Is It Safe To Use Vitamin C And Retinol Together?

Beautiful skin is always in, and we go to great lengths in the quest to get that. With new and innovative ingredients making their way to the skincare aisles, it's easy to give in to the temptation to buy everything that promises us flawless, younger-looking skin, but without enough proof, adding random skincare products to our routine could harm our skin more than benefit it. No one can argue the importance of sunscreen and its benefits for skin health, for instance, and two other super popular ingredients are retinol and vitamin c because of the magical effects they can have on our skin.

In fact, Amanda von dem Hagen, a licensed esthetician and regional education specialist for Skinbetter Science, told Today, "Retinol is a gold-standard ingredient in skincare because it alters the behavior of aged cells, so they act in a more youthful manner. It smooths and refines skin's texture, enhances skin radiance, and treats aging." Retinol stimulates collagen production and is a great anti-aging ingredient; plus, it can delay premature signs of aging.

On the other hand, vitamin C is the ultimate skin brightener. "The antioxidant activity of vitamin C protects against UV-induced damage caused by free radicals, which will prevent accelerated aging and skin cancer," board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Libby told InStyle. Dr. Libby added that it also increases collagen production and skin firmness and lightens dark spots. Since both are anti-aging ingredients, you'd think using them together could double the benefit, but here's what dermatologists have to say about it.

What dermatologists say about using vitamin C and retinol together

Retinol and vitamin c help boost collagen production, improve the appearance of your skin, and have wonderful anti-aging benefits, so you'd think it'd make sense to use them together, but that's not the case. Since both ingredients can irritate your skin, it might not be a good idea to use them together. Plus, there's a possibility of their efficacy being "compromised," per The Zoe Report. Board-certified dermatologist Anna Guanche told the outlet, "I generally don't recommend layering these two products, but they work very well with alternating use." If a dermatologist says no-no to combining the two, we should probably listen to the professional.

Azadeh Shirazi, a board-certified dermatologist, calls retinol and vitamin C a "power couple" because they are a blessing for your skin but recommends avoiding using them together due to the "risk of irritation" (via Byrdie). Dr. Shirazi doesn't think it's best to use them together, despite their magical benefits as they might stress your skin out. Instead, she recommends using them at different times so they can still work their magic individually.

According to Sara Hogan, a board-certified dermatologist, the two ingredients "work best in different skin environments," and using them together might make one less effective since both increase cell turnover. She recommends using both — but just not at the same time, per Self. Still, you can use both even if not at the same time.

How to effectively use vitamin C and retinol

Just because you can't use vitamin C and retinol together doesn't mean you can't use both at different times of the day. The best time to apply vitamin C is in the morning just after cleansing your skin. Then, follow up with your moisturizer and sunscreen (via Self). The efficiency of vitamin C depends on its concentration, and you can choose between 5% and 20% depending on your skin type. It's actually a great idea to use vitamin C with vitamin E and ferulic acid because they work together beautifully.

"At bedtime, I recommend applying a retinoid. Some retinoids are degraded by sunlight, so it is best to use them at night," Dr. Hadley King, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, told The Zoe Report. So, save your retinol serums and creams for bedtime so your skin can rejuvenate itself while you're sleeping. Retinol is also available in various concentrations between 0.025% to 1%, so choose accordingly; the lower the concentration, the gentler it will be on your skin. Plus, retinol can increase sun sensitivity, so it's best to use it at night for it to really do its job well. Both ingredients can be unstable, so store them in cool, dark places and choose opaque packaging so they last longer.

Using vitamin C in the morning with SPF and retinol at night is the perfect skincare routine to reap the benefits of both the ingredients for glowy skin without irritation.