Whether you like exfoliating your skin or prefer to avoid it, there is no denying you will see a notable difference in the complexion. Luckily, we no longer need to rely on using physical scrubs to rid the skin surface of unwanted build-up. Chemical exfoliation is nothing new, but its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with many of us having an exfoliating toner in our skincare routine.
The question we are left with, with all these acids, are there some that should be avoided and others that work more effectively if teamed together. The two main ingredients we will be taking a closer look into are vitamin C and Beta Hydroxy Acids, also known as BHA. So, stick around if you wanted to find out more about how these powerhouses work on the skin, the benefits they deliver, and whether you can mix BHA and vitamin C.
What are the benefits of BHAs?
BHAs, stands for beta hydroxy acids, and are a collection of chemical exfoliants that work deeper in the skin compared to their cousins, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). They are oil-soluble meaning they are highly effective at combating problematic and acne prone skin.
They do this by ridding the skin of excess sebum, unclog the pores of bacteria, debris, and other impurities. These often build-up over time and develop into blemishes, such as whiteheads, congested skin, and a dull complexion. Due to their high potency, you should ideally avoid teaming these with other acids. This is because the risk of irritation is increased resulting in the skin becoming itchy, blotchy, red, and sometimes have sore rashes.
The most common BHA used in an array of skincare products is salicylic acid. This acid is derived from willow bark and has a smaller molecular size meaning it can penetrate the lower layers of the skin preventing any further flare-ups in breakouts and reducing inflammation. The main benefits of salicylic acid are as follows.
- Helps unclog pores of bacteria, dirt, and debris that can build-up and result as whiteheads, blackheads, and other blemishes.
- Helps to reduce and regulate the production of sebum in the skin, this is particularly useful for those with oily and acne-prone skin.
- Rids the skin surface of dead skin cells that can cause breakouts and make the complexion dull and lack lustre.
- Contains anti-inflammatory properties meaning it can help counteract and redness or inflammation on the skin.
- If you wanted to know more about salicylic acid and other BHAs, check out our dedicated blog post.
What are the benefits of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic and L-ascorbic acid is a potent antioxidant and effective skincare active that can help with several concerns.
- Supports the lipid barrier ensuring it is strong enough to protect the skin from free radicals, such as pollution, UV rays, central heating, and other oxidised stress.
- Helps to brighten the skin and minimise the appearance of hyperpigmentation. It can do this by inhibiting enzymes that produce melanin which contributes to pigmentation in the skin.
- Contains anti-inflammatory properties meaning vitamin C can target skin redness.
- Boosts collagen production resulting in the skin becoming firmer and maintain the skin’s elasticity and giving the skin a youthful bounce.
- Want to know more about vitamin C? Check out our dedicated blog post about it over on The Beauty Insiders.
Now we have had a brief recap on the benefits of BHAs and vitamin C, let’s explore further and find out how to use them together effectively.
Can I use BHA and vitamin C together?
Yes, you can, but only in a certain way to prevent skin irritation. Here are some examples of the best way to use them together.
Option One- Apply them during different times of day
Because both acids have an acidic pH level, layering them on top of each other will cause an imbalance to the skin pH resulting in irritation. To avoid this, it is best to leave enough time in between applications, many find the luminous glow, and antioxidant protection delivered by vitamin C gives optimal results when applied during their morning routine. Follow this with your BHA in the evening allowing it to work on the skin without being disturbed by exposure to free radicals.
Option Two- Apply them on different evenings
If you find the first option will cause irritation to the skin, you can instead opt to use vitamin C and BHA during separate evenings. This will ensure each ingredient can deliver results without having to battle against daily skin aggressors. Although vitamin C is often considered best to apply during the day, you’ll find because of its antioxidant properties it is just as effective when used in the evening as it’s able to work at repairing existing damage as well as preventing further damage to develop on the skin.
There you have two popular options, however there is another option that is most suitable for those who have a tolerance to both ingredients. You can layer vitamin C on top of a BHA, you just need to ensure you leave about 20 minutes in between applications to allow the skin to settle and prepare for the following steps of your routine.
Which goes first vitamin C or BHA?
If your skin has a good tolerance to use both ingredients during the same routine, it’s best to apply your BHA product first. The reason for this is because it’s an oil soluble product meaning it can penetrate the deeper layers of the skin. It can also slough away the build-up of dead skin cells and dirt ridding the skin of any barrier allowing vitamin C and other actives to absorb rapidly and show results quicker.
If you have any concerns with using any of these ingredients, you should seek a consultation with a doctor or trained professional. I would also suggest performing a patch test for 24 hours as this will help you determine whether these actives are suitable for you and your skin needs.
I hope that this has answered any questions you had about mixing BHA and vitamin C together. Don’t forget to get in touch with one of our skincare experts over on our Instagram.