It’s no secret that you can supercharge your skin care by combining stellar ingredients for maximum results. But unfortunately, not all skin care combinations are meant to be. While some ingredients come together and happily complement each other, others just flat out don’t get along — which can wreak havoc on your skin. With our handy guide, minimize the likelihood of damaging product pairings and embrace dream skin care partnerships. Read on to find out more.
Let's Talk About Conventional Retinol
While retinol might be the ingredient on everyone’s lips, it’s also a problematic favorite and even long-term skin care aficionados take some time getting their skin used to it. According to Everyday Health, retinol/retinoids perform their magic by stimulating skin cell turnover which manifests physically as an intense exfoliation to reveal new skin underneath. This can lead to dryness, irritation and even peeling. Although retinol might be strong enough to soften fine lines and wrinkles, it is also strong enough to cause some damage when paired with the wrong product.
It’s important to note that Eminence Organic Skin Care products do not contain conventional retinol. Conventional retinol is a synthetic chemical derived from Vitamin A which may dry up your skin and cause peeling when overused. In comparison, Eminence Organics products contain a Natural Retinol Alternative derived from botanical extracts of the tara tree and chicory root. Natural Retinol Alternative mimics the benefits of conventional retinol to give you similar benefits and mixing products with this ingredient is no issue. Products with Natural Retinol Alternative can be safely used with other skin care products without risking the side effects mentioned above, such as irritation, dryness or peeling.
However, if conventional retinol is your ingredient of choice, read the following guide to avoid risky pairings with retinol as well as other potent ingredients.
Wrong Combo: Conventional Retinol And AHAs
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — such as lactic acid, glycolic acid or mandelic acid — and retinol both work by stimulating cell turnover through exfoliation. It's no wonder that using these two types of ingredients together is a no-no. The combination can lead to serious over-exfoliation, dry, irritated skin and can even damage the skin barrier over time.
However, if you find yourself loyal to two products (don’t we know that feeling), you don’t have to abandon one for the other. Simply avoid using your retinol and AHA products at the same time. Either alternate your product usage to different days or use your retinol at night and your AHA throughout the day.
Wrong Combo: Conventional Retinol And Vitamin C
Unfortunately, Vitamin C and retinol aren’t friends either. Combining the two can lead to redness, irritation and peeling. Plus, the combination can make skin sensitive to the sun. There’s also a risk of retinol messing with the pH of the Vitamin C which can destabilize the product, potentially rendering it inactive as a skin care ingredient.
The fix here is easy though. Retinol is best suited to a nighttime routine, away from any UV light and left to soak into the skin through the night. Vitamin C is better for daytime use due to its ability to combat the damage left by environmental stressors like UV rays and pollution. Always layer an SPF over the top to protect from sun damage and make sure to rinse your face in the morning to remove any residual retinol from the night before.
Wrong Combo: Salicylic Acid And Conventional Retinol
In theory, using salicylic acid and retinol at the same time makes sense; salicylic acid clears breakout-prone skin while retinol softens fine lines. However, this is not a combination we'd recommend trying. It shouldn't surprise you to read that using salicylic acid and retinol together does increase the chance of drying out the skin and can lead to irritation. What may be surprising though is that this combination can result in the skin overproducing oil to compensate for this new dryness leading to even more breakouts. A true nightmare! This catch-22 is solved by separating the two products. Use your salicylic acid products to treat breakout-prone skin during the day (it’s perfectly safe) and keep all retinol usage to nighttime.
You can also watch our Lead Skin Care Trainer, Natalie Pergar, discuss the skin care ingredients you should not mix in further detail in this In The Mix video.
Right Combo: Conventional Retinol And Hyaluronic Acid
Unlike retinol, there aren’t many products that don’t agree with hyaluronic acid, which is why we’re so pleased to tell you these two make a lovely team. Hyaluronic acid’s hydration benefits pair wonderfully with the drying nature of retinol. A hyaluronic acid serum or even moisturizer can even counteract the drying effects of retinol working to reduce the effects of any irritation and helping the skin to replenish and rehydrate.
Right Combo: Niacinamide And Vitamin C
We love both niacinamide and Vitamin C separately for their general ease of use and many benefits. But together, this is one powerful duo. Some recent skin care myth-busting debunked the once widely held belief that the two should not be used together, an idea that originated from research in the 1960s that is no longer relevant to how we use and store products today. The news is very exciting considering the hydration, brightening and skin-smoothing benefits of both.
Right Combo: SPF Layered On Top Of Anything!
Although you can layer SPF over almost any skin care products (and you should, every day!), it shouldn’t be mixed in with any other products before applying. SPF is considered by many to be the most important product in your daily skin care routine and retaining your SPF product’s integrity is paramount for its efficacy as a guard against the sun and UV light. This is one product that can't be improved by mixing with other skin care products and we'd advise against mixing it in with makeup or moisturizer. Instead, layer the sunscreen onto the skin by itself as the last step in your routine, once any products underneath have had a few minutes to settle into the skin.
Fun fact: there’s some research to support that a Vitamin C product sitting under a good sunscreen can add additional protection against the sun, so don't forget to apply your Vitamin C serum beforehand too!
Do you have any powerful skin care ingredient combinations you swear by? We’d love to hear about them. Let us know in the comments or on our social media.