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Can You Use Vitamin C And Retinol Together?

Can You Use Vitamin C And Retinol Together?

The short answer is yes, but not at the same time.

When it comes to getting the full benefits of your vitamin c and retinol products, it’s not as simple as mixing your products together or applying one straight after the other. If you don’t use your products correctly, you could end up making your skin concerns worse; not to mention wasting both your time and your money.

So, what about using retinol and vitamin c together?

Retinol is renowned for its ability to combat acne, which is why it is often prescribed as an OTC (over the counter) medication. When combined, retinol and vitamin C are two of the most powerful skincare ingredients to combat wrinkles, fade dark spots, hyperpigmentation and build collagen. But how do you make sure that you are using them both properly?

Let’s take a look at how both of these skin-loving ingredients work…

How does retinol work?

Everyone has heard of the cult-favourite skincare ingredient, retinol and there’s no surprise why - it’s deemed to be one of the most effective topical treatments available on the market.

Retinol works by rapidly increasing the cell turnover in your skin to make way for new cell growth. This stimulates collagen and elastin production in your skin, which helps create the appearance of plumper, firmer skin - whilst saying ‘hello!’ to a more even skin tone.

This impressive ingredient can also treat pigmentation and smooth the surface of the skin, plus help with cystic acne and blemishes.

One of the many benefits of retinol is that it only takes a matter of weeks to see the results. When you introduce it to your skincare routine, and keep up consistent use, you can start to see results in just a few weeks.

Top Tip: When using retinol, make sure you build up a tolerance and gradually add it to your skincare regime in order to get the best results

How does vitamin C work?

Many dermatologists agree that using a vitamin C serum is the most effective way of getting your vitamin C fix. This antioxidant, skin-loving product is amazing at getting to work on dull skin and hyperpigmentation (the darker spots left on your skin after a spot has dried up).

So, how does it work? Well, the acidic properties in vitamin C treatments help to get rid of dead cells that lie on the surface of the skin, revealing a brighter and smoother layer of skin.

You'll also notice that most vitamin C serums will come in a dark or coloured bottle. Rather than just a nice design feature; the dark bottle is actually intentional. Vitamin C breaks down when it's exposed to light or air, so dark glass bottles help maintain its stability (and therefore, keeps it working at its best for longer). So be sure to keep your bottle out of sunlight to ensure it’s still able to work its magic!

Top Tip: As a general rule, serums should be layered underneath your moisturiser, as part of your skincare regime.

Can you use vitamin C with retinol?

So, now that we know how great retinol and vitamin C are - the big question is, can you use them together?

The reason that people might say that you cannot use vitamin C and retinol together is due to their pH levels clashing, causing them to become less effective.

pH levels measure how acidic or alkaline something is. Retinol has to have a pH between 5.0 and 6.0 in order to operate at its best. However, vitamin C needs to have a pH 3.5 or lower in order to penetrate the skin.

Therefore, if you were to use both of these products at the same time, it would lower the retinol’s pH whilst raising the pH of the vitamin C product. This would result in the retinol becoming less active and the vitamin C product will be unable to penetrate your skin effectively and work its magic.

This means that if you were to use vitamin C and retinol together at the same time, you are less likely to see the benefits.

In this case, it’s important to learn how you can use these products together so that your skin can see the benefits of two amazing products working with each other.

How to use vitamin C and retinol together

If you want to use vitamin C and retinol together, we recommend that you:

  • Select a high-quality vitamin C serum

    Select a high-quality vitamin C serum or concentrate that comes in a dark or coloured bottle, like the Vitamin C Fix Concentrate Extreme 3% or Vitamin C Fix Serum by NIP+FAB. The dark coloured bottle ensures that the solution is not damaged by the light.
  • Use vitamin C products in the morning and retinol at night

    If you are wondering how often you should use retinol, for best results, use vitamin C products in the morning and retinol products at night. Applying an evening retinol treatment ensures you are not exposed to UV light when applying it, which could affect the results. When using your retinol, apply a pea-sized amount to clean and dry skin, avoiding the eye area.
  • Use your vitamin C serum and retinol on alternate nights
    Studies have found that DNA damage could be prevented with a nightly antioxidant, like vitamin C being applied at night. If you want to add this into your routine, make sure to alternate the nights where you use retinol and then vitamin C.

  • Wait 30 minutes between applying vitamin C and retinol

If you need to, you can use your vitamin C and retinol together on the same night, but be sure to wait 30 minutes in between the application. Put on your vitamin C first, then wait half an hour before applying your retinol. Adding in the waiting time allows your skin's pH to return to normal, so each ingredient can work at its expected pH.
Are you ready for clearer, plumper, more even skin? Discover our Vitamin C Fix collection and Retinol Fix collection for a glowing, even complexion.


Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, Volume 7 Supplement, July 2008, pages S2-S6

Clinical Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, November 2013, pages 281-288

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