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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
We all have different skin needs and routines, but as a general rule, we recommend incorporating vitamin C into your skincare regime every—or every other—morning. We specify morning, because the antioxidant helps to protect from things like pollution and UV light, which you're typically exposed to throughout the day.
1. Use vitamin C serums in the morning. There's certainly no law against using vitamin C products in the evening, but you may get the most benefit from using them in the morning. “In general vitamin C products should be applied in the morning before heading out for the day, when UV radiation is at its highest,” Dr.
At night, apply a natural Retinol serum that works to tighten the skin and mitigate wrinkles, fine lines, and other imperfections while you sleep. Using Vitamin C in the morning and Retinol at night provides your skin with the ultimate brightening and firming treatment.
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.
Vitamin C serum (leave to absorb for 1-2 minutes)
Dr Khan explains: “With vitamin C, you want to get the most out of the product by not diluting it. A couple of minutes should be an adequate time for the product to dry down before you go in with your next step.”
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.
We recommend that beauty lovers use our Vitamin C Serum after cleansing, exfoliating, masking, and/or toning — but always before moisturizing. All you have to do is apply a couple pumps of serum to clean fingers, and gently press the product evenly over damp skin.
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.
Vitamin C and retinol are both found in topical products, so you use them by applying them to cleansed skin like you would most skincare. “Vitamin C is generally used in serums to allow for better absorption,” explains Thomas. “Retinol is also mainly used in serums and moisturizers.”
When should you apply each? Since vitamin C helps protect skin from the harmful effects of UV rays and free radicals, it's advised to apply it to your skin after cleanser in the morning. Retinol, on the other hand, can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, so dermatologists recommend applying retinol at night.
To reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of aging, vitamin C and retinol are two key ingredients to keep in your arsenal. Vitamin C is known for its brightening benefits, while retinol boosts cell turnover.
For prescription retinols, you'll typically apply this step onto dry skin before your moisturizer—but always check with your dermatologist. You may be advised to use it after a moisturizer, which buffers the retinol and lessens risk of irritation.
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.
No matter which form you choose to incorporate your hyaluronic acid, it should be close to the final step in your routine. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Goldenberg's go-to recommendation for timing between serums and moisturizers is about one minute. This wait has the same reasoning: Sixty seconds — give or take — gives each product a moment to delve into your pores.