Skincare Active Ingredients

Skincare Ingredients You Should and Shouldn’t Mix

There are many skin care ingredients you can mix and not mix, but mixing the wrong ones will not only lead to skin irritation but destroy months of hard work. Before going into the skincare ingredients we should first understand what an active ingredient is and how it can make a difference on your face.

An active ingredient is an ingredient that helps to improve the tone and texture of the skin, for example, hyperpigmentation, signs of aging, skin brightening, etc.

Since these actives are really strong and powerful they can be irritating and also difficult to use for people having sensitive skin or rosacea

So actives have to be used carefully and should be mixed with the right ingredients.

Skincare ingredients you can mix:

For pigmentation

1. Retinol + Niacinamide (Vitamin B):

This is the most common combination that can be used for every skin type even for sensitive skin.

This combination can help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, increase collagen production, improve skin texture, and reduce dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

How to start this combination?

  • It’s better to start off with niacinamide before using other topicals as this has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Niacinamide can be combined with other topicals as long as the pH is over 5.0.
  • Add a good retinol formulation after 4 weeks, start it every second night, and increase It once you’re able to tolerate it.

2. Glycolic acid + Vitamin C or Resveratrol:

Glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant. It can remove the top layers of the skin improving the skin texture. It can also improve fine lines and wrinkles. It is mainly used to treat skin aging, melasma, sunspots, post-inflammatory pigmentation, blackheads, and acne. It also helps with brightening.

Vitamin C on the other hand is an antioxidant that helps to fight off free radicals and it can help in fighting skin aging, melasma, post-inflammatory pigmentation, and stretch marks.

Note: Make sure to avoid this combination if you have sensitive skin.

How to start this combination?

Make sure to use Vitamin C in the morning and glycolic acid at night. Using them together can lead to irritation and also make the combination ineffective.

3. Azelaic acid + Vitamin C:

This is a really good combination for acne, melasma, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is perfect to use for sensitive skin.

How to start this combination?

Ascorbic acid in the morning and Azelaic acid in the night.

4. Arbutin + Vitamin C:

This is another combination of melasma and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

How to start this combination?

Arbutin can be used twice daily, in the morning and night. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid should be used only in the morning.

5. N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) & Niacinamide:

N-Acetyl Glucosamine is an amino sugar and helps in reducing melanin production however, it can be unstable when used alone.

A study showed that 4% niacinamide combined with 2% NAG was more effective at reducing pigmentation than a vehicle control formulation.

For Antioxidant combinations:

1. Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic acid:

Vitamin E and ferulic acid act as an antioxidant. They help in skin aging.

2. Green tea + Caffeine:

Green tea contains antioxidants and free radical scavengers, protecting your DNA and collagen. Caffeine also has antioxidant properties and can protect the skin from UV damage and slow down photoaging.

3. Centella Asiatica + Vitamin C:

Centella Asiatica is a medicinal herb that is said to have antioxidant properties.

Note: These combinations can help fight off free radicals. The above 3 combinations are best paired with SPF 50 ++++.

For Skin Barrier:

1. Ceramide + Cholesterol + Fatty acids:

These ingredients are naturally present in our skin and are essential for our skin barrier.

2. Niacinamide + Hyaluronic acid:

Niacinamide can improve the skin barrier and control sebum production, combining it with hyaluronic acid can hydrate your face and seal in the moisture.

Note: These two combinations can repair the skin barrier and replenish it.

For Acne-prone:

1. AHA + Retinol:

AHAs and retinol can help with acne, exfoliate, and help with the signs of aging.

2. Niacinamide + Salicylic acid:

Both of these ingredients can help with acne as they are very gentle and anti-inflammatory.

Note: These two combinations are best for acne-prone skin.

For Aging:

1. Hyaluronic acid+ ceramides + peptides + Retinol:

Hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and peptides are the building blocks of skin and they occur naturally in our body. These compounds decrease as we age due to smoking and sun damage so it is essential to replenish them in our skin.

Retinol is also another anti-aging active that can be combined with these compounds.

Skincare ingredients you can’t mix (use with caution)

These skincare ingredients are the ones that should be used with caution. They can be combined with each other but you should make sure to use them in the right concentrations and formulations.

1.Vitamin C(Ascorbic acid) + AHAS/BHAS:

Vitamin C is a really powerful ingredient and combining it with AHAS/BHAS can make it more irritating.

2. Retinol (Vitamin A) + AHA’S/BHA’S:

Retinol is an over-the-counter product that helps to fight the signs of aging. It is also a powerful ingredient and should be used with caution for sensitive skin.

Mixing retinol and AHA/BHAs can lead to skin irritation and is to be used with caution.

3. Retinol + Vitamin C:

Retinol and Vitamin C are really strong ingredients and can lead to irritation if you have skin sensitivity.

4. AHA’S/BHA’S +Vitamin C + Retinol:

Mixing any of these ingredients together should be avoided as they are really powerful.

5. Oil-based + Water-based:

It’s better not to mix oil-based and water-based products together. It’s better to use it separately.

6. Retinol/retinoids + Benzoyl peroxide:

Benzoyl peroxide is a really powerful ingredient and combining it with retinol will not only irritate your skin but also dry out your face.

How to combine these skincare ingredients properly?

1. Mixing AHA/BHA/PHA with Retinol and Vitamin C:

Since your using AHA/BHA/PHA 1-2 times a week, you can modify your skincare actives such as Vitamin C and Retinol.

  • Alternate nights: on 1st night you can use your AHA/BHA/PHA with retinol. On the 2nd night, you can use your AHA/BHA/PHA with Vitamin C.
  • if you want to combine Vitamin C and AHA/BHA/PHA, use vitamin C in the morning and the AHA/BHA/PHAs at night.

2. Mixing Retinol and Vitamin C:

You can use Vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night. You can also use Vitamin C and retinol together at night but do be cautious. Always look at the concentrations and consult a dermatologist.

3. Mixing retinol/retinoids and benzoyl peroxide:

when using these ingredients, use retinol at night and benzoyl in the morning.

What to do if your skin irritates?

You should stop using everything on your skin, including your sunscreen for 3-7 days. Apply 1% Hydrocortisone Ointment twice a day for 4 days only. Restart actives with a test patch, and then increase the product.

This is for the best and worst skincare combinations. The idea is to keep your skincare routine really simple and just use one product at a time. You don’t have to oversimplify the combinations. Using one ingredient at a time is more than enough and then you can introduce another one after a while.

Remember to stop using the product if your skin irritates.

This is it for all the skincare combinations you can and cannot mix, feel free to leave a comment about any other combinations you might have heard of.