Can You Use Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C Together?

Can You Use Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C Together?

With millions of blog posts and articles about skincare products and routines you may find it hard to know where to begin, or even which ingredients work for your skin type. This is why I’m here, hoping to clear the fog of any confusion around any questions you may have about whether or not you can use glycolic acid and vitamin C together?

Layering your skincare products isn’t anything new, have you ever had a facial in a lovely spa before it amount of layers that are applied and then taken off is astonishing. Not only is this designed to feel relaxing, you will also find it’s the ideal way of reaping the rewards of the active ingredients used and leave the room glowing! There’s nothing stopping you from doing your own mini version on a daily basis, it’s just a case of figuring out which work together.

Can vitamin C be used with glycolic acid?

This boils down to pH levels, I understand this is something you haven’t thought about since a secondary school science lesson, but this is an important factor to remember when using skincare ingredients together. Vitamin C for example has a reputation for being unstable when it isn’t formulated into balancing skin products, such as serums. You’ll find that in these formulas vitamin C is on the  acidic side of the pH scale at around 3, but effective at delivering results. You want to keep it at around this level when you apply it onto the skin as the pH levels are also acidic.

As for glycolic acid and other chemical exfoliants they have a much lower pH level that is acidic. If you use both vitamin C and glycolic acid together in either one product or layered quickly on top of each other this may result in the skin becoming irritated with flare-ups of redness and rashes.

This can be frustrating as both of these ingredients work wonders for the skin, but no need to throw the towel in yet! Instead try applying vitamin C in your morning routine and then use a glycolic acid toner in the evening to rid the skin of any build-up of dirt and debris keeping your skin balanced, healthy and benefiting from the endless results you’ll see when using glycolic acid and vitamin C.

Can you use AHA and vitamin C together?

As I have already mentioned, it’s important to remember to keep the pH levels in your skincare routine balanced and working effectively together. Any form of AHA will have a similar effect as glycolic acid so just ensure you use it the same way I described. One important point to take into consideration is your skin type as this will determine which (if any) AHAs you can use and how often you can use them in your daily routine. Oily skin types for example will benefit from glycolic acid and the BHA salicylic acid, whilst more dry skins will prefer lactic acid or the gentle PHAs. As always, I strongly suggest that if you are new to any of these ingredients you must perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying any of the product on your skin.

If you have read this paragraph and come to realise you actually don’t know which skin type you are, then check out our blog posts about the most common skin types.

Which goes first vitamin C or glycolic acid?

When considering ingredients such as glycolic acid, and other AHAs, all have a pH level between 3 and 4. When applied to the skin these acids cause its pH levels to alter, this can often result in unwanted side effects and prevent other ingredients from working. Many experts suggest you start by applying acid first, as this creates the optimal conditions for vitamin C to penetrate into the epidermis and improve the overall look and feel of the complexion. 

Just ensure you leave 15 minutes in between applications to allow the skin to settle and pH levels to rebalance before any further ingredients are applied. 

What can you not mix with vitamin C?

There are a few ingredients that try as you might, won’t play nicely together. These are the following that should not be mixed with vitamin C:

Why should you not mix benzoyl peroxide and vitamin C

Benzoyl peroxide is one of the most used ingredient for combating acne and breakouts. It has the ability to kill the acne causing bacteria but is very potent and can result in dry, flaky patches of skin. When you apply vitamin C with benzoyl peroxide you’ll find the vitamin C will become oxidised and will counteract the impressive results of both ingredients.

Why should you not mix retinol and vitamin C

Retinol is a notoriously potent skincare ingredient, known for its side effects of skin peeling and flakiness. Well, believe it or not applying vitamin C with it will escalate these and lead to a skin that is irritated, sore and itchy. To avoid these its best to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol during your evening routine.

Why should you not mix niacinamide and vitamin C

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin b3 and is a potent skin ingredient with multiple abilities to help even out skin tone, prevent any fine lines and wrinkles and restore a healthy glow. These are some of benefits you can expect to see on the skin when using vitamin C and if you team these two ingredients together they simply cancel each other out, leaving you with no results and wasted products.  

What can you combine glycolic acid with?

Many skin experts rave about the results you can achieve when using glycolic acid and other forms of AHAs and BHAs, such as salicylic acid. The downside is if you overdo it on these acids you can unintentionally strip the skin of vital oil and water it needs in the barrier to remain healthy and functioning correctly. By all means use the acids that work for your skin type, but take it easy and alternate the products you use.

One ingredient that can form a power duo with glycolic acid is hyaluronic acid. This ultimate hydrating powerhouse is especially effective at locking moisture into the skin and giving it a boost in hydration helping to keep things balanced, comfortable and glowing.

How do you use glycolic acid and vitamin C serum?

By now you understand that its best to avoid using these ingredients together in the same product, but you are able to use them in the same routine. Here is a quick cheat sheet on how you can use glycolic acid and vitamin C together:

  1. Cleanse
  2. Toner (containing glycolic acid)
  3. Serum (containing vitamin C)
  4. Eye cream
  5. Moisturiser
  6. SPF

There are of course serums and similar products that contain glycolic acid but from my own experience I find the most effective way of using this AHA in your routine is by using a toner, it makes light work of remaining traces of impurities and build-up of dead skin cells without staying on your skin too long to result in irritation.

Is vitamin C better in the morning or night?

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascrobic acid, is an ingredient that contains huge amounts of antioxidant properties making it highly effective at combating free radical damage that occurs when your skin comes into contact with pollution, exposure to UV rays and other environmental skin stresses. There is nothing stopping you from using this potent vitamin twice a day, but I find that using it in your morning skincare routine enables it to work throughout the day fighting off any free radicals resulting in less damage to the skin.

If you have kept up to date with the other posts about layering skin ingredients on The Beauty Insiders blog, well by now you’re basically an expert! Don’t forget you can find out more over on our Instagram so come and join us!

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