What skincare ingredients should you never use together? It’s a question you’ve likely overlooked unknowingly. Have you ever layered skincare products on thinking, “HELL YES: I’m multitasking like a pro!! Take that, skin problems!” You’re not alone. I do it all the time. However, back in the day before I knew better in my early twenties, I was actually adding to my skin’s problems unknowingly. Why? My skincare was waging a war on my face because of clashing ingredients, and I didn’t even KNOW IT.
So, what’s “IT”? There are a few key ingredients you never want to use together. It’s like a toxic relationship: seems like a good idea in the beginning, and later on? Dumpster fire. If your skin isn’t really seeing results with your products, or other issues are popping up (*cough* redness/flakiness/etc), it’s likely because there could be a clash somewhere. Don’t get down on yourself though, because guess what? It’s not even your fault! No one tells you these things unless you know to ask your derm/esthetician outright about it. I gotchu tho. Welcome to your playbook: never use these skincare ingredients together!
What Skincare Ingredients Should You Never Use Together?
Niacinamide & Vitamin C
Two very popular ingredients on the acne-prone marketing front: but they’re not besties. In fact, they cancel each other out completely. Crazy, right? Niacinamide literally body snatches the good properties of vitamin C and can turn it into a redness causing monster inside your pores. It’s not the greatest choice to pair together at the same time, especially if you’re on the more sensitive side, according to my dermatologist. Instead, opt for vitamin C during the day, and niacinamide at night. Below are the brands and products I trust: they do exactly what they say they’re going to do.
Retinol + Vitamin C
If you want a one-way ticket to sunburn/scaly town, this is the way to go. However, I know that’s not why you’re here reading this tho. Pairing these two skincare ingredients together increases sun sensitivity and breaks your skin down due to UV damage. I fucked this up in my early twenties too and paid the price. It was a fucking pain in my dermatologist’s ass to clear up as I entered my late twenties. Nowadays, I use both together, but flip it by the time of day. Like before, vitamin C during the day, and retinol at night!
AHA’s/BHA’s + Retinol + Vitamin C
AHA’s (aka acids) don’t belong with either of these two. Like, EVER. Save your glycolic, lactic, salicylic acids for another time. Vitamin C mixed with these will again cancel it out, and when paired with retinol, you’ll get the dreaded scaly dry skin bit. Legit damage your moisture barrier bad.
Salicylic Acid + Glycolic Acid
Consider this giving your face a rug burn. That shit ain’t cute! Having both acids pulling double duty just ends up causing more breakouts and irritation. I like to use one or the other in the evening if I’m not doing a peel or other acid treatment. It’s another one that’s great to alternate AM/PM depending on skin sensitivity, just not back to back.
Oil + Water Based Products
Have you ever talked shit about a makeup primer or foundation because it pilled or ran down your face? This is likely the culprit. It’s even more of a waste for skincare products. The oil won’t let the water-based product seep into your skin, completely wasting its benefits if it’s backwards like this. You’re going to be floored how well they work separately when you don’t mix them!
Now that you know what skincare ingredients you should never use together, it’s time to put your new knowledge to good use! Mastering your skin type is the most important step. Not sure where to start? Learn the foundations for a great skincare routine for dry skin, oily skin, and combination skin right here on the blog. As always, consult your own doctor before making any changes to your routine, as everyone’s skin is different.