Can you use Vitamin C with Retinol?

Can you use Vitamin C with Retinol?

There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about how best to use these two potent topical ingredients. Here, we’ll break it all down for you, from what vitamin C and retinol do for you, to when and how to best apply them.

Can you use Vitamin C and Retinol Together?

Before we answer that question, it’s important to understand what vitamin C and retinol actually do for your skin.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant with multiple benefits that helps to protect your skin by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules caused by external sources such as pollution, cigarette smoke and UV rays as well as the normal processes of your metabolism. They can break down your skin’s collagen, causing wrinkles, sagging skin, and other damage, including photo damage.

Not only can free radicals break down your collagen through oxidative stress, but we also lose collagen as we age. But vitamin C can help. It is the only antioxidant proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen, minimizing fine lines, scars, and wrinkles. Even Hailey Bieber uses it in her Skincare routine.

L-ascorbic acid is the chemically active form of vitamin C. And, L-ascorbic acid actually inhibits the enzymes responsible for collagen breakdown in the first place.

Further, protects your skin against both the UVA and UVB rays of the sun. This is important because UVA rays are the ones that destroy collagen, elastin and other cellular structures, causing skin aging. However, it is not a substitute for sunscreen and should always be used with a sunscreen of 30 SPF or higher.

Vitamin C can also brighten your skin and diminish the look of hyperpigmentation (age spots, sun spots and dark spots) on the skin. It does this by interfering with tyrosinase, an important link in the chain to the production of melanin, which produces dark pigmentation. Find here what vitamin c can do for your skin.

People cannot synthesize vitamin C like plants and animals, so we have to get it in other ways, through our diet and through our skincare regimen. The use of topical ascorbic acid is favored in the practice of dermatology, so you should look for vitamin C serums with the active form of ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, for maximum effectiveness in your skincare.

Benefits of Retinol

Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. It is the non-prescription form of what are commonly called retinoids, which include tretinoin (Retin-A). Vitamin A is the first to be approved by the FDA as an anti wrinkle agent with anti aging effects. Retinol especially is among the most effective substances delaying the aging process.

Retinol, like Vitamin C, stimulates collagen production and protects collagen from being broken down, though it is not an antioxidant. It also stimulates the production of elastin which improves the elasticity of your skin, further reducing fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin.

Retinol will turn into retinoic acid which, in turn, boosts cell turnover. This not only fights fine lines and wrinkles, but it also helps with evening your skin tone and fading dark spots. It also aids in the treatment of acne by unclogging pores and preventing blackheads.

But, Retinol has a tendency to dry the skin and sometimes irritate. Also, it makes the skin more sensitive to the sun.

So, can you use vitamin C and retinol together?

The answer is yes. It all depends on how you apply them.

Can I use Vitamin C serum in the Morning and Retinol at Night?

Yes. This is the most favored method of applying these products.

UV radiation causes up to 80 percent of skin damage from all environmental factors. Vitamin C serum can not only help to prevent this damage, but to repair it when applied in the morning. Its antioxidant properties fight the free radicals caused by UV exposure that damage the skin.

So cleanse, apply your vitamin C serum, moisturize, and then apply a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. Remember, you’re looking for L-ascorbic acid at a maximum concentration of 20 percent for best results.

You’ll want a serum in a dark or opaque bottle because vitamin C is sensitive to light, air and heat and can oxidize over time. So take care how you store your bottle. If the serum turns brown, don’t use it as it has oxidized.

As with any other new treatment, you should do a patch test before applying vitamin C to your whole face. You may also want to work up to using it every day as well.

Most dermatologists agree that Retinol should be applied at night. Retinol can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. You’ll want to make sure you use sunscreen the next day, regardless.

For your nighttime routine, cleanse at least once, apply your retinol and then moisturizer.

Just like with vitamin C serum, you’ll want to do a patch test before you start using retinol and you probably don’t want to begin using both products at the same time. It’s best to introduce one such potent product to your skin at a time.

Since retinol is often drying and can irritate, you may well need to start slowly and work up to everyday use.

Can you use Retinol and Vitamin C together?

While the consensus seems to be to use these two products separately, as outlined above, the following studies show how they can be used together to achieve desirable results.

Two double blind studies were done on postmenopausal women with aged or photaged skin. These studies revealed that repeated application of a topical preparation containing both retinol and vitamin C at least partially reversed skin changes caused both by aging and photoaging. So, using topical retinol and vitamin C together repaired both older skin and UV damaged skin.

A clinical study over 12 weeks using a 0.5 percent solution of retinol and an antiaging moisturizer with 30 percent vitamin C was conducted on women with mild to moderate hyperpigmentation (dark spots) and photodamaged skin. This showed statistically significant improvement for all parameters assessed. In other words, the dark spots and UV damage got significantly better. The only statistically significant tolerability issue was dryness.

So, can you use vitamin C with retinol? These studies would suggest so. But they were done in a controlled environment, not at home with over-the-counter ingredients. Still, let’s look at this question in some more depth.

Can I use Both Vitamin C and Retinol at Night?

It is generally recommended that you not layer these two on at the same time. They have different pH’s which can cause each to be less effective or even ineffective. The best way is to use them separately.

If you want to use them both at night, you could use them on alternate nights.

One argument for using vitamin C at night though is that UV rays lower vitamin C levels in your skin, so topical vitamin C would be better used after UV exposure rather than before.

Still, using vitamin C and retinol together could cause quite a lot of irritation to the skin.

However, if you really want to use both products at night, and you have already conditioned your skin to both of them, you can apply vitamin C first, wait at least 30 minutes, then apply your retinol. This is because vitamin C has a lower pH and you want your skin’s pH to return closer to normal before you add the retinol or it won’t absorb as well.

Monitor your skin for reaction, and be sure to moisturize well and use sunscreen in the morning.

Can I use Retinol, Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid Together?

First, it would be helpful to understand what hyaluronic acid is and what its benefits are.

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a humectant, which means it draws in moisture. Hyaluronic acid can bind 1000 times its volume in water. Although the HA molecules used in most over-the-counter products are too large to penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin, hyaluronic acid still hydrates the skin and reduces the evaporation of water from it. This is a great benefit as your skin’s aging has a lot to do with a decrease in its moisture level.

We lose HA from our skin as we age, but using hyaluronic acid topically keeps our skin hydrated, lessens the appearance of wrinkles, and smooths the skin.

And, it works for all skin types.

So, to combine all three, use your vitamin C serum in the morning after cleansing. Next use you hyaluronic acid serum. Follow that with a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF.

Hyaluronic acid can be used safely twice a day, so you can use it at night with your retinol as well. There are two schools of thought about when to apply it though.

One method is to apply retinol to clean, dry skin and then apply your hyaluronic acid serum or moisturizer. The other method is to apply the hyaluronic acid first, and then apply your retinol to help avoid drying and irritation. You may wish to consult your own dermatologist on this subject.

There is no disagreement, however, that SPF of at least 30 must be applied the next morning.

If you do decide to use vitamin C and retinol together at night, hyaluronic acid can easily be added to your skin care regimen. You would add it either between the vitamin C and the retinol, or after the retinol. Do be sure to wait 30 minutes after applying the vitamin C before applying anything else. Then wait 20 to 30 minutes after applying retinol before you apply your hyaluronic acid to allow the retinol to sink in.

What should you Not use Retinol with?

Don’t mix retinol with vitamin C (except as described above), or with benzyl peroxide, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) like glycolic and salicylic acid. AHAs and BHAs are chemical exfoliants and help remove dead skin cells from the top layer of your skin. Since retinol already does this by promoting cell turnover, using them together can cause irritation and dryness and increase sun sensitivity.

Check out what Hailey Bieber has to say about it!

If you want to use AHAs and BHAs and retinol, use them on alternating nights.

Benzyl peroxide and retinol basically neutralize each other, which is why you shouldn’t use them together. Again, you can alternate them if you want to use them both.

What can you Not mix with Vitamin C?

Don’t mix vitamin C with retinol (except as described above), or with AHAs and BHAs, Benzyl peroxide or niacinamide (vitamin B3).

Since AHAs and BHAs are both acids like vitamin C, they can alter the pH balance necessary for vitamin C to work and ruin its effectiveness. Also, their exfoliant nature, in conjunction with vitamin C, can cause irritation. So it’s best to either use vitamin C in the morning and AHAs and BHAs at night, or alternate days or nights of use.

Benzyl peroxide can oxidize vitamin C and make it much less effective. So if you want to use both, use them at different times of the day, such as vitamin C in the morning and benzyl peroxide at night.

Finally, vitamin C and niacinamide are both antioxidants, but using them together isn’t necessarily good. For one thing, the combination of the two can actually trigger acne breakouts rather than soothe them. Furthermore, their pH levels can make each less effective when used together.

But, niacinamide can prevent fine lines and wrinkles, even out pigmentation, and help reduce acne. If you do decide to use vitamin C and niacinamide together, make sure you wait at least 10 minutes between applications of each. And don’t forget to moisturize and apply sunscreen.

Or, you could use vitamin C in the morning and niacinamide at night. Even if you are also using retinol at night, niacinamide is fine with retinol. In fact, they work well together.

As you can see, vitamin C is a powerful tool in your skincare arsenal. But, in its purest and most active form, L-ascorbic acid, it can be unstable and may oxidize within a few months when exposed to light, air and heat. This limits its usefulness to a short window.

What if you could get a vitamin C serum containing 20 percent pure and stable L-ascorbic acid that would never oxidize or turn brown, and remain potent to the last drop? Beautystat’s Universal C Skin Refiner is the world’s first such serum.

Containing a gentle exfoliator and pH balanced for maximum absorption into the deeper layers of your skin, Universal C Skin Refiner is a great option for your vitamin C serum needs.