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Retinol and vitamin C are deeply beneficial ingredients for skin – so it’s understandable that we’d want to include both of them in our skincare regimes. The benefits of these nutrients however reflect their potency, so combining a vitamin C serum and retinol formula does require some forethought and planning.

Can You Use Retinol and Vitamin C Together ?

Some ingredients like panthenol and hyaluronic acid pair well with all other skincare products. These hydrating formulas are especially supportive of powerful ingredients like vitamin A and vitamin C, as they maintain moisture content and skin barrier strength while the benefits are coming into effect.

While potent combinations might need more consideration, it is possible and can result in brighter and more refined skin. Ahead, we show when to use retinol and vitamin C successfully and answer common queries around the two ingredients.

A deeper look at retinol and vitamin C

Retinol and Vitamin C have more in common than you might think. Both are vitamins and both are antioxidants, and each ingredient is highly effective at improving skin concerns. To understand how to use retinol and vitamin C, it’s helpful to see the differences between them.

Retinol vs vitamin C

  • Retinol (or vitamin A) works by accelerating the skin cell cycle. When implemented in a routine it helps to shed dead skin cells and bring newer, fresher skin to the surface. It encourages collagen production in skin and refines texture, minimising pores along the way. Retinol improves signs of ageing, reduces breakouts and excess oil-flow, and brightens dulled skin.

  • Vitamin C is a protective ingredient. This antioxidant is great at stabilising free radical damage, like oxidative stress from UV radiation. When applied topically to skin it can reduce discolouration across skin tone, brighten skin and prevent further effects from UV rays. It also promotes collagen and hydrates the skin.

  • Can you use vitamin C with retinol?

    The collaborative efforts of these two ingredients can benefit each other – but it does depend on your skin type. Because vitamin A and vitamin C are both potent, those with highly sensitive skin may want to elect just one for use. The separate benefits of each can be appealing, especially in Australia. To renew skin through retinol and protect it against sun exposure through vitamin C, use each product at different times of the day.

    So, how to use retinol and vitamin C? To avoid discomfort in skin, we recommend using retinol and vitamin C morning or night – separating them between those routines. When to apply each formula is an easy decision. As retinol sensitises skin to UV radiation, it should be included in your evening routine. Vitamin C on the other hand assists sunscreen in protecting skin against UV, so apply it in morning routines for added resilience.

    Can You Use Retinol and Vitamin C Together ?

    When to use retinol and vitamin C in routines

    Each skincare routine is unique, but there are basic layering steps when it comes to a vitamin C serum and retinol cream or serum. See how to use retinol and vitamin C in your routine.

    1. Cleanse

    Both ingredients require access to purified skin in order to work effectively. Before using either retinol or vitamin C, remove impurities like oil, sweat, dirt and debris with a cleanser matched to your skin type. To help reduce the drying effects of retinol, you might like to opt for a nourishing formula like Ultra Facial Cleanser at night. In the morning, an invigorating cleanser like Cucumber Herbal Conditioning Cleanser can be paired with vitamin C to start the day.

    2. Retinol vs vitamin C serum

    As discussed, whether to use vitamin C or retinol first depends on the time of day. For morning routines, your vitamin C serum will be implemented now. Onto freshly cleansed skin, apply a potent formula like Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate. The combination of 12.5% vitamin C, vitamin Cg and hyaluronic acid boosts skin, refines texture and deeply hydrates. With consistent use, fine lines and wrinkles visibly diminish over time.

    In your evening routine, apply a retinol serum or cream at this point. Retinol Skin Renewing Daily Micro-Dose Serum is potent but gentle enough for nightly use. Retinol is combined with peptides and ceramides to promote tolerance and skin barrier strength while imparting anti-ageing and brightening benefits.

    3. Moisturise

    Moisturisers help to hydrate skin, and they also act as a sealant to keep potent serums within the skin. In the morning and after your vitamin C application, use an ultra-lightweight but nourishing formula like Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane. At night, your moisturiser will usually have a thicker texture. If dry skin is of concern, we recommend placing your retinol serum on skin between layers of moisturiser. Midnight Recovery Omega Rich Cloud Cream nourishes and supports skin for radiant results in the morning.

    Loved this guide? Read on to uncover the truth about vitamin C in skincare.


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