6 Skincare Ingredient Combinations To Avoid

Every day, we layer multiple skincare ingredients on our skin to reap as many benefits as possible. From toner and serum to essence and moisturizer, we’ve learned the right way to layering our skincare products for the best results.

However, before you channel your inner scientist, there are certain ingredients that should never be combined. That means if your toner and moisturizer contain ingredients that don’t play well together, it may be the reason why your skin is getting worse instead of improving.

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Layering your skincare products with little information about the ingredients can lead to skin irritation or even worse – burns. That is why it’s so important to check the ingredients list and educate yourself with the scientific words to look out for before purchasing a new skincare product. Don’t let yourself get caught up in nasty aftermath from layering the wrong products with this guide of combinations to avoid.

1. Vitamin C + AHAs/BHAs

This is truly a recipe for disaster because they’re all acids. Using this combination in your skincare routine can irritate your skin badly, especially if you have sensitive or dry skin. Even if your skin is very tolerable to various ingredients, this combination wouldn’t work effectively since AHAs can alter the pH level of vitamin C and diminish its antioxidant properties.

2. Vitamin C + Retinol

There’s a reason why experts always advise us to tread carefully when using vitamin C skincare products! Vitamin C is inherently unstable, hence the tinted or opaque bottles it’s packaged in. It is also highly concentrated and so by combining it with retinol, another highly concentrated active ingredient, one can only imagine how harmful the mixture could be to the skin. Vitamin C has high antioxidant properties and works well when combined with sunscreen to combat photosensitivity. On the other hand, retinol and sunlight are enemies and using retinol can make your skin photosensitive. Therefore, it’s best to use these ingredients separately – vitamin C in the morning and retinol in the evening.

3. Retinol + Retinol

Just because they’re from the same family, doesn’t mean they’ll go hand-in-hand! You’ll only be doing more harm than good if you apply two retinol products together thinking that it’ll be more effective. The active ingredient is only going to inflame your skin and cause it to flake and itch. This is an absolutely important rule to follow, especially if you’re using facial retinol followed by a retinol eye cream. Your delicate under-eye area might react worse to the combination.

4. Retinol + AHAs/BHAs

Retinol does an excellent job of stimulating cell turnover and exfoliating the skin. However, AHAs and BHAs also work to exfoliate the skin’s surface. By adding a layer of exfoliating product on top of another, you could risk your skin from burning and turning into a serious tomato redness. You can use them separately on alternate days or simply choose one or the other to prevent aggravating your skin.

5. Benzoyl Peroxide + Retinol

Many people turn to benzoyl peroxide for effective acne treatment but since it’s also known to dry the skin out, your skin may not be able to tolerate it when mixed with retinol. Fredric Brandt, a New York City and Miami-based dermatologist shared with Allure that benzoyl peroxide and retinol have the opposite effect and the combination of those two ingredients has been shown to deactivate each other. This is because benzoyl peroxide will oxidize retinol and reduce its effectiveness.

6. Water-based + Oil-based products

What happens when you add oil into water? The oil will float on top of the water. Similar to this theory, your skincare products should have the same consistency to work effectively in tackling your skin issues. Thankfully, this combination will not be harmful to your skin but it’ll be a total waste of money and effort. Neither of the products will be absorbed into the skin but will leave a sticky residue on the surface. To solve this problem, apply your water-based product and give it a few minutes to seep into the skin before applying the oil-based product.

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