What skincare products not to mix

What skincare products not to mix

SkinCare Physicians in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, employs dermatologist Brooke Sikora, MD, who states that certain substances are incompatible. According to her, layering components that are difficult to keep stable in a recipe, raising the possibility of discomfort when mixed, or neutralizing each other out when combined are not recommended. Are you providing your favourite creams and serums with the attention they deserve? We thus contacted Chan and numerous other board-certified dermatologists to list the ingredients in skin care products that you should never use together, as well as their recommended substitutes. Let’s talk about what skin care products are not to mix. 

You can ensure that every element of your routine is helping you achieve your good-skin goals and works for you by streamlining it with some knowledge.

In the following situations, extreme vigilance is necessary:

Both benzoyl peroxide and retinoid

Why Not Combine: Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinoids, including Retinol, are potent medicines that combat acne. Nevertheless, when combined, they have the potential to deactivate one another, making both goods useless. Combining these can also result in severe discomfort and dryness.

Alternatively, take benzoyl peroxide in the morning and retinoid at night. You should switch the days you use them if your skin is sensitive.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) with Vitamin C

Why Not Combine: AHAs, such as glycolic acid, exfoliate the skin, while vitamin C, an antioxidant, helps to brighten and minimise indications of ageing in the skin. Their different pH values can cancel each other out and reduce their combined effectiveness. Additionally, this combination may irritate the skin.

Option: Use AHAs at night to help your skin regenerate and exfoliate, and Vitamin C in the morning to benefit from its UV protection capabilities.

Vitamin C and niacinamide

Vitamin C and niacinamide

Why Not Combine: Conventional skincare advice advises that the advantages of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and niacinamide (vitamin B3) may cancel each other out. However, there is some controversy on this. Additionally, they may combine to create a substance that can irritate skin.

As an alternative, use vitamin C and niacinamide at separate times of the day or on consecutive days to maximise their advantages and prevent any potential conflicts.

AHAs/BHAs and retinoid

Why Not Combine: Strong exfoliants include retinoids and AHAs/BHAs (beta hydroxy acids, such as salicylic acid). They may cause over-exfoliation, irritation, peel, and redness when used in tandem.

As an alternative, use AHAs and BHAs one night and retinoid-containing products the next to give your skin a rest and let each product do its job without harming it.

Vitamin C with Benzoyl Peroxide

Why Not Combine: Vitamin C’s antioxidant qualities and potency may be diminished by benzoyl peroxide’s ability to oxidise it. The likelihood of dryness and skin irritation may also rise with this combination.

As an alternative, use Vitamin C in the morning and Benzoyl Peroxide in the evening to prevent interactions and guarantee that each product functions as well as it can.

Water- and Oil-Based Products

Why Not Mix: Because of their disparate consistencies, items with an oil and a water base don’t mix well. When an oil-based product is used on top of a water-based product, improper absorption may occur, decreasing both efficacy.

Option: To guarantee optimal absorption and maximum benefits, layer your skincare products from thinnest to thickest consistency, beginning with water-based products and ending with oil-based ones.

Retinol with Salicylate

The beta hydroxy acid (BHA) variant is another acid and retinol marriage to be avoided. According to Shirazi, salicylic acid is far too drying and harsh for your skin to handle.

Because niacinamide has anti-inflammatory qualities that can help soothe skin, Shirazi also recommends it as a replacement for retinol and salicylic acid. Niacinamide, she claims, efficiently banishes breakouts with salicylic acid by controlling oil production, minimising clogged pores, and exfoliating the face. 

Aczone, also known as Dapsone & Benzoyl Peroxide.

Do you know the saying that you’ll start to look like a carrot if you eat too many of them? According to Chan, applying topical dapsone and benzoyl peroxide simultaneously can result in the same kind of orange colouring on your skin without actually eating any carrots. Just use one of the acne-treating chemicals at a time to stay true to your actual colours. Additionally, remember that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid work well together. 

Cleanser Made with Soap and Vitamin C

Cleanser Made with Soap and Vitamin C

The purpose of vitamin C is as a morning supplement. However, the prior cleansing agent you use is also essential. As previously stated, vitamin C functions best in formulations with a low pH. However, according to Leslie Baumann, MD, using a soap-based cleanser with a high pH will eventually make it harder for the skin to absorb vitamin C. That presents a challenge. A study analysis indicated that free radicals age skin, so you are losing out on protection against it, and high-quality vitamin C products (like Skinceuticals C E Ferulic) can get pricey.

Advice for a Well-Balanced Skincare Programme

  • Patch Test: Before adding new items to your routine, always do a patch test to see how your skin responds.
  • Gradually Introduce: Start with a single new product and observe how your skin reacts.
  • Pay Attention to Your Skin Review your product combinations and frequency of use if you encounter irritation, redness, or breakouts.
  • See an Expert in Dermatology: Seeking counsel from a dermatologist is always a good idea, particularly if you have sensitive skin or specific skin concerns.



Retinol is a peeling agent that promotes cell turnover to remove damaged and old skin cells, but it doesn’t exfoliate like AHAs and BHAs do. Combining it with acids increases skin sensitivity to the sun, increasing the risk of burning and UV damage. It can also cause dryness, irritation, and skin moisture skin’s damage. To reap the benefits of each, use these substances on different days or weeks. 


Although more isn’t necessarily better, both substances function by eliminating dead skin cells from the top layers of your skin. While salicylic acid and glycolic acid work well together (alone or in pre-made combinations), combining the two at home runs the risk of seriously damaging your skin layer. Just one word: hurt.  


Though combining or layering these components will only sometimes work, AHAs/BHAs (such as glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids) can help to improve skin texture, pigmentation, acne, and indications of aging. While niacinamide has a higher pH of about 5-7, acids have a low pH of 3-4. The niacinamide increases the acid’s pH when coupled, making it less effective and absorbent. This combination may also result in flushing and redness. 


The sheer number of skincare products on the market might make navigating it challenging. Although layering products might improve your skincare regimen, some combinations can be detrimental. You can optimise your skincare routine for healthier, more radiant skin by knowing which skin care products are best left alone.

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