Here Are The Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix

It can be beneficial to combine some serums that include active ingredients as they can work hand in hand to rejuvenate your complexion. However, this is not always the case; combining some active ingredients can have some adverse effects. This can either diminish the effectiveness of the treatments or even cause harm to your skin such as redness and inflammation. These are the skincare products you should never mix;


Retinol has excellent anti-aging and cell regenerating properties, along with mild exfoliating properties. Combining this with stronger exfoliants such as AHAs/BHAs will lead to an increased risk of irritation. In addition to this effect, acids typically function at a low pH and combining this with a retinol solution may increase the pH of the acid serum, this will decrease it’s effectiveness.


Vitamin C increases skin sensitivity as it is an exfoliating agent with a low pH which helps to slough off dead outermost skin cells. What this means is a brighter complexion underneath, but at the cost of temporary skin sensitivity. While retinol itself isn’t an exfoliant it does promote skin cells turnover which can cause some mild peeling. It’s not hard to see then that pairing retinol with vitamin c is a recipe for disaster. Not only will using both make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it can also lead to irritation and inflammation, yikes.

We recommend using vitamin c serums during the day and retinol at night; or alternate use of the products by day.


Vitamin C is already an excellent exfoliating agent working to promote cell turnover and brighten your complexion. Pairing this with other exfoliants can be a little excessive, and can lead to irritation, skin peeling and inflammation. Best to keep these two ingredients away from each other.


These acids almost do the same thing, glycolic acid is an AHA while salicylic acid is a BHA. These acids work to regulate sebum production, clear pores and congestion, minimise breakouts and improve collagen synthesis. These acids have a low pH, combining them can double the potency which will without a doubt cause skin peeling and chemical burns. Best to keep them away from each other.


The rule is to always apply water-based serums first. Oil-based serums can create a fine film over the face if used first which can prevent absorption of water-based serums. It’s a well known fact that water and oil repel, so make sure you start with water-based.


the ordinary skin care serums
Photo by Okan Younesi on Unsplash

There are many products you shouldn’t mix, but there are also many that work in harmony to deliver great results. Below are just a couple:


Hyaluronic acid is a miracle hydrator than can hold 1000x it’s weight in water. It’s also a humectant meaning it draws water from surrounding areas to provide hydration where it’s needed. These excellent hydration properties can also slow down and reverse aging.

Using hyaluronic acid with retinol can help combat the dryness associated with retinol use, and it can also help soothe the skin.

Using hyaluronic acid with AHAs/BHAs can help to reduce dryness and minimise irritation. It’s imperative that you moisturise when using exfoliating acids as to not damage the skin.


Exfoliating acids can increase sensitivity to the sunlight. It’s recommended that you don’t come into contact with direct sunlight when using these acids, as it can damage the skin or diminish the effectiveness of the treatments. If however you have to come into contact with sunlight, best to apply an even coverage of SPF at the end of your skin care regime.


It’s actually a common misconception that vitamin c and niacinamide cannot be used together. Niacinamide is an excellent blemish reducing agent which helps to regulate sebum production. Pair this with an exfoliant like vitamin c and you have a winning combination; reduced pore size; brighter, tighter skin and reduced appearance of fine lines.

To sum it up

Do NOT mix:

  • Retinol + AHAs/BHAs
  • Retinol + Vitamin C
  • Vitamin C + AHAs/BHAs
  • Glycolic Acid + Salicylic Acid

DO mix:

  • Hyaluronic Acid + Retinol
  • Hyaluronic Acid + AHAs/BHAs
  • Hyaluronic Acid + Vitamin C
  • SPF + AHAs/BHAs/Vitamin C
  • Vitamin C + Niacinamide

Consider printing out this list and putting it on your skincare shelf for easy access; your skin will thank you for it.

3 responses to “Here Are The Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix”

  1. […] Apply in the morning and evening. Product should be used on your whole face after cleansing. As this is a serum, it should always be applied prior to any moisturising creams or oil-based products. There are a few ingredients that you shouldn’t mix with niacinamide, read more about the skincare ingredients you should never mix here. […]

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