Popular Skin Care Ingredients You Should Never Use Together

Rachel Krause


We’ll argue that skin care is the most important part of any beauty routine, but unless you have a degree in chemistry, it can be tough to tell which combos work well together and which will do more harm than good. When you’re using potent, high-powered ingredients like those found in many anti-aging and acne-fighting products alike, it can be a little risky to head into the layering game uneducated. There’s nothing to be afraid of, but it’s still worth avoiding these potentially harmful combinations.

Retinoids and Alpha Hydroxy Acids
You just can’t win with combining retinoids and alpha hydroxy acids. Both ingredients are used as anti-aging and blemish-fighting agents that work by increasing cell turnover, and they both increase the potential for skin dryness and irritation on their own, so using them simultaneously is a recipe for a total skin freakout. Not only can the combo wreak havoc on your skin’s moisture balance, but AHAs can actually deactivate the retinoid and render it totally ineffective. You can alternate between the two as you please, but it’s safe to say that layering them together is a pretty bad idea.

Retinoids and Over the Counter Acne Treatments
As with retinoids and AHAs, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acid all function in the same way: by chemically exfoliating the surface of the skin to shed dead, damaged cells. All of these ingredients have shown themselves to be wonderfully effective on various problem skin types, from uneven texture to acne and enlarged pores, but the combination of retinoids and OTC acne treatments is just so drying, and it can actually make matters worse by upsetting the skin’s balance.

Vitamin C and Copper Peptides
Antioxidant vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, and collagen-encouraging copper peptides are fabulous skin care ingredients on their own, but unfortunately, they cancel one another out when used in conjunction—the copper oxidizes the ascorbic acid and causes it to break down rapidly, which means it has no time to get the job done. Because vitamin C and copper peptides are both effective ways to fight different signs of aging, try using a vitamin C serum during the day and smoothing on a copper peptide cream at night to reap the benefits of both.

Vitamin C and AHAs
Like alpha hydroxy acid ingredients, vitamin C is acid-based, too. Loading up on acidic products and treatments can turn even the thickest skin into a red, sensitized mess, which will only serve to exacerbate existing problems because your skin just won’t know what to do with itself. Vitamin C is great for use during the day (under sunscreen, of course), so save it for your morning routine and opt for AHAs every other night.

Read more from Daily Makeover: 5 Killer Acne-Fighting Ingredients You May Not Know About