How to Combine Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid in Your Skin-Care Routine
Unless your skin-care routine doesn’t go beyond using the most basic cleanser and moisturizer (in which case, sounds like it’s time for an upgrade), there’s already a strong possibility that you’re using vitamin C, retinol and/or hyaluronic acid to help keep your skin looking its best. These popular ingredients can be found in loads of few skin-care products — and they aren’t tacked onto formulas just for fun. Each ingredient has its own set of skin-care benefits that make it a welcome addition to almost any skin-care routine.
When ingredients are this effective on their own, it makes you wonder how they can benefit your skin when used together. We consulted with board-certified dermatologists and Skincare.com consultants Erin Gilbert, MD, Dendy Engelman, MD, and Ted Lain, MD, to find out whether it’s a good idea to use all three in conjunction.
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 must-have skin-care ingredients.
Vitamin C: When used in skin-care formulations, vitamin C can make a major difference in your skin tone and hyperpigmentation. 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: Retinol is a key anti-aging ingredient. Dr. Gilbert says, “Retinol causes the top layer of skin to turn over faster, 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 also addresses acne and uneven skin tone. “Retinol can deliver increased collagen production at prescription strength, improve tone and even skin’s texture,” adds Dr. Lain.
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid is a star in the skin-care scene, and for good reason. “Hyaluronic acid binds 1,000 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. That being said, introducing new skin-care products and ingredients into your routine isn’t always easy. Thankfully, our experts weighed in on best practices. Below, find a dermatologist-recommended morning and evening skin-care routine.
Your Morning Skin-Care Routine
Morning Skin-Care Step #1: Cleanse
No matter which ingredients you plan to pair together, you need to start with a freshly cleansed face. For the best results, look for a cleanser that’s formulated for your specific skin type.
Morning Skin-Care Step #2: Apply Vitamin C Serum
Dr. Gilbert suggests using a vitamin C serum immediately 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.
Morning Skin-Care 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.
Morning Skin-Care Step #4: Don’t Forget Sunscreen
Your morning skin-care routine isn’t complete without sunscreen. After your serums have fully absorbed into your skin, follow up with a broad-spectrum SPF of 15 or higher before you begin your makeup routine. No matter how good your skin-care regimen is, wearing sunscreen is your best defense against premature signs of aging. We recommend the CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen.
Your Evening Skin-Care Routine
Evening Skin-Care Step #1: Cleanse Not Once, But Twice
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, like the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water, to effectively whisk away stubborn makeup and dirt before following up with a gel or cream cleanser for a deeper clean.
Evening Skin-Care 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 skin irritation. If you’re new to the ingredient, 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 during the day.
Evening Skin-Care Step #3: Moisturize
Retinol can be extremely drying. While gradually building up to a higher frequency and potency 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. We like the IT Cosmetics Confidence in Your Beauty Sleep Night Cream if you’re looking for a rich option.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn