A Guide to Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix

A Guide to Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Mix

The Ultimate Guide to Skincare Ingredients that Should Never be Mixed


When combined, some skincare ingredients can cause redness, irritation, inflammation, and dryness, but without the right knowledge, it can be hard to tell what not to mix. This article will be your ultimate guide to the skincare ingredients you should never mix, so you can form a more effective and safer skincare routine.



Never Mix Products with the Same Active Ingredients

As a general rule, you should never mix skincare products with the same active ingredients for a few reasons. Sometimes, products with the same actives will cancel each other out or disturb the formulation and pH, rendering the products useless.

However, it’s important to remember that skincare manufacturers design products with specific concentrations and ratios to make the ingredients safe to use and protect your skin. By mixing the same ingredients, you may end up increasing an ingredient’s concentration and irritating your skin.

What Not to Mix with: Retinol

You should never mix AHAs, BHAs, benzoyl peroxide, and vitamin C with retinol. Retinol works by removing dead skin cells, resulting in sensitive skin. Ingredients like the ones listed above do the same thing, causing already sensitive skin to become irritated.

Think about it like this—while you want to remove dead skin cells, that layer of dead skin protects the sensitive, newer skin cells underneath. If you peel back that protective layer with retinol, the other products are essentially “attacking” those new, healthy, sensitive cells. If you want to use some of these ingredients together, like retinol and vitamin C, layering your products in the right order is essential to avoid irritation. In this example, you would apply vitamin C during the day and retinol at night.

What Not to Mix with: Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an acid, and an unstable one at that, so mixing it with the wrong ingredients can disturb the pH, making the product ineffective. Vitamin C shouldn’t mix with AHAs, BHAs, retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and niacinamide. Mixing vitamin C with AHAs, BHAs, and retinol can lead to skin peeling and redness. But mix it with benzoyl peroxide or niacinamide, and they’ll cancel each other out, making them much less effective.

What Not to Mix with: Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide is a popular acne-fighting ingredient, typically used in spot treatments. Ingredients like retinol, tretinoin, vitamin C, and vitamin C are all unstable and degrade when used with products that generate oxidation, like benzoyl peroxide. If you can’t part with these ingredients, you can use one during the day or one at night, use them on alternating days, or use benzoyl peroxide as a cleanser, as it will stop working once you rinse it off.

Now that you know a little more about what skincare ingredients you shouldn’t mix, you can confidently form your skincare routine! Just remember to always test new products before applying them to your face, and you’re ready to navigate the world of skincare like a pro.


Photo – Ron Lach

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