Frequent Contributor
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎03-14-2010

I am currently using a vitamin c serum in the morning and a retinol serum at night. I would like to incorporate an AHA product. When would be the best time to do that? Is it okay to combine AHA with either retinol or vitamin C? I don't want to reduce the efficacy of any of the 3 products. Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

Super Contributor
Posts: 600
Registered: ‎06-24-2014

From CailinH in the "C0cktailing skin care" thread just a bit ago:

Don’t mix vitamin C with:

1. Alphahydroxy Acids (AHAs): Overloading your skin with too many acid based-ingredients (both vitamin C and AHAs are acid-based) increases your chances of redness, peeling and irritation. “Some AHAs even come with instructions to wash it off after a certain amount of time so that the skin can accommodate and tolerate it,” says Miami dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, MD.

2. Copper Peptides: Copper peptides help to encourage elastin and collagen formation, making it necessary for wound healing. But when used with vitamin C, the effects of each are cancelled out, rendering the benefits useless.

3. Retinol: Many experts will say that super-strength concentrations of vitamin C and retinol shouldn’t be applied to the skin together, or only with extreme caution, since both are very powerful and can cause the skin to become dry. However, there are some topical products that contain both ingredients, but chances are they contain low concentrations of each, making them safe to use.

Don’t mix retinol with...

1. Benzoyl Peroxide: Retinol and benzoyl peroxide can ward off acne and prevent the formation of new blemishes, but when used simultaneously, they can counteract each other’s benefits. “Both are drying, exfoliating, peeling agents, and when they’re mixed together, they can cause excessive peeling, unwanted pigment, lasting redness and even blistering and scarring”.

2. AHAs: Both retinol and AHAs can help to generate new collagen, but be careful when using them together. “It’s okay to use both as long as you are not too sensitive to the combination,” says Dr. Ciraldo. “Most women with sensitive skin need to alternate, applying the AHA in the morning and retinol at night for the first few weeks so a tolerance can be built.” If you’re using either a retinoid or AHA, it’s essential to use a daily sunscreen as well, since both cause UV sensitivity.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,188
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

In the morning, I use vitamin C serum first, then AH AHAs @ 12%. I have never had an irritation problem. Afterward moisturizer.

I use just the AH retinol ResQ at night, no moisturizer.

(But always extra eye & neck support day & night.)

I think of it this way (for myself)...that the vitamin C is mainly for antioxy purposes (but there are other benefits); the AHAs for skin turnover nudging. I am getting consistently beautiful results with this protocol.

If you haven't used AHAs before, think about using a lower strength (like PC @ 8%) and ease into a routine.

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 114
Registered: ‎03-14-2010

Thank you ladies! You have been a great help!!

Honored Contributor
Posts: 20,955
Registered: ‎10-03-2011

Good info Mandy!

Honored Contributor
Posts: 20,570
Registered: ‎06-13-2012

I use my BHA (or in you case, an AHA) first, wait awhile, and then apply my vitamin C. If you exfoliate first, it prepares your skin to better absorb and utilize the subsequent products.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 773
Registered: ‎06-25-2014

Thanks for the credit MandySays Smiley Happy

In all honesty it all comes down to your skin, and the strength of the ingredients. I would not recommend a full blown AHA with either vitamin c or retinol. However, you can use multiple products with lower dosages, to get the same (or even better, in my case) results than 1 product. Why not try a AHA cleanser and an AHA night cream with lower dosage? That way you don't overload your skin. You can of course always change products and get high %'s as your skin adjusts!