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.
Your skin requires a low pH level (0 to about 3.5)to absorb Vitamin C, while Retinol requires a higher pH level (around 5.5 to 6). When you mix Vitamin C and Retinol, the pH of vitamin C increases and the pH of Retinol decreases — hence why it's believed that the two ingredients render each other ineffective.
Apply your vitamin C first, since it has the lower pH of the two. Then, wait half an hour before you apply your retinol. Incorporating the waiting period allows your skin's pH to return to normal, so each ingredient can work at its intended pH.
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.
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.
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.
Vitamin C works best in combination with Vitamin E, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin B, and Hyaluronic Acid.
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.
AHAs and BHAs, such as glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids should never be used with Vitamin C. Vitamin C is an acid, too, and is unstable, so the pH balance will be thrown off by layering these ingredients together and might as well be useless.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
If you're wondering when to apply a vitamin C serum, the answer is both morning and night, after cleansing and toning. One study even recommends applying a vitamin C serum every eight hours, or twice daily for the pinnacle of protection.
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.
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.
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."
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.
Hyaluronic acid is best if they're looking to moisturize dry skin, while retinol works better by encouraging better skin by boosting collagen production. They have several benefits that can work in tandem for better results, though patients need to be careful with the exact formulations they use.
STEP 4: APPLY YOUR HYALURONIC ACID
If you are using it in serum form, you'll apply it immediately after your retinol. If it is part of your moisturizer, it will be your last step. That allows it to truly harness its power as an emollient and seal in both your other products and moisture.
Use vitamin C for hyperpigmentation caused by melanin and use niacinamide if your skin can't handle vitamin C. Keep in mind this is a very hard and fast rule because they aren't easy to compare without really knowing your skin concerns and skin sensitivity.
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.