Here’s What Skincare Products You Should Never Mix Together

Could your daily skincare potion be ruining your skin?

With beauty brands offering more potent ingredients in skincare than ever before, we’re all becoming our own at-home beauty mixologists. But, without a chemistry degree or dermatologist-approved beauty routine, do you really know what you should and shouldn’t be using together? From acids to retinols, here’s what you should never mix and match…

Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix

Retinol + Acne Treatments
Retinols are designed to speed up cell turnover and smooth the appearance of skin and fine lines. Because of this, they can often result in slight skin peeling from all the exfoliation. Pair this with a pure acne treatment (like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide) that are designed to slough away skin cells and dry up blemishes, and you’re in for a case of extreme dryness, redness and irritation. Ouch.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%, £8

Malin + Goetz Salicylic Gel, £18

Vitamin C + Acids
Vitamin C is one of the buzziest skincare ingredients around, as it’s amazing at brightening areas of pigmentation, stimulating collagen and protecting against environmental factors, like pollution. But, Vitamin C is an extremely unstable antioxidant – meaning you have to be careful what you use it with. Alpha Hydroxy Acids (such as glycolic and lactic acid – both found in chemical exfoliants and peels) and salicylic acid (in spot treatments) are too strong for Vitamin C to take – meaning they’ll change the pH and basically render it useless. Sad face.

Medik8 CE-Tetra Vitamin C Antioxidant Serum, £35

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2%, £5.50

Exfoliators + Skin Brightening Treatments
Whether it’s a toning lotion or grainy scrub, exfoliators work by encouraging dry and dead skin cells to be removed – so that your brand new, baby soft skin can shine through. Thing is, ‘brightening’ products often contain Alpha Hydroxy Acids, which encourage skin cells to peel and therefore do pretty much the same thing! This double dose of exfoliation can lead to your skin becoming sensitive and super dry.

PIXI Peel & Polish Resurfacing Concentrate, £26

REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial, £32

Retinol + Alpha Hydroxy Acids + The Sun!
Using retinol and AHAs together is another recipe for redness and irritation. Both increase photosensitivity in the skin – meaning you’re at a much higher risk of burning, even in cloudy weather! If you’re using any kind of retinol or skin brightening AHA make sure you’re wearing a daily SPF 50, and use them in the evening to further lessen the risk of UV damage.

So which skincare ingredients can you mix?

Retinol or AHAs + Hyaluronic Acid
When using a retinol, AHA or other exfoliating product, it’s important to replenish hydration back into the skin. Hyaluronic Acids are light enough for retinol to still penetrate through, yet give your skin an instant hit of moisture and help with irritation.

Institut Esthederm Intensive Retinol Oil Serum, £63

Skinceuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier, £82.95

Vitamin C + Vitamin E
Up your dose of daily vitamins by using C + E together in your skincare. Together, they work to penetrate into different levels of the skin, reducing the appearance of acne scars, hyperpigmentation and protecting the skin from environmental factors.

Sunday Riley CEO Protect+ Repair Moisturiser, £60

5 Methods To Remember When Mixing Skincare Ingredients

  • Always apply retinol at night, and use an SPF in the day!
  • Lock your skincare serums in with a moisturiser, don’t moisturise first as some serums can’t penetrate through!
  • Hyaluronic Acid is everyone’s hydrating best friend
  • Only use one exfoliating treatment at a time
  • If your skin stings, feels tight or looks very red – take a few days off!