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What Skincare Products NOT To Mix

Last Updated on November 30, 2021

Ready to step up your skincare game?

So, you’ve stocked up on these fancy skincare products and you’re ready to transform your skin with more than just a cleanser and moisturizer. There’s a difference between knowing about an individual product, and then knowing how when, and how to use them in your skincare routine.

From serums with active ingredients to exfoliating or nourishing treatments, what skincare ingredients can be mixed with others? And more importantly, what are the menthos-and-coke of the skincare world that you should avoid mixing at all costs?

Mixing skincare ingredients is actually not as complicated as you think. If you want to see results, not only do you need to select the right products for your skin type and your skin concern, but you need to know what to use it with so it works best. I am going to show you what to use with what so you don’t waste your money or time, or ruin your skin due to irritation.

Here’s a tip- Don’t be afraid to go for one or two products and build your knowledge. If you invest in too many products or have a complicated skincare routine, it will be difficult to keep up and you may not even see results if there’s too much going on!

Ready for your first lesson in skincare mixology?

Ingredients to mix and not mix

What skin care ingredients not to mix? Some ingredients you can pretty much mix with anything. Let me tell you though, there are some active ingredients that aren’t here to mess around. Pair them up with the right stuff and they work harder, but pair them with their enemy and they’ll be a waste at best, and ruin your skin at worst.

So, to mix or not to mix? That is the question.


Also known as vitamin A, it’s one of the most sought-after ingredients in the skincare world and no wonder. Retinol promotes skin cell turnover, which in turn helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, fades dark spots, and fight acne too. So what’s the problem? Retinol is a powerful ingredient, that if not used properly can cause skin purging, and dry out or cause skin irritation.

Mix with: Moisturizing products such as hyaluronic acid and SPF.

Using natural humectants such as a moisturizer with ceramides can help to draw water back into the skin after retinol dries it out. Oil based ingredients can also help to seal in moisture. Retinol can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s best to use it at night and use a broad spectrum SPF . The good thing is that if you’re using retinol to prevent wrinkles, SPF can help to do exactly that if you wear it daily.

DO NOT mix with: Vitamin C, Benzoyl Peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids

Skin care ingredients to not mix: if you suffer from acne, it can be tempting to use as many products as possible. When you’re already using a potent skincare ingredient such as retinol, it would be a mistake to combine it with another acne fighting product such as benzoyl peroxide. This can aggravate your skin and irritate it, causing way more harm than good.

Since retinol increases cell turnover, you don’t want to be using exfoliating acids such as AHA/BHA acids. Since your skin is already more sensitive when you use retinol, it can irritate it if you exfoliate after using retinol. You can still use exfoliating acids, but not on the same day as retinol.

What about vitamin c? vitamin c helps to brighten the skin as well as protect it from environmental aggressors, so it would be a waste to use it with retinol that repairs the skin. You can use vitamin c in the morning and retinol in the evening for best results.


Another vitamin, this time vitamin B3, Niacinamide is extremely useful for all skin types, but esp[ecially if you suffer from acne prone skin. It is naturally anti inflammatory, evens out skin tone and discoloration, and brightens the skin.

Mix with: Moisturizers and other skincare products

Niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, so they go well with pretty much anything in your skincare routine You can use it in the morning or evening and with other serums. To lock in the effects of niacinamide, it’s best to use a hydrating moisturizer after niacinamide.

DO NOT mix with: Vitamin c

What skin care ingredients not to mix niacinamide serum? Niacinamide and vitamin c. They are both antioxidants and can clash if you put them together. Leave at least ten minutes between applications, and not one after the other.


Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a brightening ingredient that can help you get a glow and fade dark spots. It also protects against environmental aggressors and oxidative damage such as free radicals.

Mix with: SPF and antioxidants

Since vitamin c helps to protect against the environment, it makes sense to use it in the morning, and what better than using it with SPF that also protects against sun damage and UV rays? They both compliment each other and will provide a double layer of protection.

Don’t be afraid to mix vitamin c with other serums and antioxidants such as vitamin e, as this will boost the efficiency and the result you get.

DO NOT mix with: Retinol

Retinol and vitamin c have polar opposite funciotns. Since retinol renovates the skin, it’s best to use it at night, and vitamin c brightens and protects, its best to use it in the morning. Vitamin c can be wonderfully to use when done corrrectly.

Benzoyl peroxide

Another superb skincare ingredient for acne, benzoyl peroxide unfortunately also has its drawbacks. If your acne treatment has benzoyl peroxide, you’ll find it effective but drying on the skin, and you need to be very careful with what you combine with benzoyl peroxide to prevent sensitive skin.

Mix with: A hydrating product

Stick to hydrating cleansers and moisturizers that are non comedogenic, but help restore moisture to the skin. You can use prescription hydrating moisturizers to fight against dehydration, and also spf sun protection is going to help your skin heal and protect it from UV rays. If you have acne, it can also help your skin dry without leaving acne scarring from the sun.

DO NOT mix with: Retinol and other acne treatments such as tretinoin.

Benzoyl peroxide and retinol can end up deactivating one other, essentially rendering them useless if mixed together. If you have a prescription acne treatment, it’s best to be careful when using other acne-fighting ingredients, so make sure you follow the doctor’s instructions. If you want you can use milder ingredients such as salicylic acid in a cleanser to treat acne but try to use only one acne treatment.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

Aha skincare – Beta hydroxy acids and alpha hydroxy acids are ideal if you want to improve skin texture and uneven skin tone. They work by removing dead skin cells to reveal glowing skin underneath. If you have dark spots or even acne-causing bacteria, then you’ll want to get your hands on AHA/BHA acids, or other chemical exfoliants such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid or ascorbic acid that can brighten skin. But, if used incorrectly they can cause skin irritation and make your skin sensitive.

Mix with: SPF and moisturizing ingredients

Pair with hydrating ingredients that nourish the skin, such as ceramides, petrolatum, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin. These are usually found in a good moisturizer, which is the ideal partner after using an alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid. They are an effective way to unclog pores and fade dark spots. Ahas bhas are a lifesaver, but you absolutely need to use broad spectrum sunscreen every morning to prevent irritation and even out discoloration and to avoid uv exposure.

DO NOT mix with: Retinol

Whether you’re using retinol for anti aging to acne, it’s best to avoid using it at the same time as ahas/bha acids. Using both on the same day can be too strong for the skin and cause some irritation or redness and even more serious skin conditions such as eczema. It can damage the skin’s barrier too.


The key ingredient in any skin care routine, and no matter what skin care products you use, you should finish off with SPF. Why? Harmful UV rays can do a lot of damage to the skin even causing skin cancer, especially when you are using skin care products that may render the skin more sensitive.

Mix with: Any product, at the end of your skincare routine

A broad spectrum sunscreen is a finishing touch to every routine, in fact, there aren’t really any ingredients you should never mix with SPF. It can help prevent signs of aging and protects skin from environmental stress. Whether you’re using retinol or exfoliating acids such as lactic acids, you’ll need to protect your skin from the sun.

DO NOT mix with: Makeup or Moisturizers

If you don’t wait enough time for your moisturizer to absorb into the skin, you may end up mixing it in when you apply SPF. What’s the deal? It can render the sunscreen ineffective, meaning you don’t get the protection you need. Go for an spf moisturizer, or wait enough time before applying your moisturizer and spf. Never put them on together.

Makeup is the same thing, it contains plenty of chemicals that affect how well the sunscreen works, so make sure your sunscreen is fully absorbed and even better if you can use makeup that contains spf.

You should be covered with these ingredients, but if you’re unsure, here are some extra tips on how to avoid mixing ingredients:

  • Leave time to absorb
  • Check the label
  • Don’t use products with the same actives
  • Have a separate day and night routine
  • Have a simple routine


Final thoughts

There are so many products out there that knowing skin care ingredients not to mix and then how to use it can only be the start. The secret is to check the label, so you know what active ingredients are in your product so you can use it for better, and not risk getting skin sensitivity.

Whether your product has anti inflammatory properties or is a potent antioxidant or oil based products, mixing them well will help you look after all types of skin concerns, such as dry skin, control oil production, or ph balance, plus you’ll reap all the antioxidant benefits. Mixing skincare ingredients doesn’t have to be complicated.

Now you have everything you need to create your own custom skin routine!



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