Can Retinol and Vitamin C Be Used Together?

Can Retinol and Vitamin C Be Used Together?

In the overwhelming world of skincare, there are a few ingredients that really stand out from the crowd. Vitamin C and retinol are two powerhouses that truly live up to the hype and deliver unquestionable results. The question we are left with however, is what would happen if you were to team these two heavyweights together? Would it result in the best skin you have ever experienced? Or result in the biggest show-down of all time, leading to a skin disaster?

This is exactly what we plan to find out in today’s blog post. Now some of you skincare aficionados may be aware of how these potent powerhouses work on the skin and understand the most effective way of introducing it into your routine, feel free to skip to the next section. If, however, you’re new to all thing’s skincare, stick around as I will quickly explain the benefits each ingredient delivers to the skin.

What are the benefits of vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a form of ascorbic acid and is known for its antioxidant properties and collagen boosting abilities. Often found in various skincare formulas, with serums and moisturisers often being the favoured choice. The benefits of this potent powerhouse don’t stop there, here are some more examples.

  • Boosts the function of the natural skin barrier

As I have already mentioned, vitamin C is packed with antioxidants offering protection from exposure to oxidised stress to the skin. This stress occurs when free radicals, such as pollution, UV sun rays, and other environmental aggressors. Thanks to the antioxidant properties of vitamin C the natural skin barrier will remain strong and able to function properly.

  • Reduces skin redness

Vitamin C also contains anti-inflammatory properties meaning it can combat any inflammation or redness to the skin as well as preventing any further flare-ups.

  • Helps to brighten skin and reduce areas of hyperpigmentation

Over time vitamin C can brighten the complexion and target areas of hyperpigmentation on the skin. This is due to the vitamin working to inhibit the enzyme found in the skin responsible for producing melanin. By preventing melanin reaching areas of hyperpigmentation, you will find that after a few weeks, these dark spots will become significantly lighter and less noticeable to the naked eye.

  • Improves skin firmness and reduces signs of ageing

Vitamin C can work at increasing the production of collagen and elastin in the lower layers of the skin. The skin will begin to feel plumper, firmer, with a youthful complexion, with signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles notably reduced.

If you wanted to find out more about vitamin C, check out our dedicated blog post.

What are the benefits of retinol?

Retinol, is one the most popular derivatives of vitamin A. It’s available in various strengths in over-the-counter formulas, to prescription and professional treatments. Here are some of the main benefits you can expect when using this ingredient.

  • Combats acne and concerns with breakouts

Retinol works at increasing the speed of the skin cell cycle, revealing healthy, new skin cells, and unclogging the pores of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and other impurities. When these dead skin cells are left to accumulate on the surface they will result in breakouts, from one or two spots to frequent blemishes. Retinol can effectively treat the skin and reduce the number of blemishes and maintaining skin clarity.

  • Target areas of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone

Often mistaken to “exfoliate” the skin, as explained, retinol can increase the speed of skin cell cycle. By doing this, the skin is will appear to look brighter, but you’ll find its tone becomes more even, thicker, and smoother.

  • Reduce the signs of ageing

Known as being on the most effective anti-ageing skincare ingredients on the market. Retinol can make light work of reducing signs of ageing, from fine lines to deep-set wrinkles. It can do this by working in the dermis layer of the skin and boost collagen and elastin production.

If you wanted to find out more about retinol and what it can do for the skin, you can find your answers over on our website.

Is it OK to use retinol and vitamin C together?

Yes, it is OK to use retinol and vitamin C, but ideally not at the same time. This is important to remember as it removes any chance of the skin becoming too irritated.

With each ingredient delivering unique and similar results you may be tempted to layer the two together. The problem that will occur is the fact they work best at different pH levels and mixing products containing different pH levels then applying them onto the skin, which has another completely different pH level will result in irritation, and a lot of it! Not only that, but you’ll also find each active is unable to work to their potential which will basically result in you missing out on positive effects of these ingredients.

To gain optimal results, the best way of using retinol and vitamin C together is ensuring you leave plenty of time in between applications. Due to the nature of retinol requiring you to apply it in the evening, many find using vitamin C in the morning and retinol during their night-time routine is the easiest and most effective way of reaping the rewards of using both actives.

Do you put vitamin C on before or after retinol?

It’s considered best to apply vitamin C before retinol, ensuring you leave at least 30 minutes to allow the skin’s pH levels to rebalance as this will avoid unwanted reactions. Leaving this amount of time for the skin to stabilise and won’t become overloaded with too much acidy from both actives.

Another reason why it’s considered better to apply vitamin C before retinol is because of the consistency of the skincare formulas. The consistency of each product plays an important role and helping you to understand when to apply it.

For example, for the best result you should start with the thinnest consistency and work up to the thickest. Formulas such as cleansers and face washes are often the thinnest, followed with exfoliating toners, serums, moisturisers, face oils, and finally, a daily SPF during your morning routine. This allows each product to absorb effectively into the skin and not having to compete with physical barriers caused by thicker formulas.

Can I use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night?

Absolutely, you’ll find that many prefer to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night. This is because vitamin C not only protects the skin from oxidised stress that occurs throughout the day, but also gives the complexion a boost leaving it glowing and brightened.

Another important factor to remember is the fact that retinol should only be applied to skin in the evening. This is because once retinol encounters sunlight or UV exposure, it’s rendered completely useless. By increasing the speed of the skin cell cycle, you’ll find that retinol also increases the skin’s reaction to sun sensitivity. To avoid skin damage, it is vital you apply a daily SPF of factor 50 on the face, neck, and décolletage.

There you have it, a little more insight into using retinol and vitamin C together. Don’t forget to get in touch over on Instagram if you have any more questions.


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