Can You Use Retinol and Salicylic Acid Together?

Can You Use Retinol and Salicylic Acid Together?

Applying skincare ingredients can often feel very confusing, but trust me when I say, it all gets a lot easier once you get the hang of things. The idea of mixing salicylic acid and retinol together seems like a recipe for disaster but believe it or not teaming these two powerhouse ingredients can result in optimal result and an all-over improved complexion. Having said that, it isn’t a case of just slapping on the formulas onto the skin and hoping for the best, but instead building the tolerance of the skin to avoid any unwanted skin irritation.

If you are new to learning about what these skincare ingredients can do for the skin, here is a brief rundown of how they work on the skin, and the benefits you can expect to see when using them.

What is retinol?

  • Form of vitamin A and added to over-the-counter formulas, prescription, and professional facials and peels.
  • Needs to be introduced into your routine slowly to avoid irritation, redness, and increased sensitivity.
  • Used for a variety of skin concerns, from signs of ageing, acne, dull and luck lustre complexion.
  • Often mistaken to exfoliate the skin when it increases the speed skin cells are renewed.
  • When exposed to sunlight, retinol loses its potency and unable to deliver benefits to the skin.
  • If you wanted to know more about retinol and how it works on the skin, check out our dedicated blog post.

What is salicylic acid?

  • Most used acid from the beta hydroxy acid family (BHA) salicylic acid is available in a variety of skincare formulas.
  • Derived from willow bark and provides deep exfoliation for the skin.
  • Favoured ingredient by those with an oily skin type that is prone to breakouts and acne.
  • Unlike other acids, salicylic acid is oil-soluble and can penetrate deeply into the pores and clear them out of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, and build-up of impurities.
  • Learn more about introducing salicylic acid, check out this blog post.

Can you use salicylic acid and retinol at the same time?

Yes, you can, but if you use it in the correct way. By this I mean you can use both powerhouse ingredients during the same routine, all you need to do to avoid irritation is to leave 10 to 15 minutes in between applications. This will help the skin’s pH levels is to rebalance and allow the active ingredients to penetrate the lower layers.

With both salicylic acid and retinol working on the outer surface and lower layers can lead to the skin becoming irritated or flared-up with redness. Therefore, it is highly important to ensure you have checked with a dermatologist or doctor to determine if these ingredients are suitable for you and your skin type. Especially if you have a skin type that is dry and prone to sensitivity. If you are unsure, the easiest task you can do is perform a patch test for 24 hours. You can do this by applying a 10p size amount of each formula on the forearm and leave it for 24 hours. If there are no signs of irritation by the morning, you can take this as a sign you are able to apply the products all-over the face.

How do you combine retinol and salicylic acid?

As I have just described in the previous section, retinol and salicylic acid can be used together in a routine. This is the most effective way of combing the ingredients for those with a skin type that is oily and that have an already built tolerance to the potent formulations.

To successfully combine retinol and salicylic acid together when you have a dry or sensitive skin type, you can apply each ingredient during different parts of the day. For example, using a face wash enriched in salicylic acid will cleanse the skin, following this in the evening with a retinol serum leaves enough time for each ingredient to deliver their results and replenish the skin giving it an all-over improved complexion.

Is salicylic acid better than retinol?

Salicylic acid and retinol can be considered acne arch nemesis and are both adored by skincare experts and fanatics alike. When it comes to determining whether one ingredient is better than the other is a tricky task. This is because although both are fantastic at combating blemishes, flaky areas of skin, lack lustre complexions, and even signs of premature ageing. Each provide unique benefits for the skin and with various strengths and different formulas containing these clever acids, you’ll find it a simple task to discover products that fits perfectly into your routine. 

Should I use salicylic acid in the morning or night?

You can use salicylic acid anytime during the day, and if your skin has a tolerance for the acid, you’ll also find you can use it twice a day. One of the clever traits of salicylic acid is the fact it can stimulate the skin’s defence against free radicals and the damage they can cause to the skin. Packed with antioxidants this acid can ward off harmful irritants to the skin, such as pollution, central heating, and other environmental aggressors. You’ll often find people who are unable to use salicylic acid twice a day will instead opt to use a cleanser in the morning to prepare their skin for the day ahead. Others like to use salicylic acid enriched in a serum in the evening as a way of repairing and rejuvenating the skin after a day of exposure to free radical damage.

Whichever you decide to choose it is important that you remember to apply a daily SPF of 30 and above to ensure you are keeping your freshly exfoliated skin fully protected from UV exposure and the harmful sun’s rays.

Can I use retinol serum and retinol cream together?

Not really, as this can become too irritating for the skin, instead the best moisturiser or cream to use in conjunction with retinol serum, is something packed with hyaluronic acid and other hydrating and nourishing ingredients. This will keep the skin balanced, replenished, looked after, with a healthy, plumped finish to the complexion.

There you have a little more information about using retinol and salicylic acid together, don’t forget if you have any more questions you can find one of our skincare experts over on Instagram, so do come and say hello.

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