Can You Mix Retinol and AHA BHA?

Can You Mix Retinol and AHA BHA?

As you may already know, retinol, AHAs and BHAs are potent skin ingredients that over the years have made their way into our everyday routine. However, this hasn't been an easy task, especially when it comes to introducing something as potent as retinol into your regime. The question we have though is, can you mix retinol with AHA and BHA? This could be something that can cause some potential drying side effects and irritation, but don’t panic, as this is something we will be covering in today’s blog and with any luck we will reducing any concerns you have about using these three powerhouse ingredients together.

If you are sat there wondering what exactly these ingredients do for the skin, you can check out the dedicated blog post we have about everything you need to know about them, so check those out to find out more.

What is retinol? And how does it work on the skin?

What are AHAs and BHAs?

Now, you’ve refreshed your knowledge of these clever formulas, let’s get stuck in!

Can you use AHA BHA and retinol together?

Yes and no, there is a strong divide between skincare experts about whether you can use retinol with AHAs and BHAs. Both sides do however recommend using these effective ingredients in your daily skincare routine, it’s just a case of establishing how they would fit in and finding the optimal time you can apply them.

The easiest way to incorporate these ingredients in your routine is to use products, such as exfoliating toners enriched with an AHA, like glycolic acid, or BHA, such as salicylic acid. You can then follow this in the evening with a retinol product, this allows enough time to pass in between applications to avoid any irritation or imbalance of the skin’s pH levels allowing it to correct itself.

If you have a dry skin type that is prone to increased sensitivity you should use these powerful acids and retinol with caution. This is because retinol and the most used BHA, salicylic acid requires you introduce them slowly into your regime. Begin by applying it once a week and then slowly increase the frequency overtime to every other night once the skin has built its tolerance.

Can you use retinol and AHA in the same week?

Yes, it’s absolutely fine to use AHA and retinol in the same week, just make sure you are using the products the correct way. It’s considered best to avoid layering AHAs, such as glycolic acid, with retinol. This is due to the high potency and exfoliating properties of the acid will strip the skin surface of the vital oil and water it needs to remain healthy.

The protective skin barrier plays an important role in maintaining the overall look and comfort of the complexion, when it lacks the correct levels of sebum (the natural oil found on the surface) and water its strength is depleted making it suspectable to skin damage caused from exposure to free radicals, such as pollution, UV rays and other environmental aggressors.

Having said that, the skin benefits both AHAs and retinol provide also play an important role of keeping the complexion healthy. Therefore, when using them in your routine you must figure out the most effective way to reap the rewards without any unwanted skin irritation. There are a few different ways you can do this, here are some examples of the most popular.

  • Apply AHA and retinol at different times of the day

This allows you to benefit from the various skin results without causing too much disruption for the skin. Very few of us know that an imbalance in pH levels on the skin is often one of the main causes of skin irritation. Applying AHA enriched products in the morning and following this with retinol during your evening skincare routine allows enough time for the skin's pH levels to rebalance and becomes fully absorbent. 

  • Alternate the days of the week you apply each ingredient

Retinol is an ingredient that needs to be applied in the evening due to exposure to UV light making it lose its potency, rendering it useless on the skin. You will also find that retinoids should only be applied to the skin 3-4 times a week, this leaves you the option to use your an AHA product on the days you aren’t using retinol. This will result in your skin reaping the rewards of these powerhouse products whilst side stepping any skin reaction or negative side effects.

As I have already mentioned you skin type will also determine whether these ingredients are safe to use, so always check with a medical professional before applying any new formulas to your face.

Can you use retinol and salicylic acid together?

Combining retinol and salicylic acid can often lead to a skin drying disaster. When using them in your routine you need to give your skin enough time to build its tolerance. However, some skincare experts have expressed their concerns about layering salicylic acid and retinol together. Using two extremely potent ingredients together will be too much for the skin surface and will weaken the protective barrier resulting in the skin showing signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and areas of hyperpigmentation.

Here is an example of how to use salicylic acid and retinol in the most optimal way.

  • Clean the skin with a gentle, non-foaming cleanser
  • Soak a cotton disc with an exfoliating toner enriched in salicylic acid and sweep it around the face, avoiding the eye area
  • Whilst the skin is still slightly damp, apply a serum enriched in hyaluronic acid to lock moisture into the skin and counteract the drying effects of salicylic acid and retinol
  • Follow this with an eye cream, remembering to use your ring finger for application to avoid skin tugging
  • Apply another serum or face oil packed with retinol all over the skin avoiding the eyes and mouth
  • Lock extra nourishment into the skin with a rich moisturiser

Can I use BHA in the morning?

Yes, you can but many feel that because BHA, such as salicylic acid often increases the skin’s sensitivity to UV exposure leading to skin damage. This is why you’ll find many apply a BHA enriched product in the evening as this will allow the ingredient to work on the skin undisturbed whilst you sleep. Not forgetting to follow this with a daily SPF of 30 and above to keep the skin surface fully protected from further skin damage. 

There you have a little more information about mixing retinol and AHA with BHA, don’t forget if you have any more skincare questions come and follow us on Instagram, you’ll find me in the direct messages, see you there!


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