8 Skin Care Ingredients You Should Never Ever Use At The Same Time

There are skin care ingredients that work well together, like red wine and cheese, to create more effective results. For instance, the immune system-fighting properties of Vitamin C and the hydrating, skin-rejuvenating nutrients of Vitamin E, work hand in hand on your skin health.

On the other hand, some skin care ingredients are more like Coke and Mentos – they are bound to cause destruction when combined.

In the world of facial aesthetics, there’s a skin care ingredients product for almost everything. Looking for ways to reduce wrinkles and fine lines? Look for retinol. Want to brighten the skin and fade dark marks? Reach for a Vitamin C serum. Need a mild to moderate acne treatment? Go for benzoyl peroxide. Just make sure you know which ones to combine and which ones to use separately.

If you tend to use multiple products in your skincare regimen, there are skin care ingredients you should never ever layer.

Retinol + Hydroxy Acids (AHA/BHA)

Retinol is a popular topical anti-aging miracle. Hydroxy acids, likewise, are hailed for softening fine lines and stimulating skin cell turnover. While it makes sense to combine these two anti-aging ingredients together, experts warn that it could cause more harm than good.

Hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs) have exfoliating properties, while retinol is a peeling agent. They both possess irritating side effects individually, so they could cause even more damage, like dryness, irritation, and skin moisture barrier impairment, when combined.

Retinol + Vitamin C

A Retinol and Vitamin C combo is yet another recipe for redness, irritation, and peeling. Together, they could aggravate already sensitive skin and increase skin’s sensitivity to the sun.

Use them independently. The best practice is to use a Vitamin C serum in the morning since it isn’t reactive to the sunlight. Follow it with sunscreen. Then, use retinol at night, since it makes the skin more photosensitive.

Vitamin C + Hydroxy Acids (AHA/BHA)

Adding Vitamin C to your skin-care regimen doesn’t hurt – unless you layer it with hydroxy acid products like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids. Since both are made in acidic formulations, the combo can be more irritating for the skin.

Another factor is the pH levels. Vitamin C is quite a temperamental ingredient. It’s unstable, so any acids you layer it with cold destabilize the pH balance and render it useless.

Vitamin C + Niacinamide Serum

When used separately, these two serums make great treatments for scarred and blemish-prone skin. Using them together, on the other hand, calls out for skin damage.

Aside from canceling out all the great properties of vitamin C, Niacinamide may also lead to redness and acne breakouts when mixed with ascorbic acid.

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) and retinol

Whether you have sensitive skin or not, this is one combo you don’t want to mess with. Retinol is a clearly strong anti-wrinkle ingredient. Benzoyl peroxide is a potent acne treatment that works by getting the skin rid of acne-causing bacteria. Mix the two together and you’ll surely get dry, flaky, and peeling skin.

In addition, BPO also cancels out the effects of retinol, rendering this expensive anti-aging product useless.

Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) + Hydroquinone

When you combine a potent acne-treating ingredient with a strong skin-bleaching agent, you’re headed straight for a detrimental effect on your delicate skin.

Mixing benzoyl peroxide with any chemical exfoliant is another big no-no – you don’t want to over-exfoliate and result in a red, flaky mess.

Glycolic Acid + Salicylic Acid

One is an effective exfoliant while the other is a famous acne treatment. These two actives are keratolytic agents that work by getting rid of the dead cells from the skin’s outer layer. Mixing them, however, would be too harsh for your skin, especially if you have sensitive skin.

They should be used separately – or you’ll run the risk of causing a major reaction that strips your skin.

Oil-based products + Water-based products

It’s simple science: Oil and water don’t mix at all. Oil resists water, which means using a moisturizing oil-based product will leave a film on the skin, preventing water-based skin care ingredients products from absorbing.


If you want to know how to use these ingredients at the same time without leading to skin damage, it’s best to consult your dermatologist today. Skincare experts may recommend a schedule for using them. For instance, you may use one in the morning, and the other before bedtime, or use them at different times of the week.