What Can You Not Mix with Glycolic Acid?

What Can You Not Mix with Glycolic Acid?

If like me, you are a big skincare fan, you'd want your daily routine to deliver the best results for your skin. No matter what your skin concern is , there is one ingredient that has gained a lot of popularity and that is glycolic acid. With its many benefits, it really doesn’t come as a surprise that we all go a little crazy for this AHA! By layering this with other potent and effective ingredients you are giving your skin the best treatment.

Having said that, there are some dos and don’ts when it comes to using certain ingredients so with that is mind I am going to share with you more information about what can you not mix with glycolic acid.

Before I share with you what you shouldn’t mix with glycolic acid, I’m going to quickly give you a rundown of the skincare benefits this acid provides:

Skincare benefits of Glycolic Acid

  • Can slough away the build-up of dead skin cells that overtime can cause the skin to appear dry, dull and lack lustre
  • Clears the pores and unclogs them of dirt, bacteria and debris that often lead to breakouts and spots
  • Helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles giving the skin an overall improvement
  • Can rid the surface of the skin of any uneven texture giving you a smoother finish to the skin
  • Removes any barriers on the surface of the skin allowing other products and ingredients to penetrate into the deep layers of the skin
  • Improves the appearance of pigmentation and dark spots
  • Known as being one of the more potent AHAs and can deliver the quickest level of results

Those are the main benefits of glycolic acid and what you can expect to see when using it in your everyday skincare routine. If you are wanting to find out more about glycolic acid, don’t forget you can check out our blog post about what is glycolic acid and what are its skincare benefits.

What should you not use glycolic acid with?


When it comes to figuring out what you shouldn't use with glycolic acid with, well, in all honestly it feels a little like a trick question. By this I mean you can in fact use any skin ingredient that works for you and your skin, but it’s just a case of how you apply and layer your products.

This is something that could take some time, but after a while will become an easy habit. Due to the fact that glycolic acid is so potent the ideal way of reaping the rewards of using your skincare products would be to use a toner enriched in glycolic acid once you have gently cleansed the skin. By using a toner you’ll slough away any remaining traces of makeup and other impurities which will result in the skin becoming fully cleansed and more absorbent of any products that follow.

If you have particularly sensitive skin, I’d advise speaking to a dermatologist first of all before using glycolic acid, as it may be a case of switching to lactic acid or any type of PHA instead to prevent any unwanted irritation.

Generally speaking, if you alternate and give your skin enough time to settle between using glycolic with other ingredients, such as retinol, salicylic, vitamin C etc you’ll be treating the skin without causing any irritation or damage. I’ll now share with you some more information about certain ingredients and the best way of using them with glycolic acid.

Can you mix niacinamide and glycolic acid?

You can but, what you may find is that because of niacinamide and glycolic acid provide very similarly benefits, such as reducing fine lines, combating acne, improving skin texture and pigmentation, by layering both these ingredients you won’t necessarily gain extra skin benefits. There is also the pH factor to consider as niacinamide has alkaline pH levels of & and above compared to glycolic which is closer to 3-4 and acid pH levels. With this imbalance the problem that will occur is firstly, some flushing and redness to the skin as well as each ingredient fighting against each other and restricting how effectively they are absorbed.

Can you use glycolic acid and vitamin C together?

The short answer is yes, the longer answer is, you can, but it’s complicated. The reason for this is to do with pH levels again, they both have low levels but making the pH levels of your skin too low can result in all manner of problems and can even cause your skin to burn. As already mentioned, to gain the full effect of these ingredients in your routine its best to alternate using them.

For me personally, I love the glow vitamin C gives to the complexion so would use it in the morning, teamed with a high sun factor for vital skin protection.

Once I’d get to the evening after performing a double cleansed I would swipe a cotton disc soaked in glycolic acid toner across my skin to rid it of any remaining traces of bacteria, dirt and impurities. As you can see by doing this you would have used both potent ingredients, but by using them in the mornings and evenings you are giving your skin enough time in between applications to avoid any unwanted irritations or reactions.

What can you layer with glycolic acid?

You can layer any ingredient with glycolic acid as long as it is done correctly, for more potent products it would be best to follow the method I mentioned above. As for layering products one after the other without any time to settle between applications, this really depends on your skin type, you could use AHAs and BHAs together with no side effects, instead you are giving your skin a deep clear out. I would suggest this would only work for those with an oily skin type and not those who suffer from any signs of dryness or sensitivity.

One ingredient that can be layered with glycolic acid with no worry of irritation is hyaluronic acid as this humectant can instantly hydrate the skin and aid replenishment, this is an ideal teammate for glycolic acid as it avoids any chances of the skin feeling tight, dry or irritated.

Is it ok to use glycolic acid every day?

Yes, this again relies on your skin type and how it is feeling. There are various products containing glycolic acid, from face cleansers to overnight serums which is extra helpful for you as this gives you the option to tailor the amount of glycolic acid you use a day. What I mean by this is if you are wanting a small amount of the AHA on your skin its best to opt for a face cleanser or wash as these are rinsed off the skin and spend the least amount of time of the skin.

For a product that packs more of a punch you can apply an overnight serum to work deep into the skin for a longer time whilst you sleep. Whichever you decide to use as long as your skin remains comfortable and non-irritated then continue using your routine as it is and sit back and enjoy the glowing clarity to your skin.

Now that you have a better understanding of what you can and can’t mix with glycolic acid you will have the benefit of seeing your skincare routine step up a notch and really deliver fabulous results. Just a word to the wise, if using any of these ingredients mentioned are new to you then do always double check with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure your skin will be happy with you using it.

Don't forget to come and give us a follow on Instagram for more skincare tips, you'll always find one of our skincare experts in the direct messages. 

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