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What Skincare Ingredients Should You Not Mix?

While skincare products have passed numerous safety tests, there are still some ingredients you should avoid mixing together.
Updated: November 9, 2022
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You’ve always been told to never mix your drinks if you want to escape a stomping hangover, but did you know there are certain skincare ingredient combinations you should avoid too?

Mixing and matching have a place, but sometimes things are best left separated. Here’s what you should look out for.

Knowledge is power

Before we dive in, it’s important to say that the more you learn about the ways certain ingredients act and operate with each other, the more you’ll be able to make educated skincare choices that will benefit you. It’s also crucial to state that none of these combinations will severely hurt you, as thankfully skincare products undergo thorough testing to ensure they are safe. However everyone is different, and if you’re worried about having reactions or side effects, you should take the time to read on.

Here are some ingredient mixes you should stay away from.

Mix #1 – Vitamin C & AHAs

Vitamin C is one of the best things you can gift your skin and body, but when mixed with AHAs, you could experience some problems. This is because both of these ingredients are acids and it’s best not to use too much acid at one time. AHAs are potent acids made from sugary fruits that work to wipe away surface skin cells so new cells can grow. Mixing these with Vitamin C-heavy products can cause irritation on your skin. We’d recommend using one product in the morning and using the other at night to avoid any conflict.

Mix #2 – Vitamin C & Retinol

Retinol is one of the most popular ingredients in skincare and is used in anti-aging products to reduce the prominence of lines and wrinkles. It does this by stimulating the skin to produce collagen and new red blood vessels. Guess what also makes collagen – that’s right, Vitamin C. Hence using these two products together will cause a bit of a clash. Again, space out the usage from the morning to the evening.

Mix #3 – Retinol & Alpha AHAs

Wow, retinol sure gets around doesn’t she! You know what retinol is used for, so what are alpha AHAs? Also known as alpha hydroxy acids, they do a similar job to retinol and act as a powerful exfoliator. Once again, they work to remove dead skin cells from the surface of your face to allow new skin to grow in its place. Unfortunately, using Alpha AHAs in combination with retinol can make your skin a little too sensitive and may make it more vulnerable to sun damage. Always make sure you are using these products separately to stay safe.

Final word

Mixing any of these ingredients together won’t result in a death sentence, let’s not be dramatic. However, nobody wants to experience unnecessary irritation or inflammation. You should always take good care of your skin and avoid as much damage, however little, as possible.

We hope you’ve gained some extra confidence to make better ingredient decisions. Good luck.

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.