These Skincare Ingredients Work Better When Mixed Together

skincare ingredients you can mix together - skincare ingredients that work well together

When you start using active ingredients in your skincare routine, you’re so focused on using them the right way to avoid irritating your skin. So you pay extra attention to not mix active ingredients.

On the other hand, not all active ingredients work this way. Some skincare ingredients work better when mixed and layered together.

For example, the right combination of skincare ingredients can neutralize or reduce the potentially unpleasant side effects of the active ingredients.

The right combination can give your skin a context of what you’re trying to achieve. As a result, you have yourself a very targeted and deliberate routine.

Note that this isn’t about bombarding the skin with a bunch of ingredients. It’s all about finding the right ingredients that have a default synergy between them, which translates to faster and better results.

On a side note, all active ingredients can be comfortably used together as long as you use one active during the day and the other one at night or just alternate between them.

We’ll be focusing on mixing and/or layering active ingredients in the same routine. If you’re wondering what those are, keep reading.

What to Mix with Vitamin C

Vitamin C, as an antioxidant, is a goldmine. It addresses a variety of issues like hyperpigmentation, dullness, sun damage, and fine lines.

Even though L-ascorbic acid, the pure form of it, can be sensitizing for the skin, a lot of the derivatives can be well-tolerated by most skin types. Here are the skincare ingredients you can mix with vitamin C.

what to mix with vitamin c

Vitamin C + Hyaluronic Acid

This is the gentlest combination you can try when you’re using a vitamin C product. Hyaluronic acid is incredibly compatible with other actives and doesn’t get in the way. The reason why you should use them together is because of the plumping effects of hyaluronic acid.

Sun damage not only causes dullness or dark spots but also causes dehydration. So while you’re actively fighting that with vitamin C, hyaluronic acid will increase the water content in your skin.

This will amplify the radiance-boosting effects of vitamin C, and help improve your skin barrier, which will make your skin stronger against free radical damage.

Vitamin C + Vitamin E

You’ll see that vitamin C is often paired with vitamin E. Nobody actually uses these two separately as vitamin E barely makes it alone on the shelves. So this is not a combination you do yourself. But there is a reason why it made the list.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that fends off free radicals. Any antioxidant, both the ones present in your skin and the ones you topically apply, starts depleting the second you’re exposed to the sunlight.

But here’s the thing; vitamin C recycles vitamin E. So when the two are present in the skin, there’s a regeneration of antioxidants, meaning that they stay in the skin for an extended period of time.

The point is, do not obsess about using a pure vitamin C serum. Using it with vitamin E does not reduce the benefits but gives you more powerful protection against UV damage.

Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid

Ferulic acid is an antioxidant. But compared to vitamin C and vitamin E, its antioxidant capacity is much lower. It’s unlikely that you’ll find a lot of stand-alone ferulic acid serums. Because it might not provide the level of protection you need.

However, when combined with these two vitamins, ferulic acid will enhance the antioxidant effects and provide longer-lasting protection against free radicals.

It’s also the perfect stabilizer. That’s why you’re more likely to see these 3 together. The combination, as confirmed by an article in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology (1), increases UV protection by 8-fold!

Even though the test gives specific concentrations of the antioxidants, it still suggests better UV protection when you combine them together instead of using them alone.

Vitamin C + SPF

Applying vitamin C before you apply your sunscreen is a great way to double up your protection. As we’ve established, the sun depletes the antioxidant levels of the skin.

Even though your SPF is your main protection, the presence of antioxidants will amplify the protection. While your sunscreen starts to wear off, you’ll have another protective layer against UV damage until you get a chance to reapply your sunscreen.

Plus, you’re trying to reverse sun damage with vitamin C, so why would you keep doing it by not using sunscreen?

What to Mix with Retinol

Vitamin A, both over-the-counter retinol and prescription retinoids, is one of the most effective anti-acne and anti-aging ingredients. And they’re all notorious for causing dryness and sensitivity.

By pairing retinol with other actives, you can reduce these effects significantly while boosting retinol’s effects. So these are the skincare ingredients you can mix with retinol.

what to mix with retinol

Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid

As a general rule of thumb, remember to regularly moisturize your skin when you’re using vitamin A. And that calls for skin-replenishing ingredients one of which is hyaluronic acid.

As retinol will accelerate skin turnover, the top layer of your skin will be continuously replaced. And during the period when your skin is trying to adjust to retinol, your skin barrier is somewhat disturbed and has trouble keeping water in.

Combining retinol with an excellent humectant like hyaluronic acid will help your skin have a smooth transition. However, keep this in mind. When your skin is damp, whatever you apply next is going to penetrate deeper and faster.

This increases the chances of irritation. It’s not about acids conflicting, but it’s about your skin being more permeable when wet.

So if you’re prone to sensitivity, apply your hyaluronic acid serum first and wait a couple of minutes before applying your retinol cream or serum.

Retinol + Niacinamide

Niacinamide is another multi-tasking gem that brightens, soothes, and replenishes the skin. And it’s suitable to use with retinol. However, the perfect combination would be using a retinol serum with a niacinamide cream.

Niacinamide is also helpful in improving the skin barrier and preventing transepidermal water loss. Using it with retinol will reduce the potentially drying effects of retinol.

Instead of grabbing a niacinamide serum, just use a niacinamide cream as your daily moisturizer to get rid of peeling, flakiness, and dryness.

Addressing these issues will make it easier to wear foundation when you’re using retinol. Similarly, skin-restoring ingredients like ceramides will also pair well with retinol.

What to Mix with Niacinamide

As a standalone ingredient, niacinamide does everything. At the same time, it doesn’t do anything. It needs a context to work best. It needs friends.

So depending on your skin goals, you should consider mixing it with other ingredients to better signal your skin. These are the skincare ingredients you can mix with niacinamide.

what to mix with niacinamide

Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid

For dehydration, use niacinamide serums and hyaluronic acid together. Dehydration itself is a problem, but it also can cause other problems. These include enlarged pores, excess oil production, redness, flakiness, and dullness.

So pairing the two water-based ingredients is a great way to deeply hydrate the skin and reduce the associated problems to a great extent.

You can use both of them in serum form. You can also use a hyaluronic acid serum and top it off with a niacinamide cream.

Read Next: The Best Moisturizers To Use With Retinol


  1. Lin, F. H., Lin, J. Y., Gupta, R. D., Tournas, J. A., Burch, J. A., Selim, M. A., Monteiro-Riviere, N. A., Grichnik, J. M., Zielinski, J., & Pinnell, S. R. (2005). Ferulic acid stabilizes a solution of vitamins C and E and doubles its photoprotection of skinThe Journal of investigative dermatology125(4), 826–832.
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