Can You Use Vitamin C Before Retinol?

Can You Use Vitamin C Before Retinol?

There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding how these two powerhouse ingredients can be used, and whether you should in the first place. This often a result of outdated studies about both retinol and vitamin C separately as well as being teamed together. The thing is, vitamin C and retinol work perfectly fine together, leaving you with a healthy, glowing complexion. Word of warning, ensure you are using these potent skin heroes the correct way to counteract signs of ageing, uneven skin tone, and lack lustre complexion (to name a few) and avoid any unwanted skin irritations and flare-ups.

With this in mind, the question involving today’s blog post is can you use vitamin C before retinol? If you are wanting to know more about using vitamin C and retinol together, check out our dedicated blog post, can you use vitamin C with retinol?

Can I use retinol after vitamin C?

Yes, you can. Using retinol after vitamin C is perfectly safe if applied correctly, by this I mean ensuring you have left enough time in between applications to allow the pH levels in the skin to rebalance ready for retinol. It is important to take into consideration the pH levels of the skin when using skincare products as layering the wrong type will cause an imbalance, resulting in irritation and allergic reactions. The skin naturally needs a low pH level to remain in its healthiest state, usually around 0 to 3.5. This results in the skin absorbing vitamin C effectively but is considered too low for retinol and so it’s often advised to avoid layering these powerhouse ingredients directly on top of each other. By doing this you are preventing vitamin C and retinol pH levels from rendering each other useless and unable to deliver the results to your complexion.

Can you put vitamin C serum and retinol on at the same time?

No, it’s best to not apply vitamin C and retinol at the same time, as I have already mentioned the imbalance caused by the different pH levels will prevent these ingredients from working. This doesn’t however mean you can’t use them in the same routine, here are some of the main benefits you can expect to see when using this anti-ageing, skin reviving, power duo together.

  • More even skin tone with signs of dark spots, hyperpigmentation, and post acne scarring.
  • Giving an all-over brighter complexion
  • Reducing any inflammations to the skin
  • Smoothing out the skin texture giving a more even finish to the skin
  • Combating acne and other breakouts
  • Providing firming and tightening results to the skin
  • Reducing the appearance of premature ageing, such as fine lines and wrinkles

It’s no wonder so many of you use these ingredients in your daily routine. Both are formulated to address signs of ageing, be it natural or a result of damage caused by exposure to free radicals. Retinol works in the lower layers of the skin, boosting collagen production to support the skin making it firm and supple. Vitamin C is packed with antioxidants helping to strengthen the skin barrier and keeping harmful free radicals at bay.

Should I apply anything after retinol?

Yes absolutely! It is considered by many skincare experts that ideally, you should follow your retinol products with another that is packed with hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid. This will help combat the common drying side effects that occur when you are using retinol in your routine, especially if it is a newly introduced ingredient in your regime. 

Retinol needs to be applied in the evening as exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays results in retinol losing its potency, making it, well, pointless. By morning your retinol product has been working hard whilst you sleep without having to encounter any problems during the day. Don’t forget to follow your morning skincare routine with an SPF of 30 and above to ensure the face is protected from UV and other environmental aggressors skin damage.

Can I use vitamin C at night?

Yes, you can, but it’s really down to you and your routine. For me personally, I adore the post application glow you have once you have applied vitamin C serum and find it a waste for your evening skincare. Because of the fact it’s packed with antioxidants that ward off damage caused by free radicals applying vitamin C before your sun protection will help strengthen the skin barrier and enable it to function to the best of its ability throughout the day.

If you are wanting to apply vitamin C in the evening you can indeed, many believe that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C are able to set to work reversing the signs of damage caused throughout the day.

Why can’t you use vitamin C and retinol together?

It’s best to avoid using vitamin C and retinol together, by this is mean mixing their product formulations which will only result in each ingredient competing and rendered useless. As I have already mentioned, you can still use both ingredients in your routine, there are just some skin rules you should follow to ensure you’re getting the most out each powerhouse.

  1. Remember to start slowly

It is important to introduce new skincare ingredients slowly into your routine, especially if they are as potent as the likes of retinol. By building your skin’s tolerance and keeping an eye on how the skin reacts you will avoid irritation and instead establish an effective and beneficial routine. Over time your complexion will reap the rewards without any damage or disruption to the skin surface.

  1. Apply a daily SPF

This is potentially one of the most important steps in your routine you should never skip. Even on the days that are gloomy and overcast as UVA rays are constantly present and this is the ray that caused skin ageing and can penetrate through glass and water. Applying a daily SPF will protect the skin surface and fight off any free radical damage. 

  1. Team with hydration

With both vitamin C and retinol being known as causing some dryness to the complexion, especially when both used together. By adding a hydrating ingredient such as hyaluronic acid you are able keep the skin surface hydrated and supple.

Now hopefully you have a better understanding of using vitamin C before retinol and the results you can expect to see when teaming them together. Don’t forget to come and give Instagram a follow and if you have any questions you can find me in the direct messages.


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