What Skincare Ingredients Should You Not Layer Together?

What Skincare Ingredients Should You Not Layer Together

Whether you’re a skincare newbie or expanding your regime, it can be tricky to know which skincare actives work harmoniously together, and which ones are a no-go. After all, the goal is beautiful, healthy-looking skin, so it’s essential to make sure your products are a good match.

Check out our ultimate skincare ingredient checker and discover which skincare products should not be mixed, and which ones will help your skin to thrive!

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What Skincare Actives to Not Mix

With skincare actives present in nearly every step of your routine, from cleanser to moisturizer, it’s crucial to understand which ingredients may be counteracting the efforts of your other products.

It can seem like a minefield, which is why at Revolution Skincare, we’ve got your back!

Once you’ve established how to layer your skincare, it’s time to select ingredients that target concerns and help promote a healthy-looking, radiant appearance, avoiding certain actives clashing with our simple guide:

Skincare Ingredient Checker:

Expert Tip: Many of these popular skincare ingredients can leave skin more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays. To ensure your skin is protected, complete every morning skincare routine by applying SPF!


We’ll start with one of cosmetic scientists’ fave skincare ingredients: Retinol. The only catch is that if used incorrectly, it can lead to skin irritation.

The benefits of Retinol when used correctly include:

  • Targets acne
  • Improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation
  • Smooths uneven texture

What can you mix with Retinol?

Hyaluronic Acid: Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid are two skincare ingredients that can be used together. Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant ingredient which helps keeps the skin moisturized. Since Retinol’s powerful anti-aging properties can lead to dryness, it’s important to top up with a hydrating ingredient to avoid any adverse effects.

What not to mix with Retinol:

Vitamin C: Can you use Vitamin C and Retinol together? You can use these two ingredients at opposite times of day, but not together in the same routine. This is because Retinol works to repair the skin while Vitamin C functions to protect it during the day – we recommend using Vitamin C in your morning routine, and Retinol at night.

AHAs/BHAs: Since these acids have exfoliating properties, they can be drying on the skin. Teamed with Retinol which can also dry out the skin if used incorrectly, the combination can leave skin feeling stripped of moisture and very sensitive.

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Vitamin C

There’s never a dull moment with Vitamin C around. As mentioned, due to its protective properties, Vitamin C is a great addition to your morning skincare routine.

Other benefits of Vitamin C in skincare include:

  • Boosts radiance
  • Stimulates Collagen and Elastin for plump, youthful-looking skin
  • Evens out skin tone

What can you mix with Vitamin C?

Hyaluronic Acid: The perfect combination for those with dull, dry skin. Hyaluronic Acid helps boost skin’s moisture levels with an ability to hold up to 1000x its own weight in water! It’s more than safe to use alongside Vitamin C in your routine.

What not to mix with Vitamin C:

AHAs/BHAs: AHAs help to renew the skin’s surface while BHAs get deeper into the pores to help remove dead cells and excess sebum. Since AHAs, BHAs and Vitamin C are all acidic, using all of these in your regime can leave skin feeling depleted and dehydrated.

Retinol: As mentioned, using Vitamin C and Retinol together in your routine can lead to redness, sensitivity and sometimes peeling.

Niacinamide?: More about Niacinamide further down, but since these two skincare ingredients have antioxidant properties, it has been suggested that they can cancel each other out when used together. There has also been research suggesting that the two ingredients can react together to form Nicotinic Acid, leading to skin flushing (redness).

However, the world of skincare has advanced a lot since those claims were first made. These days, cosmetic scientists utilize stabilized formulas making them much safer to use together.

We recommend using Niacinamide and Vitamin C in alternate skincare routines.

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Niacinamide (or Vitamin B3) is a popular skincare ingredient that’s renowned for its pore-refining properties. Other reasons to use Niacinamide include:

  • Helps reduce breakouts
  • Balances sebum
  • Minimizes the appearance of pores
  • Calms redness and hyperpigmentation

What can you mix with Niacinamide?

(Almost) Everything: Niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory, meaning it’s rare for skin to become irritated by using it. This also means that it can fit seamlessly into a routine that contains other skincare ingredients.

What not to mix with Niacinamide:

Vitamin C?: As mentioned above, there is still much debate around using Vitamin C and Niacinamide together. If you’re unsure about the effects of mixing these popular skincare ingredients, we recommend using Vitamin C in the morning and Niacinamide at night.

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Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid is often heralded as the saviour of dry skin. As a humectant, Hyaluronic Acid is a skincare ingredient with hygroscopic or “water-loving” properties – perfect for rehydrating the skin!

Hyaluronic Acid has many benefits for the skin:

  • Hydrates
  • Smooths skin
  • Prevents tightness
  • Boosts elasticity

What can you mix with Hyaluronic Acid?

Everything!: Hyaluronic Acid is super easy to include in your skincare routine. Since it’s a hydrating ingredient, it works in harmony with other actives such as Retinol and AHA/BHAs that can dry out the skin.

Whether you include it within your cleansing routine or finish up with an enriched moisturizer, Hyaluronic Acid is a versatile addition to any skincare routine, particularly if you struggle with dryness or sensitivity.

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Salicylic Acid

Known for its blemish-busting power, Salicylic Acid is a BHA that penetrates deep into your pores to exfoliate both the skin’s surface and its deeper layers.

Using Salicylic Acid as a key skincare ingredient in your routine can also:

  • Calm angry breakouts
  • Reduces redness and hyperpigmentation
  • Smooths uneven skin

What can you mix with Salicylic Acid?

Niacinamide: With Salicylic Acid working as an exfoliant, it can leave the skin feeling dry. Niacinamide, like Hyaluronic Acid, contains humectant properties, meaning it helps lock water into the skin’s surface, replenishing some of that lost moisture.

Hyaluronic Acid: Similarly, we know that Hyaluronic Acid works wonders on dry skin, so combining it with Salicylic Acid, you get the deep pore cleansing action without the risk of drying out the skin.

What not to mix with Salicylic Acid:

Retinol: As Retinol and Salicylic Acid are both exfoliating, drying skincare ingredients, using both together in the same routine could lead to serious irritation.

Glycolic Acid: Similarly, as an AHA, Glycolic Acid helps exfoliate the top layer of the skin, which is too intense when used alongside Salicylic Acid.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also acidic, and too many acids in your skincare routine can lead to redness and further irritation. If you want to use both Salicylic Acid and Vitamin C in your routine, you’re better off using them in alternate regimes.

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Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is an exfoliant that many of us swear by. It penetrates the top layer of skin to help remove dead skin cells, helping to reveal bright, beautiful skin underneath.

Benefits of Glycolic Acid in your skincare routine include:

  • Helps smooth wrinkles and fine lines
  • Unclogs pores
  • Suitable for all skin types

What can you mix with Glycolic Acid?

Hyaluronic Acid: Glycolic Acid and Hyaluronic Acid work together harmoniously to unclog pores, rebalance sebum and promote collagen production, without leaving the skin feeling dry and depleted. The perfect duo for those with combination skin!

What not to mix with Glycolic Acid:

Retinol, other AHAs/BHAs, Vitamin C?: Using these ingredients alongside Glycolic Acid in the same routine could irritate the skin. However, alternating them between your morning and evening skincare routine means that you can enjoy the benefits without the risk of damaging your skin.

Niacinamide: While you can technically use Niacinamide and Glycolic Acid together, you may not need to. They provide very similar benefits to the skin and layering both in the same routine won’t necessarily speed up the effects. Again, if you want to try both ingredients, use them at different times of the day.

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Revolution Beauty

Revolution Beauty

Writer and expert