Skincare can be complicated, especially for those of us who didn’t exactly ace our chemistry classes back in school. ;-) But many of us are forced to navigate the complex world of skincare on our own, because the alternatives (such as buying the high-end products that an expensive esthetician or dermatologist would recommend) are often prohibitively expensive.
So instead, many of us build our own skincare regimens by picking and choosing individual products from the more affordable drugstore options. This approach to skincare may be better for your budget, but it doesn’t come without its risks.
In today’s post, we’ll be talking about one of the biggest risks of customizing your own skincare regimen: combining ingredients you shouldn’t use together. This information will help you tweak and optimize your regimen to give you the benefits you want, without the unfortunate side effects you don’t want!
Skincare Products And Ingredients You Shouldn’t Use Together
1. Products With The Same Active Ingredient
If you’re using two or more skincare products with the same active ingredients, you might assume you’re getting twice the benefits. But in reality, the most likely outcome of doubling up on actives is skin irritation.
Check your product labels to make sure you’re not using two with benzoyl peroxide, or two with AHAs (even if they are different types, such as glycolic acid and mandelic acid). This simple step will keep your skin much happier!
2. Vitamin C & AHAs
Vitamin C and AHAs are both useful active ingredients in skincare products, but they aren’t ones you should use together. Not only can the combination irritate your skin, but they can also cancel out each other’s beneficial effects.
Vitamin C products have an antioxidant effect, making it great for daytime wear, while AHAs chemically exfoliate the skin, making them better for nighttime use. If you have both types of products in your current routine, using them separately at the correct time of day will make all the difference!
3. Retinoids & These 4 Ingredients
Retinoids, both in the form of prescription products and over-the-counter retinol products, help to boost cell turnover and improve the appearance of wrinkles, acne, hyperpigmentation, and other skin conditions. The catch is that retinoids can be drying and irritating, especially if used in conjunction with other ingredients that can have those side effects.
Avoid using retinoids in conjunction with any products with these active ingredients:
Both retinoids and AHAs have an exfoliating effect that can lead to irritation, so using them together is just a bad idea all around! But if you have both types of products, you don’t have to give one up—even using them on alternate days will help you avoid negative side effects.
▶︎ Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is often found in acne-fighting skincare products, and this active can actually neutralize the effects of the retinoid molecule. If you’re using both types of products, use your benzoyl peroxide product in the morning and your retinoid at night.
▶︎ Vitamin C
Vitamin C likes an acidic environment, while retinoids like a more alkaline pH. If you use them at the same time, neither one will be able to work as effectively as they could.
But just as with vitamin C and AHAs, you can avoid this problem by using them at the right time of day. Use your vitamin C product in the morning to protect your skin, and stick to using retinoids at night.
▶︎ Salicylic Acid
For those of us blessed with both mature skin and the occasional outbreak, it may seem like a smart solution to use both a retinoid and a product with acne-fighting salicylic acid. The problem is that both ingredients can be drying, so they’re sure to do a number on your skin if you use them together.
Either choose one or the other, or use your salicylic acid in the morning and your retinoid at night.
Can I Use A Product That Contains Two “Competing” Ingredients?
The point of this post is to help you avoid layering different skincare products in a way that can produce unintended and unpleasant side effects. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should avoid using products that have two or more different active ingredients, even if I mentioned them here as ingredients you shouldn’t use together!
The difference between a single product with two actives and two products with different actives is that the single product was formulated by a professional. Someone who understands how those ingredients work mixed them in a specific way to help amplify their benefits and reduce negative side effects, so feel free to go ahead and give it a try!
Do you have a favorite drugstore skincare products you would recommend to others?