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Mixing and Matching Skincare Products: What You Should Know

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Mixing and Matching Skincare Products: What You Should Know

With brands like The Ordinary boasting increasingly simple formulas and the flood of skincare products on the market, it can get difficult to sort through all the options to find the right cocktail for your skin. As intimidating as it may seem, mixing skincare products can be a good way to ensure you're getting the maximum benefit from the products you use!

Here's a basic guide to the Dos & Don’t's when it comes to mixing skincare products!

DO: Vitamin C + Vitamin E

You probably see Vitamin C advertised everywhere in skincare products. Known for its ability to fade dark spots as well as even and brighten skin tone, it's often a staple in even the most basic skincare routines. It can be paired well with Vitamin E as both are antioxidants. Vitamin C stimulates collagen, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, as well as helps protect the skin from environmental pollutants (eg. sun damage). It can help provide enhanced UV protection. Vitamin E aids by helping block free radicals from attacking the skin, thus reducing visible signs of aging.

DO: Vitamin C + Sunscreen

Honestly sunscreen should be a staple in every skincare routine. Sunscreen, however, pairs particularly well with Vitamin C's ability to protect from environmental pollutants. For each product to reach its maximum potential, most dermatologists recommend applying a Vitamin C serum in the mornings prior to sunscreen.

DON'T: Vitamin C + Retinol

Retinol is another big name in skincare. It boasts the ability to unclog pores, exfoliate, and boost collagen to help reduce fine lines and speed up cell turnover, which can assist in fighting discoloration as well as help smooth the skin. However, retinols work best at a different pH than Vitamin C products so the two should typically not be combined. Additionally, when combined, they can make your skin more sensitive to sun damage: a recipe for disaster! For each product to reach its maximum potential, most dermatologists recommend Vitamin C + SPF in the mornings and retinol products at night.

DO: Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid

Retinol boasts effective and impressive results, sometimes in as little as four weeks! As a peeling agent, while it may help you achieve a glow, you may notice your skin is a little dry. Combining retinol with a hydrating agent like hyaluronic acid (this magic ingredient can hold up to 1000x its weight in water and is great for helping the skin retain moisture!) allows the product to penetrate the skin and stay effective without having a drying effect.

DON'T: Retinol + AHAs/BHAs

Alpha & Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs & BHAs respectively) are exfoliating agents that pair well together, but not necessarily with other products, especially retinols. As active ingredients, the two can already dry out your skin when used separately thus can be that much more damaging when used together -- causing redness, excessive dryness, and irritation. Most dermatologists recommend using these products either on different days of the week or at different times of the day with acids in the morning and retinols at night.

DON'T: Retinol + Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl Peroxide can be a powerful acne treatment on it's own but it's not great when paired with retinol. Ingredients in Benzoyl Peroxide can have an oxidizing effect on the retinoids thus making them less effective.

DON'T: Benzoyl Peroxide + Vitamin C

Similarly, Benzoyl Peroxide can also have an oxidizing effect on Vitamin C and thus should not typically be combined with each other.

DON'T: AHAs/BHAs + Vitamin C

Vitamin C is effectively an acid so layering it with AHAs & BHAs can have a destabilizing effect thus rendering the products effectively useless before they have the chance to work their magic. Again, if you absolutely must use both products in your skincare regimen, most experts recommend using them on different days or at different times of day for maximum effectiveness.

DON'T: Oil + Water Based Products

It's basic science: oil and water simply don't mix. In fact, oil actually repels water. Using oil based products can leave a thin film on the skin which prevents water based formulas from penetrating and thus absorbing into the skin.

DO: Use Sunscreen!

With all the products and formulas out there, there's typically no one size fits all product when it comes to skincare. The one exception to this rule might be sunscreen. Yes, even for those of us with darker skin tones: sunscreen matters! Dermatologists agree this is the one product we should all be using every day. It doesn't matter how much you're spending on retinols, vitamin C and any combination of acids: if you're not getting sun protection, you're wasting your money.

Skincare doesn't have to be intimidating! The beauty of the abundance of products is that there truly is a product for every skin type. If you're ever unsure of what products to buy, consulting a dermatologist is a great solution.


Radhika Gupta

Team at aavrani

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