The Good and Bad of Ingredient Combos


Knocking out multiple skin issues at once can seem like a dream come true, but sometimes mixing different ingredients can actually do more harm than good. Negative impacts of bad ingredient combinations can rage from breakouts to irritation and dry skin. At the very least, the two products can reder eachother ineffective, leading to wasted products.

In a recent Pop Sugar article, the author spoke with her dermatologist to learn which ingredients should not be combined and which should.

Bad Combos

Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol. While these ingredients are both used to fight acne, they can cause irritation when layered. They can, however, be used in the same day.

Vitamin C and Alpha Hydroxy Acids. This acidity in these two ingredients can cause an irregular pH balance on the skin, rendering the products ineffective.

Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and Alpha Hydroxy Acids. The low pH produced by AHAs can cause vitamin B3 to produce nicotinic acid, which can irritate the skin. Vitamin B3 is most effective when the skin has a neutral pH balance.

Vitamin C and Retinol. Retinol is a powerful skin care product that can cause drying of the skin. Therefore, some ingredients simply do not work well with retinol and can cause skin irritation.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Retinol: As previously stated, some ingredients simply do not work well with retinol. Often times, different hydroxy acids will be used in face washes or exfoliators, and while you can use two different products with these ingredients in the same day, it is not recommended to layer one on top of the other. 

Good Combos

Retinol and Glycerin: Glycerin can help bring moisture back to the skin that is lost with retinol.

Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid. Vitamin C and ferulic acid are a good anti-aging combination.

Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid. Similar to glycerin, hyaluronic acid restores the moisture that retinol depletes.

Vitamin C and Vitamin E. These antioxidant vitamins boost each other and help fight against free radicals.

No matter what skin type you are treating, it highly recommended that you don't try out more than one product on your face at once. This way, if your skin does react in any negative way, you can find the culprit faster.

More in Ingredients