As skincare ingredients go, retinol (AKA vitamin A), and vitamin C are two of the most effective, popular ingredients you’ll find on the market. Both live up to the hype, and both should be a part of your daily skin care routine. That said, when used together, they can cause irritation– especially if you already have sensitive skin– so it’s imperative you learn how to use retinol and vitamin C together safely and effectively.
IN A NUTSHELL
Main Takeaways: Retinol and vitamin C can be easily and effectively used together, as long as they’re not used at the same time.
Good to Know: By allowing plenty of time between the application of retinol and vitamin C, even those with sensitive skin can avoid irritation.
What Are the Benefits of Retinol?
Also known as vitamin A, retinol is an antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental stressors trying to harm it. It has incredible anti-aging properties thanks to its ability to increase cell turnover and encouraging collagen production. By doing so, it keeps your look firm and tight and smooths lines and wrinkles. It also helps to refine pores and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
One note: retinol is frequently--and mistakenly--thought of as being
an exfoliant. In fact, it is not, so don’t count on using it as such.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C?
Although vitamin C performs a myriad of functions, it’s probably most widely known for its ability to brighten skin. Like retinol, vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect skin from environmental stressors. It’s also a wonderful anti-aging product in that it reduces the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots.
While you can definitely get your vitamin C from products you apply topically, you can also get it from certain foods like oranges, grapefruit, kiwi, spinach, and potatoes.
How to Use Retinol and Vitamin C Together
As we mentioned above, using retinol and vitamin C together, at the same time, can cause irritation. But that’s not the only reason. Retinol and vitamin C each operate best at different pH levels, which are the acid-alkaline ratios of a substance. Layering retinol and vitamin C will make their pH levels go haywire, and therefore, cause each to be less effective when applied to the skin.
That said, there are actually a few different ways to use retinol and vitamin C together effectively, the key being that you space them out in time. The easiest way to do that is to use one at night and one in the morning. We recommend using vitamin C in the morning in order to take advantage of its ability to brighten the skin and to protect it from sun exposure.
Of course, the key to making sure it works most effectively is to use it in the right order in terms of your skin care routine. Here’s how to make sure you’re doing that.
Step 1: Start with a gentle, non-drying cleanser that won’t irritate the skin.
Step 2: Refresh and hydrate with an equally gentle, soothing toner.
Step 3: Apply a vitamin C serum like our Nectar of the C natural vitamin C serum. Ours has a 10% concentration of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which gives it stability and is less likely to irritate skin than a stronger form of vitamin C, like L-ascorbic acid. This serum will give your skin a glow; and, over time, it will help reduce the appearance of dark spots and help even out skin tone. Made for all skin types, it also contains vitamin E and hyaluronic acid hydrate the skin.
Step 4: Moisturize afterwards with a brightening moisturizer, like our Crème de la Cream, to protect and nourish your skin.
Repeat steps 1 & 2.
Step 3: Apply a retinol serum, such as ‘A’ Game. Created to be ideal for beginner retinol users, we combined 0.1% retinol with nourishing botanicals like rosehip oil, squalane and vitamin E to effectively smooth your skin and reduce signs of aging.
Step 4: Moisturize with a night cream. Youth Fairy retinol moisturizer is ideal for restoring your skin while you sleep.
It’s important to note that when you are first incorporating retinol into your routine, you should start with applying only every other day, or as the label instructions. Allow your skin time to adjust before applying every evening.
This isn’t the only way you can use retinol and vitamin C together. You can use each every other day, or even start out using retinol every third day while your skin adjusts to it.
Keep in mind, everyone’s skin is different--not everyone is going to experience irritation if they use retinol and vitamin C together. It’s entirely possible they won’t experience any irritation at all. It’s just that generally speaking, in order to avoid irritation, this is a good approach.
Go ahead– get the complexion you’ve always wanted by incorporating both of these powerhouse antioxidants into your skincare routine.