Actives are great. Whatever skin issue you are facing there’s at least one type of active to address it. So, naturally it is tempting to stock up and pile them on. It’s a mistake so many make and as a result, they end up compromising their skin barrier, which can be a huge pain to deal with. With actives, it really and truly pays to go slow and steady. The most important aspect of using an active, is consistency, not quantity. It can take 12 weeks or more to see results from actives for anti-aging, so it is crucial to be patient, but most of all, regimented. This means, no matter what kind of day you’re having, make sure you complete your daily skincare routine. It doesn’t matter if you’re slobbing around in your pyjamas all day – get up, get those products onto your skin and go back to that big squashy duvet and your latest Netflix binge.
Mixing and Matching
There are some general rules around which actives can go together and which should be used in separate routines (am versus pm). While there are exceptions (and some data that says mixing some of these together is actually fine), to err on the side of caution, we are going to stick with the general rule.
Retinol is the holy grail of any skincare regimen. If you’re not using any form of this Vitamin A derivative, you may wish to reconsider. (Look out for our upcoming piece on retinoids).
Safe to mix with:
Avoid mixing with:
Any chemical exfoliants – AHAs, BHAs
Avoid mixing niacinamide with Vitamin C, AHAs and BHAs. This is less because of potential irritation, and more because the acids can slightly reduce the efficacy of the niacinamide. Using Vitamin C and niacinamide together can slightly reduce the efficacy of one another, so you’re much better off using them in different parts of your routine. That said, if you still wish to use them together, go for it but apply the niacinamide first and give it about ten minutes to sink in before applying the retinol.
As already mentioned, Vitamin C isn’t great when mixed with retinoids or acids such as alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic. So what can you pair with this product? Well, hyaluronic acid is fine (it’s everyone’s friend!) as is ferulic acid (often found together with vit c in products anyway). You can also add peptides and ceramides into the same routine with your vitamin C.
What about SPF?
Trick question! SPF goes with everything because you need to be wearing it all day, every day. Of course, it doesn’t need to follow a nightly routine, but it must feature in your morning routine and be reapplied throughout the day. This is especially important if your routine includes retinol and/or regular chemical exfoliation, as these can make your skin more susceptible to the sun’s damage.