Skincare Actives: Which Ones Should and Shouldn't Be Combined

Skincare Actives: Which Ones Should and Shouldn't Be Combined

When building a skincare routine, it can be challenging to determine which active ingredients work well together. To help you avoid damaging your skin barrier and experiencing irritation, here is a list of active ingredients in skincare that you should and shouldn't combine.

Active ingredients you should combine:

  1. Retinols and Hyaluronic Acid: Retinol and hyaluronic acid complement each other effectively. By combining them, you can enhance the benefits of retinol while minimizing retinol irritation. Applying hyaluronic acid before retinol creates a barrier that offsets potential irritation, resulting in improved skin texture, reduced fine lines, and enhanced hydration.
  2. Vitamin C and SPF: Using vitamin C together with SPF creates a protective shield. This combination defends the skin from UV damage and boosts antioxidant defenses, reducing signs of premature aging, dark spots and pigmentation. Apply vitamin C serum in the morning before applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  3. Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid: Both niacinamide and hyaluronic acid are humectants that help keep the skin hydrated and maintain a healthy skin barrier. Applying hyaluronic acid first followed by niacinamide ensures optimal hydration and supports sebum production regulation and pore minimization. Using a hyaluronic acid serum followed by a niacinamide moisturizer helps lock in moisture. 


Active ingredients you shouldn't use together:

  1. Retinoid or Retinol and Vitamin C: Although both are effective for treating uneven skin tone and signs of aging. But, combining retinoids or retinol with vitamin C is probably not a good idea and can cause discomfort, skin irritation, and redness. It's best to use these ingredients on different days or separate them into a day and night routine. Apply vitamin C in the morning to protect against environmental damage and retinol in the evening to prevent deactivating, thus allowing sufficient time for its beneficial effects to take place.
  2. Retinol and Salicylic Acid: When confronted with both breakouts and signs of aging, you might feel tempted to combine these two components, as salicylic acid aids in minimizing the presence of blackheads, whiteheads, and unclogging pores & retinol is a gem, for individuals who are concerned with visible signs of aging. Using retinol and salicylic acid together can result in dryness, redness, and flaking. It's recommended to use salicylic acid in the morning and retinol at night, followed by a hydrating moisturizer.
  3. BHA + Benzoyl Peroxide: Using benzoyl peroxide and BHA (beta-hydroxy acid) together is considered too strong, as both act as exfoliants and are effective against acne. However, combining them at the same time can lead to excessive dryness and skin irritation. To avoid redness and peeling, it is recommended to apply them separately. Alternatively, if you wish to include both in your daily skincare routine, it is suggested to alternate the days of application.


In summary, when constructing a skincare routine, it's important to be mindful of which active ingredients can be combined and which ones should be used separately. 

By following these guidelines, you can optimize the effectiveness of your skincare regimen while minimizing the risk of skin damage and irritation.