If you’re a skincare enthusiast, you’ve probably heard that mixing glycolic acid and vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid) in your routine can be a recipe for disaster1.
Some say that these two powerful ingredients should never be used together, but is that really the case?
The truth is that using vitamin c and glycolic acid together in skin care routine is possible and can actually be incredibly beneficial for your skin.
When used together in a skincare routine, one major benefit is that they can work synergistically to brighten and even out skin tone.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots, while glycolic acid exfoliates the skin’s surface and promotes cell turnover, which can also improve skin texture and tone.
Together, they can enhance each other’s effectiveness, providing a more radiant and youthful complexion.
So, can you use glycolic acid with vitamin C? While the combination of vitamin C and glycolic acid can be a game-changer for your skin, there are crucial precautions to take before diving into the trend.
Ignoring these tips can lead to some serious skin issues, so stay tuned and avoid the pitfalls for a radiant and flawless complexion.
Can I Use Glycolic Acid And Vitamin C Together?
Glycolic acid and vitamin C are two popular skincare ingredients2 that can transform your skin, but can they be used together? Technically, yes. But here’s the catch: you may get better results by using them separately.
The pH levels of glycolic acid and vitamin C are similar3 enough to be absorbed by the skin effectively at the same time.
However, glycolic acid is the smallest of all alpha hydroxy acids, meaning it penetrates deeper into the skin than L-ascorbic acid.
Moreover, both are acidic and have the potential to cause irritation and redness.
If you want to get the best of both ingredients but avoid potential negative effects, it’s better to use them at different times. For example, one in the morning, and the other at night.
Can I Use Vitamin C Serum After AHA BHA Toner?
The timing of application can also affect the effectiveness of powerhouse skincare products.
While vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that brightens and protects the skin, using it immediately after an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) or beta hydroxy acid (BHA) exfoliant may alter its pH level and, in turn, reduce its benefits.
Let’s break it down. AHAs and BHAs are exfoliants that work wonders for removing dead skin cells and revealing a smoother, more radiant complexion.
However, they typically have a lower pH level than vitamin C serum, making them more acidic. If you apply a vitamin C serum immediately after the AHA BHA toner, the pH level of the skin may become too low for the vitamin C to work effectively.
This is where the importance of timing comes into play. By waiting at least a few minutes before you apply vitamin C serum, you give your skin time to naturally return to its optimal pH level.
Can I Use Glycolic Acid And Vitamin C At The Same Time?
So why is it that technically, you can use glycolic acid and vitamin C together, but it’s generally recommended to use them separately for better results and to avoid irritation?
The main reason for this is that the optimal pH range of vitamin C is around 3.5 or lower, while glycolic acid has a pH range of 3.0 to 4.0. When used together, one can effect the pH level of the other, which decreases the positive effect of either active ingredient.
Dr. Wee, a dermatologist, notes that vitamin C and hydroxy acids like glycolic acid can be combined in some cosmetic formulations designed for them to maintain their efficacy in similar acidic pH ranges4.
However, she still prefers to keep them in separate products and use them at different times of the day to avoid potential irritation, especially with hydroxy acids which can sensitize the skin to sunlight.
Using them at different times of the day can help maximize your chance of getting a healthy glow.
To sum it up, from chemical perspective, it is safe to use glycolic acid and vitamin C together, as they are compatible (in terms of pH), but the result will be quicker and better if you use them separately.
How To Use Glycolic Acid And Vitamin C Together?
Glycolic acid and vitamin C are two skincare ingredients that can truly work wonders when used correctly.
Here are some effective and safe ways to combine them for maximum benefits5:
- The same day, different times
Try using glycolic acid in the morning and vitamin C in the evening, or vice versa. Allow the skin to adjust to each ingredient and reduce the risk of irritation.
- The same skincare routine, with a pause in between
Layer glycolic acid first and then apply vitamin C serum after at least 15-minute wait time6. Waiting for your skin’s pH levels to rebalance can help prevent irritation and other negative effects.
Here’s an example of how to use both glycolic acid and vitamin C safely at the same time:
- Cleanse your face as usual.
- Apply toner or glycolic acid serum.
- Wait 15 minutes (or more, depending on your skin sensitivity)
- Use a serum containing vitamin C to help brighten and even out your complexion.
- Follow up with an eye cream to nourish the delicate skin around your eyes.
- Apply a moisturizer to help lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated.
- Don’t forget to finish off with SPF to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
The layering approach as part of a skincare routine may not be the best way for those with sensitive skin.
Over-use of chemical exfoliants can damage skin’s natural protective barrier. Be sure to pay attention to how your skin reacts.
- Alternate days
You can alternate glycolic acid and vitamin C on different days to avoid over-exfoliation and reduce the risk of irritation.
For example, use glycolic acid on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and vitamin C on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
Safety Tips For Combining Glycolic Acid And Vitamin C
Here are some safety tips to remember when using glycolic acid and vitamin C together:
- Patch test new products before applying them to your face.
- Start with a low concentration of each ingredient and gradually increase as your skin adjusts.
- Do not use glycolic acid and vitamin C together if you have active breakouts or open wounds on your skin.
- Always use sunscreen when using these ingredients as they can increase sun sensitivity.
- If you have sensitive skin or are new to using these ingredients, start by using them separately and gradually introduce them into your routine.
How Does Vitamin C Benefit Your Skin?
Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, wound healing, and maintaining a healthy immune system.
As a powerful antioxidant, it protects the skin from free radical damage caused by UV radiation and pollution, and stimulates collagen production, resulting in smoother, brighter, and more youthful-looking skin7.
- Protects from sun damage
It helps protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays by neutralizing free radicals generated when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
- Prevents aging
It prevents skin aging caused by UV radiation by reducing inflammation, preventing collagen breakdown, and neutralizing reactive oxygen species.
- Promotes collagen production
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen synthesis, which is essential for maintaining healthy skin. It helps stabilize and cross-link collagen molecules, activates and regulates collagen synthesis.
- Brightens skin
It helps brighten your skin by inhibiting the enzyme tyrosinase, which decreases melanin production, resulting in a more even skin tone.
- Reduces sun damage
Vitamin C can help reduce the signs of photodamage on your skin, such as wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, by stimulating collagen production and reducing inflammation.
- Prevents skin cancer
Vitamin C, especially when combined with Vitamin E and ferulic acid, can help prevent skin cancer by reducing the harmful effects of UV radiation on your skin.
How Does Glycolic Acid Benefit For Your Skin?
Glycolic acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) known to help achieve brighter, smoother complexion. It also helps fight acne and aging.
Here’s more on why it’s another superstar in the world of skincare8.
- Exfoliates skin
Glycolic acid breaks down the bonds between dead skin to exfoliate it away, promoting a brighter and smoother complexion.
- Stimulates collagen production
It helps to increase collagen production, which can lead to firmer and more youthful-looking skin.
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
By stimulating collagen production, glycolic acid can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Improves hyperpigmentation
It can help to fade dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation by promoting cell turnover and skin renewal.
- Reduces acne
Glycolic acid can unclog pores and prevent breakouts by removing dead skin cells and excess oil from the skin’s surface.
- Enhances skin texture
It improves skin texture by removing dead skin cells and revealing smoother, softer skin.
Why You Should Combine Glycolic Acid And Vitamin C
Combining these two powerhouse ingredients can be a game-changer. They can work together to give you brighter, smoother, and more youthful-looking skin.
Vitamin C protects against harmful UV rays and free radicals while glycolic acid exfoliates and stimulates collagen production. So if you have dull, congested, or acne-prone skin, this combination is especially beneficial for you.
Potential Risks & Side Effects Of Using Vitamin C With Glycolic Acid
One potential risk of using L-ascorbic acid in combination with glycolic acid, even if used separately, is skin irritation and sensitivity.
This can happen because both ingredients are exfoliating agents that can disrupt the skin’s natural moisture barrier and lead to dryness, redness, and flakiness. Using them together or in high concentrations can intensify this effect.
Additionally, using glycolic acid during the day can increase sun sensitivity, making the skin more prone to damage from UV rays. This can also happen if vitamin C is used during the day without proper sun protection.
What Should You Not Mix With Glycolic Acid?
Here are a few ingredients to watch out for when using glycolic acid:
While both are great for exfoliation, combining them can be a bit too much for some skin types, leading to dryness, irritation, and peeling.
- Benzoyl peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide has drying and exfoliating properties which can be too depending on your skin skin type, especially if you are prone to dryness and irritation.
- Other exfoliants
Using glycolic acid with other exfoliants, like scrubs or peels, can be too harsh for the skin and cause irritation, sensitivity, and even scar formation.
What Should You Not Mix With Vitamin C?
Remember, it’s important to give your skin some TLC and know which ingredients to mix and match for the best results.
Here’s a list of ingredients that you should avoid mixing with Vitamin C9 – because while it’s a superstar on its own, it doesn’t always play well with others:
- Benzoyl peroxide
Using Vitamin C with benzoyl peroxide can cause excessive dryness and irritation, and may even make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
Combining Vitamin C with retinol is a bit tricky, as it can cause skin irritation, redness, and peeling. If you want to use both, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes between them, or even better – apply one in the morning and the other at night.
Wrap Up: Can You Use Glycolic Acid With Vitamin C In Your Skincare Routine?
Incorporating both glycolic acid and L-ascorbic acid into your skincare routine can provide an unparalleled level of exfoliation, brightening, and rejuvenation to your skin.
Glycolic acid, a powerful alpha-hydroxy acid, works to remove dead skin cells, unclog pores, and stimulate collagen production.
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid has a potent antioxidant to protect the skin from free radicals and help brighten and even out skin tone.
Together, these ingredients work in harmony to give you a youthful, radiant complexion that’s truly worth the effort.
If you were ever wondering “Can I use glycolic acid and vitamin C?”, there are some precautions to take.
By following the safety tips that I shared here, you can achieve healthy, glowing skin in a safe and effective way.
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