How to Combine Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid in Your Skin-Care Routine
Vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid are all popular ingredients. Chances are, at least one of them, if not all, can be found in many of the products in your skin-care routine. Each ingredient comes with its own list of benefits — from smoothing to hydrating, and even brightening — that make it a welcome addition to almost any skin-care routine.
When ingredients are this good on their own, it makes you wonder if they would be even better when used together. To find out, we reached out to board-certified dermatologists Erin Gilbert, MD, Dendy Engelman, MD, and Ted Lain, MD, to find out whether or not it’s a good idea to use all three in conjunction with each other.
How Can Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid Benefit Your Skin?
First things first, let’s review exactly why vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid are staple skin care ingredients.
Vitamin C: Besides being a key part of your favorite citrus fruits, when used in skin-care formulations, vitamin C can make a major difference in your skin tone. According to Dr. Gilbert, vitamin C has been shown to brighten the appearance of skin and help neutralize the damage from free radicals. “A vitamin C serum will be most effective in delivering to the cellular level,” says Dr. Engelman. “Serums have the highest concentration of active ingredients, and they have smaller molecules, which allows actives to penetrate further.”
Retinol: If you have any interest in skin care, chances are you know about retinol’s powerful effects on wrinkles. “Retinol causes the top layer of skin to turn over faster,” Dr. Gilbert says, “which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and gives your skin a fantastic glow.” If you’re not concerned about anti-aging yet, you can still benefit from using a retinol. This multi-tasking ingredient is known to help address additional skin concerns, including acne and uneven skin tone. “Retinol can deliver increased collagen production at prescription strength, improved tone and even texture,” says Dr. Lain. “Acne will also respond favorably to retinol use.”
Hyaluronic Acid: In the blink of an eye, it seems like almost every moisturizing formula contains hyaluronic acid — and with good reason. “Hyaluronic acid binds 1000 times its weight in water,” shares Dr. Gilbert. “It provides your skin with fabulous moisture, making it feel hydrated and look dewy.” Hyaluronic acid is gentle and can be used on all skin types, including sensitive.
How Does Using All Three Together Benefit Your Skin?
You can and should combine all three skin-care ingredients in your routine, Dr. Gilbert says. By using vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid together, you’ll receive all of the benefits detailed above.
How Can You Use Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid Together?
Adding new skin-care products and ingredients into your routine isn’t always easy. Thankfully, we have dermatologist expertise to help determine the best way to use vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid together.
Your Morning Skin-Care Routine
Step #1: Cleanse to Start the Day
No matter which ingredients you plan to pair together, you need to start with a clean face. For the best results, look for a cleanser that’s formulated for your specific skin type.
Step #2: Apply Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Gilbert suggests using a vitamin C serum straight after washing your face, as it can increase the penetration of the product to help you achieve the best results. Try the Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum, formulated with 15% pure vitamin C. This serum is designed to help ward off signs of premature aging and is paraben-, fragrance- and silicone-free.
Step #3: Follow With Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Once you’ve given your vitamin C serum a moment or two to absorb into the skin, it’s time to layer on your hyaluronic acid serum. L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum locks in moisture to replenish skin and help prevent premature signs of aging.
Your Evening Skin-Care Routine
Step #1: Cleanse at Least Once, Maybe Twice
Hopefully you already know the drill, but before heading to bed you should wash your face — even if you’re not wearing any makeup. Over the course of the day, your skin is exposed to aggressors like microscopic dirt and pollution particles. We recommend using a micellar water to effectively whisk away stubborn makeup and dirt before following up with a gel or cream cleanser for a deeper clean.
Step #2: Use Retinol
Retinol isn’t just for those with problematic or mature skin — anyone can use a retinol. The key is to start slow and work your way up so you don’t cause any skin irritation. Start by using SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3 just three nights a week and increase frequency over time, if needed. No matter how often you’re using retinol, be sure you’re applying it to clean, dry skin. Because retinol can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight, it’s better to apply it at night and follow with broad-spectrum sunscreen, in addition to taking additional sun protection measures, during the day.
Step #3: Moisturize
Retinol can be extremely drying. While gradually building up to a higher frequency can reduce how dry your skin becomes over time, it’s still an absolute necessity to moisturize afterwards. While dry skin types may need a heavier nighttime moisturizer, those with oily skin can opt for a formula that’s more lightweight.