What Skin Care Products Should You Mix and Not Mix?

Today, I’m going to go over different anti-aging ingredients that you can (and should) mix and ingredients that you should NOT mix. The main reason to avoid mixing certain ingredients is that it affects your skin’s pH balance and/or causes it to dry out.

So what skin care products should you mix and not mix?

What skin care products should you mix?

  • Mix Retinol and Glycerin
  • Mix Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid
  • Mix Vitamin C and Vitamin E
  • Mix Vitamin C and Folic Acid

What skin care products should you NOT mix?

  • Do Not Mix Vitamin C and AHA
  • Do Not Mix Vitamin C and Retinol
  • Do Not Mix Retinol, AHA, and Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Do Not Mix AHA and Niacinamide

Why exactly do these combinations work or don’t work so well? Read more to find out!

When cosmetic chemists create a product for a specific skin care line, they—in an ideal world—make sure that it is pH-compatible with the other products in the same line. The reality, however, is that you will buy a cleanser from one company, and then you’ll buy a cream from another company. So most of the time, you’re mixing and matching.

Whenever I do a skin care consultation, in addition to advising on the best lifestyle and diet for better skin, I also ask the person how all their different products are working for them. The client will often say that they don’t really see a whole lot of difference. To tell you the truth, it could be because they’re using products that neutralize the effects of the ingredients in their other products.

I understand that not everybody can use one single skincare line, which is why I recommend using pH-compatible products. This way, even though you might not be able to use products from the same skincare line, their pH levels will still work together.

When you mix incompatible ingredients together, the worst that can happen is you’ll end up with dry and irritated skin. You may even get breakouts or inflamed skin. At best, the efficacy of the products will be neutralized, and you won’t see a whole lot of difference.

When it comes to more expensive serums and eye creams—especially those for anti-aging or anti-acne—you’re purchasing them for the quality of the ingredients and the efficacy of the products. So when you’re not seeing any difference in your skin, you wonder what’s going on. This is why you want to make sure that the pH is correct. Read on for our answer to what skincare products should you mix and not mix?

Skin Care Products That Work Well Together so Should Be Mixed

Here are a few good combos that you can and should use on your skin…

Mix Retinol and Glycerin

The first combo I recommend is retinol and glycerin. If you’re using Retin A, you can do Retin A and glycerin. This is because retinol is a very common anti-aging ingredient. It speeds up your skin cell turnover rate, and it has the tendency to dry out your skin.

Glycerin, on the other hand, is typically a vegetable-based humectant. It draws moisture from the environment and binds it to your skin. So while one ingredient is dehydrating your skin, the other one is actually increasing your skin’s ability to hold moisture.

Mix Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid

Another good combo is retinol and hyaluronic acid. Retinol products can help visibly diminish the look of wrinkles, increase firmness, improve uneven skin tone, smooth and refine the top layer, and help mitigate the effects of environmental stressors. Retinol can, however, dehydrate the skin because it speeds up the skin cell turnover rate.

By mixing it with Hyaluronic acid, it helps to prevent the dehydration of your skin. Hyaluronic acid is typically gel-based and, like glycerin, is a humectant. This means it can hold up to a thousand times its weight in water. That’s great for people who tend to break out easier because it’s not occlusive, and it’s water-based. We make it in our own bodies, so no one can be allergic to hyaluronic acid.

Mix Vitamin C and Vitamin E

The next combo is vitamin C and vitamin E. Those ingredients work great together. Vitamin C is more common and well known, but the reason they work synergistically together is that when the vitamin C antioxidant neutralizes free radicals, it needs to regenerate itself again to keep fighting those free radicals.

And that’s when vitamin E steps in. It helps regenerate and re-energize that vitamin C to keep working.

Mix Vitamin C and Folic Acid

The next combo is quite popular among savvy skincare enthusiasts, and this is vitamin C and folic acid. If you can get vitamin C and vitamin E with folic acid, then that’s even better. Folic acid is a plant-based antioxidant, and it’s usually derived from rice bran oil. What folic acid does is that it stabilizes both vitamin C and vitamin E because we all know that vitamin C is highly oxidative.

It breaks down very quickly when exposed to air, heat, and/or light. Not only does folic acid stabilize it, but it also doubles the photo-aging protection of sunscreens. This is why it’s such a great combination, and it’s also one of the reasons why rice powders work better than your typical translucent powders.

Skin Care Products That DO NOT Work Well Together so They SHOULD NOT Be Mixed

Let’s move on to the ingredients you should never mix…

Do Not Mix Vitamin C and AHA

The first combo you should not mix is vitamin C and AHA. AHA stands for alpha hydroxy acids, and the most common one is glycolic acid. You don’t want to mix those two because together, they can irritate the skin. Both are acids, so that combo can be irritating to some skin types, especially sensitive skin.

Do Not Mix Vitamin C and Retinol

Another incompatible combo is vitamin C and retinol—for the same reason. Together, these ingredients can be irritants. Retinol increases the skin cell turnover rate and thins the skin, so your skin may not be able to tolerate vitamin C because the lipid barrier may be compromised.

Do Not Mix Retinol, AHA, and Benzoyl Peroxide

The next one is retinol, AHA, and benzoyl peroxide. If you’re trying to fight aging, acne, and premature fine lines and wrinkles, and you’re trying to target as many issues as possible, please don’t do this. Don’t layer these ingredients on top of each other. Benzoyl peroxide and retinol can make your skin really dry, and AHA may cause possible irritation.

You can use them on the same day, just don’t layer them on top of each other. For instance, you can use benzoyl peroxide in the morning and then use retinol or AHA in the evening. But usually, if you start combining these three, you will see a lot of irritation, a lot of drying, and a lot of inflamed skin.

Do Not Mix AHA and Niacinamide

Another one is AHA and niacinamide. Niacinamide is otherwise known as vitamin B3. It’s also an antioxidant. The low pH of AHAs can actually cause the niacinamide to turn into nicotinic acid. We don’t want that to happen, so you want to avoid these two together. This is another instance where you can use two different serums, but use one during the day and one during the evening.

Option two is you can also use a toner that balances out pH and increases the efficacy of anti-aging ingredients. Another thing you can do is put the first serum directly onto dry skin and wait about 10 minutes or so. I would probably do vitamin C first because it’s more oxidative. Then, feel your skin. If your skin is nice and smooth, then you can do the toner. When your face is completely saturated, you can apply the other serum.

After a few more minutes, you can apply your night cream. If you’re doing a night cream, make sure it’s not glycolic acid that has any AHAs in them. In the end, you want a combination that helps to slow down aging and makes you look your best, younger, fresher, healthier self.

See the below video for more tips on the skincare ingredients that you should never mix:

Conclusion – What Skin Care Products Should You Mix and Not Mix?

So what skin care products should you mix and not mix?

What skin care products should you mix?

  • Mix Retinol and Glycerin
  • Mix Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid
  • Mix Vitamin C and Vitamin E
  • Mix Vitamin C and Folic Acid

What skin care products should you NOT mix?

  • Do Not Mix Vitamin C and AHA
  • Do Not Mix Vitamin C and Retinol
  • Do Not Mix Retinol, AHA, and Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Do Not Mix AHA and Niacinamide

Related Questions

Can you use vitamin C and salicylic acid together? It’s best to use vitamin C and salicylic acid separately rather than together. This is because acidic ingredients like glycolic or salicylic acid can alter the pH balance, which can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin C.

Can you use Retin A and vitamin C together? Some may experience dryness when using Retin A and vitamin C together. To avoid this and other possible issues, use Retin-A in the morning and vitamin C in the evening.

Can you mix niacinamide and retinol? Although it is safe to use niacinamide and retinol together, it is more effective if you use them separately. A recommended routine for maximum benefit is to use retinol in the morning and niacinamide at night before bed.