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 either vitamin C, retinol, or hyaluronic acid to help keep your skin looking its best. These popular ingredients can be found in quite a few skin care products, and they aren’t tacked onto formulas just for fun. Each ingredient comes with its own set of skin care benefits that make it a welcome addition to almost any skin care routine.
Of course, when ingredients are good when used individually, you have to wonder whether they would be even better when used together. We reached out to board-certified dermatologists and Skincare.com consulting experts, Dr. Erin Gilbert, Dr. Dendy Engelman and Dr. Ted Lain to find out whether or not it’s a good idea to use all three ingredients together.
HOW DO 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 on their own.
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. Serums are especially effective at harnessing all the benefits of vitamin C, explains Dr. Dendy Engelman. “A vitamin C serum will be most effective in delivering to the cellular level,” she explains. “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 actually still use retinol. This multi-tasking skin care ingredient is known to help address additional skin concerns, including acne and an uneven skin tone. “Retinol can deliver increased collagen production at prescription strength, improved tone, and even texture,” says Dr. Ted Lain (@DrTedLain). “Acne will also respond favorably to retinol use.”
Hyaluronic Acid: It seems as if in the blink of an eye, almost every moisturizing formula now 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 hydration, making it feel hydrated and look dewy.” Hyaluronic acid is a powerful moisturizing ingredient, and it’s gentle, gel-like texture can actually be used on all skin types, including sensitive. Hyaluronic acid can be found in a variety of different products from face masks to serums and moisturizers.
HOW DOES USING ALL THREE TOGETHER BENEFIT YOUR SKIN?
You can (and should!) combine all three ingredients within your routine, Dr. Gilbert says. By using vitamin C, retinol, and hyaluronic acid together, you’ll receive the benefits of all three in one skin care routine.
HOW CAN YOU USE VITAMIN C, RETINOL, AND HYALURONIC ACID TOGETHER?
Adding extra ingredients and products into your routine isn’t always easy. Thankfully we have a dermatologist’s expertise to help the determine the best way to use vitamin C, retinol, and hyaluronic acid together. Try the following regimen, which encompasses your morning and night routines:
Step #1: Cleanse to start the day
You may be thinking every routine starts the same way, and you’d be right. No matter which ingredients you plan to pair together, you need to start with a clean face. However, you can’t just pick up any ol’ cleanser and hope for the best. Do your due diligence and make sure that you reach for a cleanser that’s formulated for your specific skin type. Begin your search for your ideal cleanser by following our guide to the best cleansers for every skin type, here!
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. As an added bonus, it’s paraben-, fragrance-, and silicone-free.
Vichy LIftActiv Vitamin C Serum, $28.50 MSRP
Step #3: Follow with hyaluronic acid serum
Once you’ve given your vitamin C serum a moment or two to sink in, you’re free to move on to layering hyaluronic acid—or a least a hyaluronic acid serum—overtop. Vichy Mineral 89, which contains Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water in addition to hyaluronic acid, is one of our favorites. The formula not only locks in moisture but can also help protect your skin against daily aggressors. Double win.
Vichy Mineral 89, $29.50 MSRP
Step #4: Cleanse again at night
Hopefully you already know the drill, before heading to bed it’s time to wash your face again, even if you’re not wearing any makeup. This is because your skin is exposed to aggressors like microscopic dirt and pollution particles over the course of the day. When these particles mix with bacteria on your skin, they can clog your pores and lead to subsequent breakouts. By removing dirt and impurities before they have a chance to wreak havoc, you can help ensure your skin looks and feels its best. In order to rid your skin of dirt, makeup and debris, we recommend using a micellar water. Micellar waters boast gentle micelles which cluster together to effectively whisk away stubborn makeup and dirt in one fell swoop without harsh rubbing, scrubbing, or rinsing.
Step #5: Use retinol
Retinol isn’t just for those with problematic skin. Anyone can use a retinol; the key is to start slow and work your way up. Start with the Vichy LiftActiv Retinol Treatment just three nights a week. You can increase frequency overtime if needed. No matter how often you’re using retinol, be sure you’re applying it to clean, dry skin. Since retinol can cause skin sensitivity to sunlight, it’s better to apply it at night and follow with broad-spectrum sunscreen and additional sun protection measures during daytime hours. This can include wearing protective clothing, seeking shade, and avoiding peak sun hours when rays are strongest.
Vichy LIftActiv Retinol Treatment, $45 MSRP
Step #6: Moisturize
Anyone with experience using with retinol will know the multi-tasking ingredient can be seriously drying. While gradually building up to a higher frequency can reduce how dry your skin becomes, it’s still an absolute necessity to moisturize afterwards. As we mentioned before, you should always be using the right product for your skin type. While dry skin types may need a heavier nighttime moisturizer, those with oily skin can opt for a formula that’s more lightweight. Not sure which moisturizer would be ideal for you? Take our simple moisturizer quiz to find out!