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There are lots of active ingredients. All of them claim to achieve this or that, which can make you want to start mixing products together to achieve your goal. Doing this can cause more harm than good.
That is why I will break down what skincare active ingredients are, and how not to mix them together. which active ingredient goes with which. So sit down, relax and keep reading.
Skincare active ingredients range from synthetic to natural (from plants or animals). But for the sake of this post, I will mention just a few common ones. If I did not mention the active ingredients you would like to know more about, kindly let me know in the comment section.
What Are Skincare Active Ingredients?
In the world of skincare, active ingredients are by far the most important because they cause real changes to the appearance of the skin. Whether you are trying to treat hyperpigmentation, wrinkle, inflammation, tone, or oil control. It will lead far to mention all but the point is that active ingredients deliver results.
The goal of active ingredients is to affect skin performance as well as protect the skin barrier. However, since active ingredients act at the cellular level, they end up irritating the skin when mixed together. If you have sensitive skin, mixing lots of actives together can be too much for your skin.
Every skincare product has at least one active ingredient but for the sake of this post, I will focus on the most common active ingredients in skincare.
Skincare Active Ingredients Not To Mix
1. Vitamin A – Retinoids
Vitamin A or retinoids such as tretinoin, retinol, adapalene, and retinyl esters are all-powerful active ingredients for anti-aging. If you are really looking for the gold standard anti-aging ingredient, it is this one. It synthesizes collagen and reduces the breakdown of collagen by inhibiting the enzyme to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
It also has its side effects. Before using vitamin A, ensure you read the beginner’s guide to retinoids. This will guide you on how to use this vitamin safely.
Do not mix
Vitamin A can be pretty drying when mixed with other actives. You should not mix retinol with AHA/BHA acids, Vitamin C, or Benzoyl peroxide if you have sensitive skin.
The combination of retinol and AHA/BHA is not bad but if your skin is sensitive, it can cause lots of damage. Since AHA/BHA exfoliates the skin which is the same as what vitamin A does, it is best to not mix both at the same time. You can alternate weekly.
Retinol and Vitamin C duo is lovely but using both at the same time renders both ineffective. It is best to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night.
Retinol and benzoyl peroxide both treat acne. Using both at the same time will render both ineffective.
Since retinol is drying, you can mix it with moisturizers that contain essential fatty acids such as ceramides, cholesterol, hyaluronic acid and fatty acids. When using retinol, use your sunscreens diligently because retinol can make your skin sensitive to the sun.
2. Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide
One of my all-time favourite vitamins. It is well tolerated and practically every skin type’s best friend. Niacinamide will leave your skin resistant to irritation, improve your skin barrier, hydrate your skin and overall improve your skin texture. If you really want to learn more about niacinamide, read the benefits of niacinamide
Do not mix
A lot of people have different opinions about not mixing niacinamide and vitamin c together. Some say that mixing both will render the other ineffective and cause the skin to flush. In my opinion, niacinamide is a pretty tough ingredient that can be combined with just about any ingredient.
Niacinamide with salicylic acid helps to reduce sebum production and boost collagen. Niacinamide with retinol is a powerful combination that helps improve the skin barrier and hydration – this combination works well when you use niacinamide 5 minutes before applying retinol. Also, another great combination is niacinamide plus N-acetyl glucosamine to help with hyperpigmentation.
3. Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C is one of those vitamins you can obtain in your diet. Since oral supplementation does not do much to the skin, topical ones were made to increase bioavailability. This vitamin is well researched and is known for its antioxidant effect, anti-inflammatory and synthesizing collagen. Read more on the benefits of vitamin C.
Do not mix
If you have sensitive skin, please do not mix vitamin c and AHA together. Since vitamin C and AHA work in low PH, mixing both will end up drying and irritating your skin. However, if your skin is not sensitive, this is a very powerful duo. While AHA is exfoliating, it gives a chance for vitamin C to boost collagen synthesis and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Mixing vitamin C, E and Ferulic acid is a straight-up anti-aging combination. Just like best friends, they work hand in hand to boost collagen and provide antioxidant properties. Also, just like I said earlier, you can mix vitamin c and niacinamide together to improve your skin barrier.
4. Hydroxy Acids
The hydroxy acid is AHA, BHA, PHA and bionic acids. The most used are the AHA which is well known for its anti-aging properties, improving hyperpigmentation and treatment of acne. Also, BHA (salicylic acid) is known for its exfoliating properties by going deep into the pores to remove excess sebum. You can read more about hydroxy acid by reading the beginner’s guide to chemical exfoliants.
Do not mix
Just like I said earlier, science is not against the combination of retinol and AHA’s but I care more about your skin than what science has to say. So, I would recommend you don’t mix both together. If you want to, you can alternate weekly.
In addition, it is not recommended to mix AHA and benzoyl peroxide for the treatment of acne. Combining both can over-exfoliate your skin which in turn damages your skin barrier. If you would really like to use both, you can use an AHA cleanser in the morning and a low concentration of benzoyl peroxide at night.
You can mix AHA and BHA together. While AHA exfoliates the skin surface, BHA goes deep into the pores to exfoliate. So it’s like bringing 2 close friends together. There are skincare products with this combination.
Although lots of research on this topic are not against mixing active ingredients together, it is usually better to stick to one active ingredient at a time for a healthy skin barrier. Mixing them can cause skin irritation while trying to get rid of certain skin conditions.
However, if you would like to have these active ingredients, it is best to look for them in one product because the cosmetologists have already done their research before releasing such products into the market.
Also, when using active ingredients, kindly moisturize and apply sunscreens diligently. This is because active ingredients increase your skin’s photosensitivity. I hope you have an idea of what skincare active ingredients not to mix together and what active ingredients go together.
Let me know what you think, I would love to hear from you