How to Combine Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid in Your Skincare Routine

February 06, 2023
Victoria Moorhouse
By: Victoria Moorhouse | by L'Oréal
person holding serum dropper and distributing product onto the palm of their hand

Unless your skincare routine doesn’t go beyond using the most basic cleanser and moisturizer, 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 skincare products and offer compelling complexion benefits. To find out how to use them together, we consulted with board-certified dermatologists and consultants Dr. Erin Gilbert, Dr. Dendy Engelman, and Dr. Ted Lain.

How Can Vitamin C, Retinol and Hyaluronic Acid Benefit Your Skin?

Vitamin C

When used in skincare 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 these actives to penetrate further.”


Retinol is a key anti-aging ingredient. “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,” says Dr. Gilbert. If you’re not concerned about anti-aging yet, you can still benefit from using a retinol. This multitasking 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 skincare scene, and for good reason. “Hyaluronic acid binds 1,000 times its weight in water,” says 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 Ingredients Together Benefit Your Skin?

You can — and should — combine all three skincare 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 skincare products and ingredients into your routine isn’t always easy. Thankfully, our experts weighed in on best practices. Below, find dermatologist-recommended morning and evening skincare routines. 

Your Morning Skincare Routine


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.

Apply a 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, which helps protect the skin from discoloration caused by pollution and has been shown to visibly increase radiance in 10 days. 

Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum

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. The 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.

 L'Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Don’t Forget Sunscreen

Your morning skincare routine isn’t complete without sunscreen. After your serums have fully absorbed into your skin, follow up with a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher before you begin your makeup routine. No matter how good your skincare regimen is, wearing sunscreen is your best defense against premature signs of aging. We recommend the CeraVe Hydrating Sunscreen, a tinted formula that’s infused with ceramides and niacinamide. 

Your Evening Skincare Routine

Double Cleanse 

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 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.

Use Retinol

Retinol isn’t just for those with acne-prone 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 once or twice 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. If you’re new to retinol, you may consider incorporating a retinol-infused moisturizer into your routine like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Retinol Pressed Night Cream. This formula also contains niacinamide which works to soothe the skin and combat drying effects of retinol.

SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3


Retinol can be 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. One of our favorite rich, hydrating face creams that doesn’t feel greasy on the skin is the Lancôme Advanced Génefique Night Cream

Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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