Can You Use Salicylic Acid Before Vitamin C?

Can You Use Salicylic Acid Before Vitamin C?

Having a skincare routine is easy, knowing how to use it is a completely different matter. Most of the time if you are lacking the skin results you were anticipating, it could be a case of layering conflicting ingredients. With this in mind, is it possible for salicylic acid and vitamin C are such ingredients? Or are these actives the missing power duo from your skincare routine? If you want answers, then stick around as today we will be walking you through the benefits of salicylic acid and vitamin C, and how they should be applied during your daily routine.

What are the skin benefits of salicylic acid?

One of the most used beta hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is favoured by many with an oily skin type that’s prone to acne. Derived from willow bark, this acid differs from its water-soluble cousins, called alpha hydroxy acids, as salicylic acid is oil-soluble meaning it can penetrate deeper into the lower layers of the skin. Once it has reached its lower layers it can help to unclog pores of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, debris, and impurities. This results in a clearer complexion with improved clarity. 

It’s not just the lower layers that are benefited from salicylic acid, you’ll also find the outer surface of the skin can reap the rewards. When applied to the skin, salicylic acid can slough away the build-up of dead skin cells. It does this by dissolving the bonds that keep the dead cells attached to the surface, overtime these can make the complexion look dull, lack lustre and prone to having a flare-up in whiteheads, blackheads, and other blemishes.

If you wanted to know more about salicylic acid and how it improves the skin, check out the dedicated blog post we have over on The Beauty Insiders.

What are the skin benefits of vitamin C?

Vitamin C is known as being one of the most potent antioxidants, meaning it is highly effective at combating free radicals preventing them from causing further skin damage. Examples of free radicals are pollution, central heating, UV rays, and harsh climates, all of which attack the proteins, fats, and cell membranes once they have encountered the skin, this leads to signs of premature ageing, such as fine lines, and wrinkles as well as hyperpigmentation, flaky patches of skin, and loss of elasticity.

Many often prefer to apply vitamin C during their morning routine, due to luminous glow the ingredient delivers to the complexion. You will also find vitamin c can target areas of hyperpigmentation, plump the skin, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The thing about vitamin C, is that there is a lot of outdated research circulating from the 1950s describing vitamin C to be an unstable skin ingredient. With improved modern technology, this is no longer the case, with all products now containing stable forms of vitamin C. 

There is more to learn about vitamin C over of The Beauty Insider so check out our blog post.

Can you use salicylic acid and then vitamin C?

Yes, you certainly can, in fact, it is thought that applying salicylic acid before vitamin C ensure it is able to penetrate rapidly and deliver quicker results.

The reason this is an effective way of using both powerhouses is connected to pH levels. The skin for example, naturally has a pH level of about 4.7 making it slightly acidic. Both salicylic acid and vitamin C are also more acidic, and you’ll find that vitamin C absorbs into the skin rapidly. Therefore, using salicylic acid beforehand will increase the skin’s acidity making it easier for vitamin C to make its way into the skin rapidly.

Although this is thought to be an effective way of teaming both powerhouse ingredients together, you must be mindful of your skin type and how it reacts to certain actives. Even those with a problem-free, normal skin may experience skin sensitivity and irritation so always check with a doctor or dermatologist before introducing anything new to your skin.

It is also important to bear in mind the skin application rule. This is when you need to apply your products the correct way to ensure your skin gets optimal results. If you are unsure about what I mean, the basic skin rule is to apple your products starting with the thinnest consistency and working up to the thickest. This avoids a barrier forming on the surface preventing other active ingredients penetrating the skin.

Can I use salicylic acid at night and vitamin C in the morning?

Yes, absolutely, this is thought to be the most effective way to reap the rewards without any unwanted side effects. This is because enough time has passed between applications ensuring the pH level of the skin has rebalanced.

You will also find that due to vitamin C being packed with so many antioxidants, it’s ideal to apply in the morning, ensuring the skin is protected and remaining in its healthiest state. With salicylic acid having a smaller molecular size, it is one acid that can reach the deepest area of the skin. As effective as this is for keeping the skin clean, it does also increase the risk of irritation and photosensitivity. Therefore, many prefer to apply the potent BHA during their evening routine without the exposure to UV light, pollution, or harsh climates.

A word of warning, neither of these ingredients will be able to provide the result for the skin if you skip a daily application of sunscreen. With a concoction of chemical exfoliants and potent powerhouse ingredients, the skin surface has an increased risk of experiencing further damage. Using sun protection of 50 every day, even on days it looks overcast will keep the skin protected, the lipid barrier healthy, and maintain the skin’s best state.

If you have any further questions, come, and find us on Instagram for more, there’s always a skincare expert waiting to help!


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