HOW TO USE RETINOL & VITAMIN C TOGETHER
Retinol and vitamin C are both powerful and highly effective skincare ingredients in their own right. With retinol’s potent anti-ageing benefits and vitamin C’s powerful antioxidant effects, it’s logical that people would seek to combine the two in their skincare routine. However, common misconceptions have left many people wondering whether mixing skincare ingredients is acceptable in this case.
Due to the contrasting characteristics of retinol and vitamin C, a measured and strategic approach is recommended when using these ingredients together. Nonetheless, with appropriate timing of application, retinol and vitamin C can work in harmony to deliver an enhanced combination of visible and preventative anti-ageing benefits to the complexion.
SKIN BENEFITS OF VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is an incredibly powerful naturally occurring antioxidant with widespread benefits to our overall health. As an antioxidant, vitamin C can help neutralise the harmful effects of the damaging unstable molecules known as free radicals. That’s why vitamin C is considered the gold standard in daily environmental protection.
As well as preventing cell damage caused by environmental aggressors, vitamin C is essential to the collagen synthesis process. By incorporating vitamin C into your skincare routine, you can achieve a collagen boost, a brightened complexion and more youthful and healthy-looking skin overall.
When considering the skin benefits of vitamin C, it’s also important to note that not all vitamin C serums are created equal. There are several forms of vitamin C and vitamin C derivatives that can be used in skincare, although this ingredient is difficult to keep stable from the exposure to light and air. Fortunately, SkinCeuticals products contain a stable formula featuring the purest form of vitamin C, namely L-ascorbic acid.
HOW TO APPLY VITAMIN C SERUM
SkinCeuticals recommends applying vitamin C serums to clean skin daily in the morning, immediately after cleansing and toning.
Our Phloretin CF serum is gentle enough to suit skin prone to mild acne, whereas our C E Ferulic Serum serum is formulated to effectively target dull skin with visible signs of ageing. Phloretin works to reduce the appearance of discolouration, while ferulic acid is an added antioxidant.
Both serums deliver powerful antioxidant benefits when you apply just 4-5 drops to the face, neck and chest. Using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with both serums is highly recommended for enhanced protection against daily environmental aggressors.
SKIN BENEFITS OF RETINOL
Retinol is a synthesised form of vitamin A that’s known as something of a ‘wonder ingredient’ in the skincare world. In scientific terms, retinoids bind to retinoic acid receptors in our skin to help increase skin cell turnover. This function means that retinol produces two key benefits for the skin from the inside out – it has both anti-acne and anti-ageing effects.
Increased skin cell turnover means retinol can reduce the formation of blemishes and acne. Retinol does this by preventing pores from becoming clogged with dead skin cells and excess sebaceous matter, meaning the material that forms comedones is sloughed away before they can form.
In terms of anti-ageing, retinol is effective at stimulating collagen synthesis and tightening the skin for a firmed, more youthful appearance. Retinol also refines the texture of the skin and evens out pigmentation, creating a smooth and radiant looking complexion.
HOW TO APPLY RETINOL
Our Retinol 0.3 is a concentrated facial cream with pure retinol that’s perfect for beginner retinol users. SkinCeuticals recommends using this cream in the evening only, beginning with one application per week before gradually increasing frequency as skin tolerance improves. Retinol creams can cause dryness and irritation, so be sure to work up to applying nightly or on alternate nights. Apply a small layer over the face and neck, avoiding lips and the eye contour. Be sure to use SPF 50+ sunscreen daily to protect your skin from the increased photosensitivity caused by retinol.
HOW TO USE RETINOL AND VITAMIN C TOGETHER
These two ingredients are clearly powerful when used individually, but can you use vitamin C and retinol together? The answer is a resounding yes, with a few caveats.
L-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C) needs to have a pH of approximately 3.5 or lower, or else it’s unable to penetrate the skin. In contrast, retinol is most effective at a higher pH between 5.0 and 6.0. The concern with using this pair directly after one another is that the large difference in pH may cause each ingredient to be delivered at a non-optimal pH, therefore diminishing the benefits of both ingredients. This interaction has led to a myth that these ingredients cannot be used as part of the same routine, but this is simply inaccurate.
The question of whether using retinol and vitamin C serums straight after one another diminishes skincare benefits is still the subject of scientific investigation, so at least for the moment, a strategic approach is advised. There are three main ways to use retinol and vitamin C together without risking rendering either ingredient ineffective.
USE VITAMIN C IN THE MORNING AND RETINOL AT NIGHT
Retinol is recommended for overnight use only and vitamin C is well suited to apply in the morning. In light of this, using your vitamin C in the morning and your retinol at night is a simple and easy way to ensure that these ingredients won’t interfere with one another. Applying your products at opposite ends of the day means your skin will be at its regular pH level for each application.
USE THE TWO INGREDIENTS ON ALTERNATING NIGHTS
Vitamin C is beneficial for environmental protection, however research shows it’s also beneficial to prevent damage that occurs hours after sun exposure has ceased. For this reason, using vitamin C and retinol on alternate nights is an effective option if you lack space in your morning routine.
APPLY AT LEAST 30 MINUTES APART AT NIGHT
If you’re pressed for time in the mornings and alternating nights isn’t an option, it can be possible to apply both retinol and vitamin C on the same night without prompting an interaction. Apply vitamin C first due to its lower pH, then wait at least 30 minutes for your skin pH to neutralise before applying your retinol.
STAY INFORMED WITH NEW DEVELOPMENTS
Conventional wisdom has long placed retinol and vitamin C on the list of Skincare ingredients not to mix directly, however recent developments are beginning to put this assumption under scrutiny. It’s possible that future research will re-evaluate the interaction between retinol and vitamin C, so staying abreast of new developments is recommended.
Now that you’re fully informed about how to use retinol and vitamin C together, read our Guide to Different Types of Vitamin C for Skin to learn more about this powerful antioxidant ingredient.