October 23, 2018 0 Comments


By: Samantha Rizzo


The skin care industry is in no short supply of amazing active ingredients that do everything from healing and repairing our skin, to restoring vibrance and protecting it. With so many active ingredients to choose from, it can be confusing trying to fit them all into your routine.

Can I use retinol if I’m using benzoyl peroxide? Can I use vitamin C and glycolic acid at the same time? Making the wrong choice might end up spelling disaster for your skin.

Rather than trying to fix damage done, let’s just avoid the headache altogether.

Here is a list of important active ingredients not to mix.


A popular and effective choice for many who deal with stubborn acne, benzoyl peroxide can be a huge saving grace.

But benzoyl peroxide (BP) is a pretty powerful ingredient, even at the recommended concentration of 2.5%.

BP works by killing bacteria and causing the skin to dry and peel. This works wonders for clearing up acne but doesn’t do so well with other products that do the same.

This means that BP shouldn’t be used with:

⦁ Retinoids
⦁ Hydroxy acids
⦁ Vitamin C
⦁ Physical exfoliants

That doesn’t mean that you can’t fit these other awesome ingredients into your routine elsewhere. For retinoids, hydroxy acids, and physical exfoliants, just use them at a different time of day.

Vitamin C can be applied over benzoyl peroxide, just make sure you wait 5-10 minutes for it to dry.

However, BP does play well with ingredients like salicylic acid, and with that formula your acne won’t stand a chance.


Retinol is one of the best ingredients we have for fighting things like acne and signs of aging. Once you hit your mid twenties, retinol becomes a valuable addition to your routine.

But retinol also doesn’t play nicely with others. Retinol shouldn’t be used with:

⦁ Benzoyl peroxide
⦁ Hydroxy acids
⦁ Vitamin C
⦁ Physical exfoliants

Because retinol and hydroxy acids both accelerate skin cell turnover, using both together can be potentially drying, and unnecessarily irritating. This ends up doing more harm than good to your skin, so use them on different days.

Benzoyl peroxide and retinol, both being powerful (and drying), can end up cancelling out the benefits of each other. Since we don’t want to waste our expensive products, use these at different times of day.

If you want to enhance the benefits of your retinol, however, it mixes beautifully with ferulic and hyaluronic acids.


Vitamin C is valuable for healing and protecting the skin, but it’s also unstable in some formulas, and can easily be oxidized by improper handling and use.

Since vitamin C needs an acidic environment to work, it shouldn’t be used with:

⦁ Niacinamide
⦁ Retinol
⦁ Hydroxy acids

Although hydroxy acids may be an appropriate pH level for vitamin C, it’s still best to use these at separate times, to avoid the risk of irritation. Mixing vitamin C with acne powerhouse niacinamide can also end up making the redness and inflammation in your skin much worse.

However, vitamin C does play very well with vitamin E and ferulic acid, both of which enhance vitamin C’s effectiveness.

Overall, there aren’t too many ingredients not to mix, and for the most part you may only experience some mild irritation or end up wasting valuable product.

Regardless, it’s always best to use active ingredients like these at different times of day (and always use sunscreen).