The truth: You can use vitamin C with retinol and retinoids. Get them as separate products so you can tailor the concentration of each and use them at the right time of day. Although vitamin C can be used day or night, it is ideal for daytime use, while retinol and retinoids should be applied at night.
It's best to apply Vitamin C before Retinol, as Vitamin C has a lower pH than Retinol. Once your skin absorbs the Vitamin C serum, your skin will return to its regular pH levels after 30 minutes or so. (You want your skin to return to its normal pH levels so vitamin C doesn't lower the pH of retinol.)
Retinol shouldn't be used with Vitamin C either, because they're both active ingredients. Retinol helps build collagen but it also creates skin cell turnover, so using it with an acid like Vitamin C can cause more irritation. Instead, use retinol at night and Vitamin C during the day.
Don't Mix: Retinol with vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids. AHA and BHA acids are exfoliating, which can dry out skin and cause further irritation if your skincare routine already includes retinol. As for benzoyl peroxide and retinol, they cancel each other out.
Niacinamide and retinol can be combined in one product, which may be easier and more convenient. But they're also available as separate products. If you're using these ingredients in separate products, it's recommended to apply niacinamide first and to then follow with retinol.
Is it a good idea to combine Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid in a skincare routine? Yes. These ingredients work well when used individually and even better when paired together.
Vitamin C works best in combination with Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin B, and Hyaluronic Acid.
Many people wonder when the best time is to use their Vitamin C products. While some associate Vitamin C with daytime, others believe nights and evenings are best to use their Vitamin C-infused products. The truth is, Vitamin C can work effectively in the days or evenings.
Though it's perfectly fine to use vitamin C and retinol or retinoids in your skincare routine, each is better suited to a different time of day. Vitamin C is best used in the morning, while retinoids are better for your nighttime skincare routine.
Not only can you use vitamin C and hyaluronic acid together, but when you do, they can help create a more effective skincare routine. Each one has skincare benefits, some of which we mentioned, but when combined, they can form a more potent formula that offers increased results.
Use Retinol Only at Night and Wear SPF Every Day
"Retinol makes your skin more sensitive to UV rays and sunlight decreases the efficacy of the product," explains Bowe, who instructs patients to only use retinoids at night and be diligent about applying a daily broad-spectrum SPF 30 or higher during the day.
Well, when it comes right down to it, the choice is really in what you're looking to do for your skin. While vitamin C is incredible for the skin because of its ability to help brighten and improve hyperpigmentation, the best active ingredient for wrinkles is retinol.
Use your vitamin C serum first, and let it dry.
Then "Let vitamin C completely dry prior to placing niacinamide," says Lamm. That way, the ascorbic acid has a chance to settle into the skin, and there's a smaller chance of combining the two actives.
Now that we know it's a perfectly safe combination, feel free to mix niacinamide and vitamin C to your heart's content. However, if you still feel nervous about combining the two ingredients on your sensitive skin, you can always use niacinamide in the morning and vitamin C at night, or even alternate days.
You should use hyaluronic acid after retinol. And to maximise the benefits, you should use retinol first and then wait at least 30 minutes before applying hyaluronic acid.
Niacinamide With Vitamin C Are a Winning Combination
This means that you're safe to use both niacinamide and vitamin C, either together in the same product, or combined from different products that you layer one over the other.
Using niacinamide before retinol works well. So does combining them into one product. A 2016 study found that a product containing retinol, niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and resveratrol improved fine lines, sallowness, wrinkling, hyperpigmentation, and skin tone.
Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide
These water-based treatments are a great pair and are made for all skin types — especially babes with dry, acne-prone skin. You'll find niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, in my Rewind Retinol Serum. Use hyaluronic acid first, followed by my retinol for the best results.
While the two ingredients are similar, they also have their differences. "Because it's a mild acid, vitamin C also gives you more of an exfoliating and brightening effect than niacinamide," says Dr. Lee. "Niacinamide has a greater impact in terms of hydrating the skin."
Main Differences Between Vitamin C Serum and Retinol Serum
While Vitamin C serum predominantly protects your skin from damage, retinol serum actively heals the damage on your skin. Vitamin C serum protects the collagens while the Retinol serum helps in cell turn over thereby creating new collagens.
"Because vitamin C serum helps protect your skin from free radicals, most dermatologists have recommended applying it in the morning to prevent damage during the day," says Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Retinol is best applied at night, since it can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun. When you do go outside, be sure to use sunscreen to protect your face. Also, keep in mind that you don't need to use retinol on a daily basis for it to be effective at treating acne. Two to three times per week may be enough.
While vitamin C can be used in the morning or evening, most prefer to apply it during the day since its antioxidant properties act as a shield to deflect pollution and other environmental aggressors.
If you are applying a Vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid separately, it's suggested that you apply the Vitamin C first, and then add the hyaluronic acid afterward in order to help fortify the skin barrier and lock in the moisture.
So you can apply your vitamin C first, let it dry completely, then apply your hyaluronic acid. Just remember to top everything off with a moisturizer—you still want to seal in the HA to lock in the hydration.