It’s very clear that acids, especially the ones belonging in the AHA and BHA families are a skincare favourite amongst many of us. With their abilities to work at sloughing away dead skin cells, unclogging pores, reviving a tired looking complexion, or combating discolouration, it’s no wonder we all have a product or two containing these powerhouses in our skincare collection.
There is also another ingredient that has a good reputation at benefiting the skin, vitamin C. With its long-standing history in the beauty industry, it has a shaky start after being christened an unstable ingredient and would often cause some irritation on the skin when layered with other actives. With modern technology and new research this is no longer the case meaning now more than ever, everyone is benefiting from this is glow restoring active.
The question we are left with, including others, is are you able to use vitamin C after AHA? We’ll explore this in a little more detail, but before we get stuck in, I’ll give you a brief recap of the benefits of these ingredients and how they work on the skin.
What is vitamin C?
- Known for its ability to combat areas of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, age spots, and sun damage.
- Packed with antioxidants helping to protect the skin against free radical exposure, such as pollution, UV rays, central heating, and other environmental aggressors.
- Helps to reduce areas of dryness, blotchy, and patchy skin.
- Boosts collagen production and targets signs of ageing, such as fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity.
- There is more to find out about vitamin C over on our dedicated blog post so be sure to check that out.
What are AHAs?
- AHAs, also known as alpha hydroxy acids, are a collection of chemical exfoliants.
- The most common and most known AHAs, are glycolic acid, lactic acid, and citric acid.
- There’s a variety of acids with different molecular size that work in a similar way on the skin whilst delivering their own unique benefits.
- The exfoliation of these acids helps to unglue the bounds keeping the dead skin cells attached to the surface making the complexion look dull and lack lustre.
- They help target areas of concern, from hyperpigmentation, signs of ageing, and problematic skin, such as acne and blemishes.
- There is a fully dedicated blog post about AHAs and how they work on the skin, so take a look to find out more.
Should I use AHA or vitamin C first?
For many skincare experts, applying an AHA before your vitamin C product will deliver optimal results. This is because the acid will slough away the build-up of dead skin cells that can often create a barrier on the skin surface. Once this is removed, you’ll find your vitamin C product will absorb rapidly and effectively.
The way this works is connected to pH levels and how they can alter the skin’s pH, which is naturally more acidic. Once you have applied an acid that is typically between 3.0 and 4.0 you are creating the optimal environment to apply your vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid. It’s important to remain mindful that the skin can become irritated and stripped of the essential oil it needs to remain healthy. This is why it’s a good idea to check with a dermatologist or medical professional to ensure you are using the best ingredients and will experience optimal skin results.
Can I use vitamin C after exfoliating?
Yes, you certainly can! What you may find is when using a high percentage of vitamin C applying it after exfoliating will boost the active ingredient and boost the overall look and feel of the complexion. The skin will feel firmer and areas of concern such as hyperpigmentation, and dark spots are visibly reduced.
If you are sat there wondering whether vitamin C exfoliates the skin, the answer is no. However, it does help increase the skin cell turnover, promoting new, fresh skin cells to make their way to the surface. This explains how vitamin C has gained a reputation for providing such a luminous, healthy, glowing finish to the skin.
Those of you with sensitive skin may find exfoliating with a chemical or physical exfoliants to be too harsh and experience a flare-up in irritation, redness, and increased dryness. This can be avoided if you opt to use lactic acid for exfoliation as this is one of the milder AHAs. You should then wait for at least 30 minutes before applying your vitamin C serum. Finally finish off with a moisturiser or serum packed with hyaluronic acid to help lock hydration into the skin and decreasing the risk of unwanted dryness and irritation. For extra precautionary actions, you can also perform a patch test for 24 hours before applying any product to your skin. This will help you determine whether your skin will be happy with any actives applied to the skin, especially if you’ve not used any of these ingredients before.
Can I use vitamin C after BHA?
Not really, this is due to how different BHAs perform on the skin compared to AHAs. You’ll find BHAs, the most used being, salicylic acid, works deeper into the skin. It can do this because of the smaller molecular size compared to an AHA. This ensures salicylic acid and other BHAs are highly effective ingredient to use if you have an oily and blemish-prone skin type as they work down into the pores and unclog them of excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, debris, and other impurities.
As effective as it is, BHAs are notoriously potent and if you layer vitamin C over the skin you will experience a lot of irritation, redness, increases photosensitivity, and severe dryness. To gain the best results without any side effects, I would suggest alternating when you apply each active. Start your morning routine with vitamin C as its antioxidant properties will protect the skin from daily oxidised stress. Follow this in the evening with BHA, such as salicylic acid, to work deeply into the lower layers and work undisturbed whilst you catch some beauty sleep.
Don’t forget if you have any worries with teaming certain ingredients together consult with your GP or a dermatologist. Also don’t hesitate to get in touch with us over on Instagram, one of team is always available in the direct messages to answer any skincare questions.