV-induced damage and in repairing the damaged skin.

Ingredients that are best to use together

Vitamin C + E combination is a boon for skin. You can apply this combo in your night skin care routine to effectively revive and rejuvenate the skin.

Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid nature is to condition and moisturize the skin. On the other hand, vitamin C is known to repair the skin. The combination and overall aura of both active ingredients perfectly fits together in skin care. You can use it together during night or you can also try the face serum or toner formulated with both the ingredients. This works even in a more effective way to treat dull and dry skin.

Vitamin C + Ferulic Acid

Ferulic acid is a potent antioxidant that also aids to boost the other antioxidant's efficacy. In the case of vitamin C, ferulic acid is known to stabilize the vitamin C in the best way. Together, these two ingredients work in harmonious way. You can also use the face serums made of both active ingredients.

Niacinamide + Retinol

These both active ingredients also go well together as both tend to show similar benefits, but retinol is a little stronger than niacinamide. Niacinamide for skin acts as a hydrating and calming agent, reducing the chances of irritation that can occur due to retinol. Together these products really can be the best option.

Hyaluronic Acid + Retinols

Yes definitely, you can say it works in a perfect fit like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients don't let down each other's activity. Moreover, together these are proven to be more beneficial in skin care.

 Hyaluronic Acid Retinols

These are the active ingredients combination list that you can certainly use in combination. Now, all these ingredients actually need to apply in an order and at a perfect time. You should also be aware of that. Let's take a look at this as well:

How to correctly layer these skin care ingredients?

When it comes to applying skin care products, it is very essential to apply these products in the correct order. We can also call it the layering of skin care products.

So, we can layer the products in two ways:

  • One based on the consistency of the skin care products i.e. light weight or heavy weight.

  • Other way is to layer the products as per the pH of the active ingredients of the products.

1. Layering As Per The Product Consistency:

Talking about consistency and what product should apply first, then start with the product of lightest consistency, for instance, toners and serums and end your routine with the heaviest cream of lotion. But this should be done, why can't we apply the serum later or cream earlier?

Layering As Per The Product Consistency


  • The reason is very simple. The creams and lotions are heavy that layer the skin to moisture the upper most layer and make a shield around the layer to prevent water loss. If you apply light consistency products above such creams, these products aren't able to penetrate that thick product layer.

  • Also, application of toners and serums first help these products to absorb better into the skin. The thick layer above then not only prevents the skin water loss but also shields these products and intact its effectiveness.

So, your layering should somewhat be like Cleanser>Toner>Serum>Moisturizer>Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.

2. Layering As Per The Product Active Ingredients:

Now, layering as per active ingredients is based on their pH levels, specifically the acids and vitamins.

Layering As Per The Product Active Ingredients

  • The pH of healthy skin is around 4.5 - 5.5, which can be taken as a little acidic side. So, the active ingredients like AHA/BHA/Vitamin C are acidic and have pH near 3.2-3.9. Application of these toners first to the skin helps to balance the pH, which makes skin supple and hydrated.

  • On the other hand, active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, retinol or peptides are of high pH, aorund4.5 to 7. This makes it of little alkaline nature. Products of this pH are more into the skin barrier protection, so applying it later will help to provide skin the needed protection.

This is the chemistry of pH of skin and active ingredients that you should keep in mind and use accordingly.

What is the correct time to use these ingredients?

There are basically two routes of skincare: morning and evening. Do you know that you should also take care of what product you should use at what time as per their active ingredients?

What is the correct time to use these ingredients

  • Talking about the AHA and BHA, which are good exfoliators can be used in both routines to cleanse or tone the face. If your major concern is hyperpigmentation, dark spots or blemishes, then you should go for AHA. However, if your concern is the acne-prone skin, then you should go for BHA.

  • The same thing is with vitamin C. You can use vitamin C both the times. It can be used in the morning to prevent further UV-induced damage and in the evening as a repairing serum.

  • Next, if we talk about face oils, hyaluronic acid, peptides or retinol, then all these active ingredients work very well in the night routine. These all products work to rejuvenate, repair and replenish the skin. Application of these ingredients at night by means of serum, anti-aging creams or simple moisturizer will be very beneficial for your skin.

Take care of these things and plan your routine accordingly.

Sum Up

To add a little more fun in your skincare routine, add a little variety. Mix and match! However, when it comes to active ingredients, you need to be careful with what you use.

Now you are aware of the fact that when it comes to skin care, you should be careful while mixing different skin care ingredients. Such a combination can not only damage your skin but also can give rise to allergies and other skin problems. So always choose the right combination of skin care ingredients to get the best results.

FAQs related to skin care combinations:

Q. What do you mean by the active ingredients found in skin care?

Ans. Active Ingredients are the main ingredients of the product which actually act to address the skin problem after we use the concerned protect. For instance, vitamin C, retinol, AHA, BHA, benzoyl peroxide and many plant or fruit extracts, all are known to be the potent active ingredients that work magnificently for skin.

Q. What natural ingredients are known to be best for skin?

Ans. Natural ingredients like tea tree oil, grape seed extract, honey, rosemary extract, apple stem extract, coconut oil, shea butter and lentil extract are some of the best natural ingredients found to be best for skin care.

Q. What are the 3 best skin active ingredients combinations to be used on a daily basis?

Ans. Niacinamide + Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid + Retinoids and Vitamin C + Vitamin E are three best combinations as these work together in a synergistic manner to enhance the overall skin health and beauty.

Q. What are 3 worst skin active ingredients combinations to avoid at any cost?

Ans. Benzoyl peroxide + AHA/BHA, Vitamin C + Retinol and Physical + Chemical Exfoliators.

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