Can You use Retinol After Glycolic Acid?

Can You use Retinol After Glycolic Acid?

When it comes to skincare, there’s no denying that glycolic acid and retinol are two powerhouse ingredients that have impressive results on the complexion. It's no wonder you’ll find them formulated into an array of products by several different brands.

If you have been around here for a while, you’ll not doubt have read about how to use retinol and glycolic acid in your everyday routine, but the question is- can you use retinol after glycolic acid? Let’s find out more about this together, if you need a reminder of what the benefits are of each of these ingredients, check out the blog post we have about glycolic acid and retinol over on The Beauty Insiders.

What do you use after glycolic acid?

Quite often you’ll find that glycolic acid is formulated into cleanser, exfoliating toners/pads, and serums. No matter which you decide to use in your routine following glycolic acid with a hydrating ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid or niacinamide will restore the skin water and oil levels in the skin barrier enabling it able to protect itself from exposure to free radicals. Using either a serum or moisturiser enriched in these ingredients will ensure hydration is locked into the skin surface whilst also forming a protective barrier preventing any further damage from occurring.

You can apply glycolic acid twice a day during your morning and evening routines, however, it is important to remember to use a daily SPF of 30 even on days that seem overcast and raining for UV protection.

What can you not mix with glycolic acid?

It is considered that using glycolic acid with another acid, in particular salicylic acid will result in the skin becoming very dry and irritated. This is because each acid works on different layers of the skin, glycolic acid on the outer surface sloughing away the layer of dead skin cells, and salicylic acid penetrating deeply into the pores and unclogging them of bacteria, debris, and other impurities. You’ll find that mixing ingredients as potent as these will lead to an imbalance in the pH levels of the skin as well as stripping it of the vital oils it requires to function correctly and keep itself protected from damage.

Don’t forget that if you are ever unsure of which ingredients you should apply to your skin, it is best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to avoid unwanted irritation.

Can I use glycolic acid with retinol and niacinamide?

Yes, you can, all three of these ingredients deliver impressive results to the skin. Understanding the best way of layering them will not only ensure they are able to perform on the skin but will also prevent any irritation or reactions. Ideally you should be using a glycolic acid enriched twice a day as this will rid the skin of impurity build-up. You should then follow this after 30 minutes with a serum containing niacinamide to help draw water back into the skin surface keeping the complexion plumped. For your evening routine, you can then apply a retinol product to work undisturbed whilst you catch up on your beauty sleep. Before trying any new skincare ingredients or formulas, I would strongly suggest performing a patch test for 24 hours before applying anything directly onto the face. This will help you get a better understanding of whether you’ll benefit from using these ingredients in your daily skincare routine.

Can I use glycolic acid in the morning and retinol at night?

Absolutely, you can in fact, use glycolic acid twice a day. As I have already mentioned however, an imbalance in pH levels can result in dry, tight, and irritated skin. Therefore, it’s important to leave enough time in between product applications to bypass this and reap the rewards of this powerful duo.

Retinol is also an ingredient that cannot be used in the day purely because any exposure to UV light will render it useless and it will completely lose its potency. You will also find that if you use glycolic acid in the shape of a toner beforehand your retinol will be able to deliver results rapidly and effectively. By ridding the surface of the skin from any build-up of dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt, and debris. If these impurities are left to build-up, you will find that any formulations applied to the skin will take longer to absorb through this physical barrier.

When should I use glycolic acid in routine?

You can use glycolic acid in any step of your routine, it very much depends on which product it is you decide to use. You’ll find that this potent AHA makes its way into a variety of formulations, from cleansers, toners, serums, face oils, and moisturisers. Depending on which product contains glycolic acid will determine when you apply it during your routine with the basic skincare meaning you start with the thinnest consistency and work your way up to the thickest. By doing this each product can absorb into the skin without having to tackle a physical barrier created by a thicker formula. 

Is it OK to use glycolic acid every day?

Yes, it is ok if your skin is happy for you to use it every day. Glycolic acid is one of the most used, but most potent member of the alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) family. These chemical exfoliants generally work on the outer surface of the skin and provide a plethora of skin results, from revived, brighter complexions to evening out the skin tone and combating first signs of ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles.

Those who have a normal to oily skin type will quite often benefit the most from using glycolic acid daily. If, however you have a skin type that is dry and prone to sensitivity it is best to avoid using such a powerful acid, instead opting for lactic acid which is much gentler or a member of the poly hydroxy acid (PHA) family.

There you have a little more information about using retinol after glycolic acid. If you have established with your doctor these ingredients are safe to use in your daily routine and you apply them as instructed, there’s nothing stopping you from using retinol after glycolic acid. Don’t forget that if you have any more skincare questions, come, and find us over on Instagram, you’ll find me in the direct messages.


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