Mix And Match: The Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Use Together?

by Gio
skincare ingredients to never use together

Skincare ingredients can be such divas.

All the best anti-aging superstars do wonders on their own but ask them to collaborate and they throw a tantrum. They just won’t do their best work. So frustrating!

Wonder who these prima donnas are? Here are the skincare ingredients you should never mix (and how you can force them to get along if you must):

Want to get the most out of your skincare products? Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “How To Combine Actives Like A Pro” cheatsheet.

never mix retinol with aha bhs

Retinol + AHAs/BHA

AHAs (glycolic and lactic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid) are all powerful exfoliants. Retinol (a form of vitamin A), can accelerate cellular turnover (that’s scientific lingo for speeding up your skin’s natural exfoliating process).

This means that all these ingredients help you get rid of the old, dull, and damaged cells on the surface of your skin and replace them with new, bright, and healthy ones.

When used on their own, that is. When used together, they’re more likely to cause redness and irritations. Oh, they can make your skin much more sensitive to sunlight, too.

This combo is proof that too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

The fix

  • Use them at different times of the day or week. I use glycolic acid in the morning and retinol at night. But you can use glycolic acid on Monday and retinol on Tuesday. It’s up to you.

Related: AHAs VHS BHA: Which One Should You Use?

never mix retinol with benzoyl peroxide

Retinol + Benzoyl Peroxide

Did you know that retinol can treat acne, too? So does benzoyl peroxide. It has a peeling action that keeps the pores clean and kills the bacteria that cause acne.

But, benzoyl peroxide is very harsh on its own. That’s why it’s more of a last resort treatment to be used on pimples only.

Use it together with retinol and it gets even harsher. Expect flakiness, redness, peeling, and irritation. Do you really wanna take the risk?

The fix

  • Choose one!
  • If you only get the odd, stubborn pimple, you can apply benzoyl peroxide only on the annoying bugger, and retinol everywhere else. But give other pimple-busters, like salicylic acid or sulfur, a chance first.

Related: Salicylic Acid VS Benzoyl Peroxide: Which One Should You Choose?

never mix retinol with vitamin c

Retinol + Vitamin C

Retinol and vitamin C are my two all-time fave ingredients. They’re both so powerful: they fight free radicals, boost the production of collagen, and brighten skin.

But, they don’t play well together. Retinol works best at a ph of 5.5-6. Vitamin C (in the pure form of l-ascorbic acid) needs a ph of 3.5 or lower. You see the problem?

It’s tricky to formulate a product at a ph that’ll satisfy both vitamin C and retinol. But, that doesn’t mean they’re useless together (there are so many great products out there that contain both). They still work, just not to their full potential.

The fix

  • Use these ingredients at different times of the day or week.
  • Choose time-released products. This simply means that retinol is put into a capsule and released slowly into the skin over a period of several hours. Vitamin C is delivered all at once. So, long after that’s being absorbed, retinol is still being pumped into your skin, finding nothing in its path that can deactivate it.
  • Go for another form of vitamin C. Magnesium ascorbyl palmitate,for example, has an optimal ph of 7-8.5, so it can easily be formulated with retinol, without compromising on efficacy.

Related: Types Of Vitamin C In Skincare Products

never mix vitamin c with niacinamide

Niacinamide + Vitamin C

A quick Google search will highlight two problems with this combo:

  1. Niacinamide turns Vitamin C yellow, making it ineffective.
  2. Mixing Niacinamide with Vitamin C turns it into Niacin, a substance that can have temporary flushing and tingling in people with inflammatory acne or erythema.

So, yes, if you have inflammatory acne or erythema, you don’t want to use these two together. Scroll down to the fix to figure out how to make the most of them.

Everyone else, don’t worry. These reactions don’t happen straight away. They occur so slowly, you won’t even notice a difference. I’ve explained why in detail in this post.

The fix

  • Wait 30 minutes. Apply vitamin C first and, half an hour later, niacinamide. Or vice versa.
  • Don’t have that much time to waste in the morning? Then, use them at different times of the day or week.

Related: Can You Use Niacinamide And Vitamin C Together?

Are you using these antiaging superstars together? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Rebecca Connelly September 24, 2018 - 6:01 pm

Hi Gio,

Hope you can take one more question about routine! I am 55 and people say I look at least 10 years younger, but I can’t give any product credit–I think it’s genes plus generally not being a sun-worshiper, and also having oily skin most of my life. But I moved to Boston from Florida four years ago, and my skin really changed from combination to predominantly dry–though I will still get occasional pimples or these odd bumps that my doctor has said are a form of rosacea. So when I get those, I use metrogel for a bit, but otherwise that’s not a normal part of my routine. I do still have large pores and some blackheads on my nose.

But–to really keep ahead of aging and make my skin as supple as possible, but not break me out (I guess from years of oily skin, I am really averse to anything that might break me out), this is what I am currently using:

Day: some days cleanse with Clean and Clear foaming face wash; others, just rinse with cool water.
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid (every other day)
Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence
Dr. Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm
The Ordinary Niaciniamide plus zinc
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, sometimes with a drop of SkinActives Every Lipid Serum ( I know this is a heavy hitter, but I love how it makes my skin feel)

Evening: Oil Cleanse with Banila Zero Purity, followed by the foam wash above
Twice a week, Retin A .025%; otherwise, Paula’s Choice 8% AHA (I don’t use any other exfoliant on Retin A days)
Hanskin Essence
SkinActives Antoxidant Serum
Niacinamide Plus Zinc
Drunk Elephant Protini Peptide Cream

I am also trying the SkinFix Calm and Repair sleep mask once a week, but it seems to make the other products peel underneath! Don’t know if I’m not waiting enough or it doesn’t agree with the SkinActives in particular.

Does this seem like too much product to mix and match? I realize that since I am on the drier side now with less breakouts, I should probably switch to Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Booster. I also have the Ordinary’s Copper Serum, but I haven’t started it yet. Do I need both it and the Protini (was going to use the Ordinary’s product in the morning)? I have been adding only one new product a month and so far, other than some redness when I first started with the Vitamin C product, everything seems to be agreeing with my skin.

I guess I’m pretty happy with where my skin is right now, but I wonder if I need all of this. Looked at the SkinCeuticals serum that people rave about, but even adding up what else I use, it doesn’t come close to the sticker price of the SkinCeuticals. And yes, my dirty secret is that most days, I don’t use sunscreen. Bad memories from my breakout days and I just hate how it feels on my face. If I’m going to be out in the sun for extended periods, yes, then I use it, but everyday? Nope.

Gio September 29, 2018 - 9:10 pm

Hi Rebecca,

I like your routine but I would make some minor adjustments.

Day: some days cleanse with Clean and Clear foaming face wash; others, just rinse with cool water.
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid – if you’re using this you DON’T need a AHA at night. They’re both exfoliants so pick the one your skin likes best and cut the other from your skincare routine
Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence – try going without it for a few days. Does your skin feels dry and tight in the middle of the day without it? Add it back. Is your skin fine without it? Ditch it.
Dr. Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten and Firm – great choice! If you’re using this and the Skinactive serum at night, you DON’T need to invest in the Skinceuticals Vitamin C serum.
The Ordinary Niaciniamide plus zinc – I agree re switching to Paula’s Choice Booster now your skin is dry. You can mix it with your fave serum or moisturiser too.
The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, sometimes with a drop of SkinActives Every Lipid Serum ( I know this is a heavy hitter, but I love how it makes my skin feel) – this is good but I would do it at night. In the morning, switch to a moisturiser with SPF so at least you’re wearing some SPF.
Evening: Oil Cleanse with Banila Zero Purity, followed by the foam wash above
Twice a week, Retin A .025%; otherwise, Paula’s Choice 8% AHA (I don’t use any other exfoliant on Retin A days) – keep using Retinoids A on alternate days but if you choose to stick to BHA ditch the AHA.
Hanskin Essence – same as above. Once you’ve finished your daytime experiment, do the same thing at night and see how your skin feels with or without it. As winter is approaching, you may need to add it back in but in the warmer months, you may not need it.
SkinActives Antoxidant Serum
Niacinamide Plus Zinc – switch to PC!
Drunk Elephant Protini Peptide Cream -if you want to switch to TO buffet + copper peptides, go for it. Just don’t use it with BHA/AHAs. You can alternate it with Retina A and apply your day moisturiser as night moisturiser.

Hope this helps

Rebecca Connelly October 4, 2018 - 5:07 pm

Thanks! Yes, it helps.

Gio October 7, 2018 - 4:16 pm

Rebecca, you’re welcome. Glad it does.

sherra October 23, 2018 - 12:49 pm

Hi . Im a beginner for this the ordinary product . Previously , i only tried azelaic acid suspension and it does a good job on my skin . For your information , my skin type is combination. So recently , i just bought alpha arbutin , niacinamide and also lactic acid to add on my skincare routine. I just confused abt the correct / proper steps for these products and im afraid if they cant be use together on same routine . Hopefully you can help me on this . Thank you so much .

Gio November 1, 2018 - 5:24 pm

Sherra, alpha arbutin and azelaic acid are both for hyperpigmentation. Are you sure you need them both? I’d try each one for a month and see which one works best for you.

In the AM, cleanse, niacinamide and sunscreen. At night, twice a week use lactic acid. Then, every night, you can use either azelaic acid or alpha arbutin. Alpha arbutin goes on dark spots only. Finish off with moisturiser.

Jerlin February 6, 2019 - 8:19 pm

Hello, I’m 18 years old and I burned my skin with salicylic acid which left my skin dark patches, which are hyperpigmentation, I brought azelaic acid, arbutin 2% + HA, vitamin c powder from ordinary and sunscreen. Would that be enough for my hyperpigmentation to go away? Also, I use the arbutin first on the patches, then seal it with azelaic acid and then top it off with aloe vera, would that work as well? i just started it today so can you tell if I’m doing is correct?

Gio February 8, 2019 - 10:28 am

Jerlin, I think you may be overdoing it a little. use Azelaic Acid and arbutin separately, one month each, and see which one works best for you.

Nicole September 25, 2018 - 2:44 am

Hey! I was hoping you could help me with my schedule. I am 28 and have slightly dry skin, mostly clear but some discoloration, large pores and scarring. Here are my current products
The Ordinary(TO) HA
TO Buffet with Copper
TO Alpha Arbutin
TO Niacinamide
Moisturizer and Sunscreen

PM: Not sure how to combine Buffet, Alpha Arbutin, Niacinamide, Retinold, VIT C, Mandelic Acid? HELP! What should I cut out?

Gio September 29, 2018 - 8:52 pm

Hi Nicole,

in the morning:

Vitamin C
The Ordinary HA

In the evening

Alternate between retinoid and mandelic acid
Buffet with copper
Alpha Arbutin

Eliza October 1, 2018 - 10:48 am

Hello, I’m hoping you can help me with my skincare routine. I’m 44 years old, oily skin with visible pores and some acne scars. My AM routine includes Cetaphil cleanser, Alpha H Clear skin daily moisturizer w/ glycolic acid and Supergoop everyday sunscreen SPF 50. My PM routine includes Cetaphil cleanser, The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% and Infiniti-C Moisturizer. I’m planning to add The Ordinary’s Niacinamide to my routine. I also do a weekly scrub using a Konjac sponge and green clay mask.

Gio October 5, 2018 - 7:53 pm

Eliza, the Ordinary niacinamide is a great choice for your skin type. But I’d get rid of the glycolic acid moisturiser and scrub. The only exfoliant oily skin needs is salicylic acid because it can penetrates and unclog the pores too.

Taylor October 3, 2018 - 7:34 pm

Hello! I’m hoping you can help with my current routine. I’m 27, normal/oily, texture, some underground breakouts along the jaw line and prior acne scarring.

Corsx Good Morning Cleasner
Klairs Supple Prep Toner or Clinique 3 Clarifying Lotion (I swith depding on how my skin is feeling)
Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant Protini Peptides

Face Shop Rice Water Cleansing Oil
w/ Clarisonic : Aveda Gel Cleanser or Panoxyl 4%
Aveda Skin Refiner when needed but never w/ Clarisonic use
Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid or Clinique 3 Clarifying Lotion
Eye Cream
Drunk Elephant Protini Peptides or Organic Tamanu Oil with a few drops Tea Tree Oil

*Aveda Clay Masque once a week.

I am wanting to try The Ordinary products, not sure where to start!

Gio October 7, 2018 - 4:21 pm

Taylor, first stop exfoliating so much! You’re using Clinique 3 Clarifying Lotion, Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid and the Clarisonic, which are all exfoliants. That’s too much. Replace them all with The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution.

I’ve created this anti-acne routine with The Ordinary products: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/guide-the-ordinary-acne-products/

It works for oily skin, too. Just remove azelaic acid as you don’t need it.

Colleen October 14, 2018 - 12:26 am

So glad I found your blog. I really respect your opinion. I feel I walk into my esthetician office and I get the same product sale as the next woman. I am 46 years old, have skin combo more on oily side. I was told to use all the Skinceuticals products. Cleanser, c and e serum, Salicylic for anti aging and blemish control. And the moisturizer lipid something. I have rosacea and acne very controlled from Soolantra. . Not too much of a concern. I have been using prescription Retin-A since I was 24 so I do very well with that mixing in with my moisturizers. Is this too much is this not enough? My main concerns are wrinkles and future wrinkles. Would this be the route to go. I added all that up it’s about $500. Any other solutions. Should I take something away should I add something?

Gio October 14, 2018 - 2:28 pm

Colleen, I agree that if wrinkles and oily skin are your concern, adding a vitamin C serum and salicylic acid will help. But they don’t need to be from Skinceuticals. Paula’s Choice and Timeless have Vitamin C and E serum that are very similar dupes and cost less than $40. Paula’s Choice and The Ordinary also make good salicylic products. The Ordinary Salicylic acid 2% Solution is less than a tenner!

If you already have a moisturiser and cleanser you like, there’s no need to switch to Skinceuticals.

The aesthetician gave you some good advice on what actives work well for your skin type and concern, but after that you can shop around for products that work without breaking the bank.

May October 21, 2018 - 10:10 am

which order should be appropriate in my skincare regimen?
-Clinique liquid soap (type 3)
-Clinique clarifying lotion(AHA BHA toner)
-Hydrating serum
-Clinique Hydrating jelly
-Neutrogena oil free facial wash(2%salisylic acid) for acne prone skin
-Simple soothing toner (witch hazel included)
-Rosehip oil
-Neutrogena oil free facial wash(2%salisylic acid) for acne prone skin
-Simple soothing toner(witch hazel)
-Hydrating serum
-Clinique hydrating jelly
-Clinique facial soap(type 3)
-Clinique clarifying lotion type 3 (AHA BHA toner)
-Rosehip oil

Gio October 21, 2018 - 5:59 pm

May, the second order is better.

Maggie October 22, 2018 - 9:29 pm

What do you recommend for loss of volumen on face to avoid fillers also on nasolabial folds at corner of mouth

Gio October 25, 2018 - 12:44 pm

Maggie, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but no topical product can restore volume. Once you lose that, you need fillers. I know some people have had success with facial exercise, but please note that there isn’t any research supporting its effectiveness.

cass December 5, 2018 - 10:19 am

Maggie, I thought I would help you out here and let you know that the Carolyns Facial Fitness is an effective, cheap and efficient face yoga program that restores volume and helps to less nasolabial folds at the corner of the mouth. Check her out! It really helped to plump up my skin and reduce my lines… combined with a good skincare regimen. The good news is, the program only takes fifteen minutes once you learn it. I thought I’d recommend this since it’s made a big difference to my face. Good luck!

sherra October 23, 2018 - 1:02 pm

First of all, sorry for incomplete comment before . So , I am 24 years old , and my skin type is combination . At this moment my concern is to solve dullness , uneven skin tone and also acne scars. So this is my current routine.

Simple Gel Cleanser
Simple Toner
TO Alpha Arbutin
Aiken Moisturizer
Biore Sunscreen

PM :
Neutrogena Oil Cleanser
Simple Gel Cleanser
Simple Toner
TO Alpha Arbutin
Aiken Moisturizer

* So as i just purchased Lactic Acid and Niacinamide , when should i use them ?

Thank you so much for your time Gio .

Gio October 25, 2018 - 12:39 pm

Sherra, what do you mean with uneven skin tone? Alpha Arbutin is for hyper pigmentation and dark spots and should only be used on those areas, never all over the face.

For dullness, you need exfoliation. Use lactic acid three times a week after toner in the evening. You can use niacinamide instead of alpha arbutin either in the morning or evening. Hope this helps.

Gio October 25, 2018 - 1:46 pm

Gerd, I’m replying here because we’ve run out of space.

Check this post for tips on how to introduce retinol into your skincare routine, including the products that are most suitable for you at your beginner stage: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/strength-retinol-need/

Use retinol after cleansing and then apply niacinamide.

Melissa November 5, 2018 - 10:06 pm

Hi Gio thanks so much for all the great advice! I wanted to ask if to save some time in the morning is it ok to mix in the palm of my hand TO’s hylauronic acid+b5, ascorbyl glucoside 12% and resveratrol+ferulic together? I apply this after cleansing, toning and eye cream and before moisturizer and sunscreen. I am 38 with mixed oily/dry skin, hyperpigmentation and some large pores and some forehead and eye wrinkles (nothing too bad though :))

Gio November 10, 2018 - 7:24 pm

Melissa, you could but I’m not a fan of mixing active ingredients because there’s always the chance you could dilute them or mess up the ph. If you want to save time in the morning, you’re better off ditching the toner and mixing TO hyaluronic acid with your moisturiser.

Widya November 18, 2018 - 9:39 am

hi gio, this is my skincare routine:
facial wash
alpha arbutin
nature republic
facial wash
glossier super pure
alpha arbutin
nature republic
glamglow supermud
if you don’t mind, i would like to ask for your advise… thanks

Gio November 23, 2018 - 12:25 pm

Widya, are you trying to fade away dark spots? This is a good skincare routine.

Glamglow supermud should be used only a couple of times a week after cleanser. Wait 20 min, wash it off and proceed with the rest of your skincare routine.

Vanessa November 20, 2018 - 6:49 am

Hi Gio!

Can vitamin C be used along with an aha/bha toner? I’ve been wanting to try the OleHenriksen oil control toner but not sure if it would be too harsh or not to combine vitamin c with another acid like aha or bha

Gio November 23, 2018 - 12:49 pm

Vanessa, it really depends on your skin. Most people can use this combo but if your skin is sensitive, it may be too harsh indeed.

Mega November 23, 2018 - 1:12 pm

Hi Gio! i’m 21yo and have a lot of acne red scars or PIE i think. so i want to reduce the redness here’s my skincare routine but its not help
anything with my scars
Cleanser : cetaphil gentle cleanser AM/PM
-the ordinary niacinamide

-klairs fleshly juice vit c or alpha arbutin

i’ve already purchased pixi glow tonic and klairs supple toner when can i use them in my skincare. can klairs vit c or alpha arbutin be used along with pixi glow tonic?

Gio December 9, 2018 - 9:53 am

Mega, do you have scars of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation? If they’re dark spots left behind by pimples, alpha Arbutin should have worked already. You can trey adding pixi glow tonic three nights a week and see what happens. But if they’re proper scars and not just discolouration, there’s nothing skincare products can do. You need to see a doctor for laser or other treatment.

Erin November 24, 2018 - 3:24 pm

Hi Gio. You have been extraordinarily generous with your time, answering everyone’s questions. I hesitate to add mine, but I haven’t been able to find any other information about this specific issue. Three times per week, I use a 2% salicylic acid cleanser (Clearasil) on my whole face, and, once a week, I have just started using a sulfur mask (DDF) on oily face areas only (forehead, chin). I am not generally acne prone, but I occasionally get hormonal spots on my chin that often leave hyperpigmentation for 3-4 months. To fade those spots faster, do you think that it would be worth adding a glycolic acid toner to my chin on days when I don’t use other exfoliants, or maybe a niacinimide or alpha arbutin cream/serum for spot treatment? Or am I doing about the best I can with the salicylic acid/sulfur? I know you mentioned that BHAs/AHAs shouldn’t be used together, but I have heard that AHAs can be very effective in fading spots and it seems my results with my BHA wash are limited. And how does the sulfur fit in? Thanks a million!

Gio December 9, 2018 - 10:55 am

Hi Erin, thank you for your comment and your support. Try switching to a leave-in exfoliant with salicylic acid to prevent hormonal spots in the first place. SA is more effective when you leave it on the skin than when you wash it off.

But once the spots have cleared, you can indeed using glycolic acid as a spot treatment on the discolouration they leave behind. It does work well fo this kind of spots indeed. Only if you don’t see any results, try a more powerful treatment like alpha arbutin or azelaic acid.

Ezra November 27, 2018 - 11:18 pm

Hello Gio,

I currently have Niacinamide, Alpha Arbutin & Rose Hip oil from The Ordinary, Cetaphil gentle cleanser, Derma E AHA exfoliator, Dickinson Witch hazel toner & Nature Republic Aloe Vera gel. I have oily and Acne prone skin. I just want to ask what will be the best skin care routine for me? I used the ordinary nia & alpha arbutin for a couple of days and I had zits, it makes my face itchy and bumpy, I put 3 drops on my face day and night. Since Aloe Vera gel calms my face everytime I breakout. Can I still use it after serums? Thank you so much in advance.

Gio December 9, 2018 - 10:22 am

Ezra, if you have oily, acne-prone skin stop using a AHA exfoliator and switch to salicylic acid. I’m not sure why you’re using alpha arbutin as that’s a spot treatment for dark spots. If your makes your skin itchy, don’t use it all.

You can use niacinamide in the morning and salicylic acid followed by reship oil in the evening.

amita balasundaram November 29, 2018 - 5:51 pm


I am wondering how to use retinol (the ordinary) , vitamin c ester (perricone), niacinamide + zinc and alpha arubtin.

Gio December 7, 2018 - 12:44 pm

Amita, you can use vitamin C followers by alpha Arbutin in the AM and retinol followed by niacinamide in the evening.

Angeline Feligie Khowidiyantho December 5, 2018 - 6:52 am

Hi Gio,

Thank you so much for kindly sharing your knowledge on skin care, I enjoyed reading your interactions with your readers! You are really kind to help them better figure out the correct order to their skincare routine – I am wondering if you could help me find mine (a little confused here as I am a newbie to skincare).

I used to suffer from acne for the past 3+ years, but I now have clear skin and would like to very much maintain it, hence the interest in skincare. Though I seldom get blemishes, my face still suffers from redness and acne scars. I also have noticeable blackheads on my nose that I’d like to get rid of.

Here’s my skincare routine:

– AM:
1. Cleanser
2. Toner
3. Cicapair Dr. Jart serum
4. Moisturizer
5 . SPT

– PM:
1. Cleanser
2. Toner
3. Sunday Riley’s Luna
4. Sunday Riley’s Good Genes
5. Moisturizer

I just recently bought Biossance’s Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil and The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% per my friend’s recommendation. I am wondering if: 1. my skincare routine order is correct, and 2. how to properly incorporate those 2 new skincare into my routine in order to address my skincare problem?

Thank you so much in advance for your help. I really appreciate your time and I look forward to hearing from you 🙂


Gio December 7, 2018 - 10:55 am

Hi Angeline, you can use The Ordinary’s Niacinamide + Zinc in the morning instead of Dr Jart serum. That has niacinamide too but if your skin is oily, The Ordinary will work better for you.

You can use Biossance at night instead of your moisturizer. I’d also change Good Genes for an exfoliant with salicylic acid. Unlike Good Genes, salicylic acid can exfoliate your pores and keep acne from coming back.

padma gantagoru December 5, 2018 - 4:18 pm

Hello Gio,
Thanks for the wonderful insight, I have been using Clindamycin in the morning Tretinoin at PM as prescribed by my dermatologist from the past 6 months. My Acne is in control but my skin has become super dry.. I was looking to introduce hyaluronic acid in the AM before my moisturizer but after Clindamycin. What are your thoughts?

Any suggested routine??


Gio December 7, 2018 - 10:49 am

Padma, I’d apply it before moisturizer so the moisture HA attracts to the skin stays in. And you can use it in the PM too.

Nicole December 27, 2018 - 8:33 pm

Hi Gio,
I have oily skin with large pores and some hyperpigmentation that I want to minimize. I really don’t know where to begin with a routine. I’ve heard good things about Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, but I don’t know if that’s enough. I would also like to incorporate retinol and alpha arbutin into rotation. Obviously, the retinol would be used every other night alternating with Good Genes. I suppose that the alpha arbutin would be used in the AM. Can I use Maelove’s the Glowmaker with the Alpha Arbutin? Are there any products you suggest? Thanks for your help,

Gio January 25, 2019 - 8:36 am

Nicole, Sunday Riley Good Genes is a good product – for dry skin. Yours is oily so you need salicylic acid. SA can get inside the pores, removing all the excess oil and other impurities in the pores. Once the pores are clean, they will shrink back to their original size.

In the AM, cleanse, Maelove, sunscreen. In the evening, salicylic acid, alternate between alpha arbutin and retinol, and then moisturise.

Ashley Levanway Brown January 2, 2019 - 5:28 pm

Hi! These comments and your replies have been so informative. Thank you! I also have a question. I want to introduce Ordinary Alpha Arbutin and the Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age serum. I also just bought an AHA:BHA serum. I’m 50 and have a lot of emerging sun spots.

1. I already use Timeless C plus Ferulic in the AM after a cold water wash. CAN I follow that with the Alpha Arbutin or should I alternate?

2. I use Drunk Elephant Protini as an AM and PM moisturizer. Should I avoid using that or my SUbQ serum after my AHA/BHA serum because of the peptides? If so, how much time should I allow between acids and peptides?

Gio January 12, 2019 - 11:28 am

Hi Ashely, yes you can use Alpha Arbutin after Timeless Vitamin C and SubQ after exfoliation. But introduce these products one at a time to give skin time to get used to the new actives.

Famie Ann January 3, 2019 - 3:41 am

Hi Gio,
I just have a quick favor to ask. Could you evaluate my skin care routine and if I’m doing everything right. I’m not too sure if I’m mixing the right products to get the most effective results.
In the morning,
– Panoxyl Benzoyl Peroxide cleanser
– COSRX snail mucin essence
– vitamin C & hyaluronic acid
– first aid beauty moisturizer

At night,
– same cleanser
– pixi glow tonic or sometimes the ordinary glycolic acid toner
– same essence
– (im not sure which serum to use: the ordinary azelaic acid or the ordinary lactic 5% + HA I want to reduce hyperpigmentation however I also have sensitive dry skin)
– same moisturizer

Please let me know your input! Anything will help! Thank you so much!!

Gio January 12, 2019 - 9:15 am

Hi Famie, I’d love to help but I’m not really sure what you’re trying to accomplish with your skincare routine. You say you have dry sensitive skin that’s pigmented but then are using a benzoyl peroxide cleanser that suitable only for acne-prone skin? If you don’y have acne, ditch that immediately!

Hayley Williams January 5, 2019 - 10:43 am

Hi, i recently bought the ordinary’s products; alpha arbutin and niacinamide to try and battle my acne and scaring. However I already use acne.org’s benzoyl peroxide treatment. are these okay to use all together and do have any suggestions on the order which i should use them?

Gio January 12, 2019 - 2:42 pm

Hayley, you can use them together but, as a rule, benzoyl peroxide is only for active acne, ie pimples. If you don’t have any pimples, you can leave it out.

Kay January 16, 2019 - 7:24 pm

thank you for your informative blog. I need some advice on my products.

I am 7 weeks post partum with baby #2 (a surprise baby at age 45…although many think I am 10 years younger at least) and had pretty decent skin throughout my pregnancy. I was using Drunk Elephant c firma (am) with drunk elephant protini moisturizer until I ran out of both. I did use DE glycolic serum at night until I ran out. I was uncertain if it was doing much for me though, so did not repurchase and started Caudalie products as they are safe in pregnancy and nursing.

My main issue now is with hyperpigmentaton (sunspots, marks from old pimples, melasma) and wanting to maintain hydration to help with aging especially during winter months now. I have combo skin (oily t zone and dehydrated cheeks) which I think can be sensitive and is pigmented more so since pregnancy. I am using niacinamide, lactic acid and brightening radiance serum from Caudalie (see below).

My current routine is:
cleanse: with gentle cleanser (Consonant foaming wash) OR just water.
tone: (rosewater and glycerin by heritage)
serum: (niacinamide by the Ordinary), vinoperfect brightening radiance serum by Caudalie
moisturize: (organic ultra moisturizing cream/lotion by Consonant)* It has niacinamide in it I think
sometime I use squalane oil as well
sunscreen: Drunk Elephant sheer umbra

cleanse (Consonant cleanser OR oil cleanse with sweet almond oil/jojoba oil few times a week)
tone: rosewater and glycerin, grape water or elixir by Caudalie
essence: Caudalie brightening essence with glycolic in it (don’t know how much though).
serums: Caudalie vinopeferct radiance brightening serum, niacinamide by the Ordinary (a I started using the Ordinary’s lactic acid and will sue every other day to start).
mositurize: Caudalie overnight renewal cream
oil: Kosmea roship oil

My questions are:
1. Can you use niacinamide twice a day? Can it dry you out? I feel I have gotten reddish/flushing on my cheeks and some mini red spots, but it doesn’t itch or hurt.
2. Is my PM routine okay or is it too much. I am targeting pigmentaiton on my cheeks mainly and nose as well as aging (lines, hydration etc). I want my pregnancy glow to stay 🙂
3. Can I use lactic acid with niacinamide plus rosehip oil in same routine? Or should I just stick with niacinmade OR lactic acid in one routine with the rosehip oil?do I put on lactic acid first then any other serums? Even if other serums appear more watery?
4. I am open to suggestions for products (especially moisturizers as I am running out of what I have).
5. Caudalie products say you can use day and night even though the essence has glycolic acid in it and the serum has vinefrine for brightening (from the grape sap which is 62xmore potent than vit c, and they also claim more potent than kojiac, arbutin for brightening). I thought you shouldn’t use glycolic acid in the day time? Can I use the radiance serum in the day or should I keep it for night time?

Thank-you in advance and keep up the great work!


Gio January 24, 2019 - 8:00 pm

Kay, congratulations on baby #2! Pregnancy can play tricks on the skin, but its so worth it in the end. 🙂 To answer your questions:

1. You can use TO niacinamide twice a day on oily areas but I wouldn’t use it at all on dry areas. This is a product for oily skin only.

2. That depends on you. Are you happy with the results or do you want to simplify to spend less time on skincare?

3. Yes, you can use lactic acid first, then niacinamide and then rosehip oil.

4. You can find my fave moisturisers for oily skin here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/how-to-care-for-combination-skin/

5. You can use it in the morning as well, as long as you put on sunscreen afterwards. But if you want to keep your routine shorter in thr morning, you can use it only at night.

Ivy January 21, 2019 - 6:51 am

Hello Good,
I have been admiring your blog for a while now. Since I am new to retinoids, I would like to start using it ( The Ordinary granactive retinoid 2 %) for enlarged pores and signs of aging ( I am 36). However, I am currently using The Ordinary SubQ serum,which contains one form of Retinoid complex.
Do you think they can be safely used ( on alternate nights) ?

Gio January 24, 2019 - 7:45 pm

Ivy, I am confused as to why you want to sue another form of retinoid? If you’re happy with the SubQ Serum, keep using that. If it doesn’t give you the results you crave, switch to something more powerful. But don’t use two retinoids in the same routine, unless the product is formulated with more than one form of retinoid by a properly trained chemist.

Jas January 29, 2019 - 8:50 am

J.One Jelly Cleanser
Dear Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum
Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Toner
CosRx Snail Mucin 96 Power Essence
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye
CosRx Advanced 92 All in One Cream

Heimish All Clean Balm
J.One Jelly Cleanser
Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Toner
The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% Squalene OR CosRx Blackhead Power Liquid OR CosRx Whitehead Power Liquid (depends on what I feel my skin needs)
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate
Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

Heimish All Clean Balm
J.One Jelly Cleanser
CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid (20 minutes, do not rinse)
Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (wash off after 20 minutes)
Heimish All Clean Balm (massage onto face then rinse)

Your thoughts please? I am 32yo and have combination skin.

Gio February 7, 2019 - 6:24 pm

JAS, if this skincare routine is working for you, I don’t see any reason to change anything.

Aisha malik January 31, 2019 - 4:29 am

Hi , I am using Meiji collagen powder in the night time with hot milk and Melano vitamin c serum for face in morning and night time . But I just came to know that these two products cannot be use together because these products does not work together.i am really worried. Can you guide me ? I am asking from many bloggers but they do not reply . But in your blog you did not mention collagen .

Gio February 7, 2019 - 5:22 pm

Aisha, why do you think they can’t be combined? I don’t see anything wrong with them.

Vicki February 3, 2019 - 4:54 pm

Hi Gio,
As everyone else, I’d like to say thank you for your blog, comments and answers. I’m reasonably new to all of this beauty regime malarkey (as someone said: better late than never!) and I’m glad I’ve stumbled upon your site.
I’m nearly 48, with pretty normal skin, just the usual signs of aging and ‘laughter lines’. I started with The Ordinary back in November (Buffet, rosehip oil, matrixyl+ha) and Pixi’s Glow and Retinol Tonic. A couple of weeks ago I bought Drunk Elephant’s Littles. I love their TLC Framboos serum and I was wondering if I could use the TO Matrixyl 10%+HA with it instead of their B-Hydra as they suggest? Or even TO’s Hyaluronic Acid 2%+B5? I am starting to see a difference…my lines are softer and I’m looking less haggard and I wouldn’t want to go and upset the apple cart! I’d love to hear your thoughts:)

Gio February 8, 2019 - 6:12 pm

Vicki, thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your support.

Yes, you can use TO Matrixyl + HA instead than B-Hydra. But Framboos has glycolic acid too so choose either that or Pixi Glow.

Kavisha Munasinghe February 6, 2019 - 12:20 am

Hello! I have pretty dry skin with a little bit of discoloration and some tiny bumps on my face (not acne),I typically have clear, unproblematic skin other than that. I purchased a couple of The Ordinary products for these problems and I was hoping which ones I should use in which order, also if there are any other T.O. products you would recommend for me please let me know. Thank you so much

-Mandelic Acid 10% +HA
-Alpha Arbutine 2% +HA
-AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
-%100 Plant- Derived, Hemi- Squalene

Gio February 8, 2019 - 2:18 pm

Kavisha, try using mandelic acid in the morning and alpha arbutin in the evening, both followed by Squalane.

Aisha February 8, 2019 - 9:32 am

Thank you so much for your response . Here is the reference where they said collagen should not combine with vitamin C serum . You can watch from 9:10 https://youtu.be/6B9Y0fUirZ8

Gio February 8, 2019 - 2:05 pm

Aisha, thanks for the video. I don’t really get her argument, though. Collagen is too big to penetrate the skin anyway. So if you apply vitamin C and layer a collagen serum on top you’ll be fine.

Micah February 18, 2019 - 1:24 pm

Hi! Would it be okay if I use Tamanu oil right after The Ordinary Glycolic Acid toner? (TTHS) And the on MWF, I’ll cleanse with raw African black soap and follow it with Tamanu oil? This will be my PM routine.

Gio February 20, 2019 - 5:31 pm

Micah, I don’t recommend black soap because it’s drying. But the rest of your skincare routine is fine.

syaza February 21, 2019 - 9:56 am

Hi. i want to ask you can i wear a moisturizer that contains ceramides and PHA(MISSHA TOTAL CERAMIDE CREAM) with alpha arbutin (GOW) in a routine.

Gio February 28, 2019 - 5:53 pm

Syaza, yes you can.

Tessa February 25, 2019 - 5:19 am

Hi! I’ve just read your blog and I want to say thank you for how helpful you are! So I have rosacea, sensitive skin, occasional pimples due to rosacea, combo dry/oily skin, and hyperpigmentation (sun damage and acne scars). I also did accutane when I was younger and have been using azelaic acid since and that helps calm down the redness and pimples a little bit. I’ve bought the Vichy vitamin c 15% brightener, melazopam azelaic acid, simple micellar water with niacinamide, and basic CeraVe moisturizing cream. I was thinking of this order for my routine but wanted to know your thoughts about mixing:
Azelaic acid
Vitamin C
CeraVe moisturizer
Micellar water
Azelaic acid
CeraVe moisturizer

Thank you soooooo much! I’ve struggled with so many skin problems for so long and any advice would be amazing.

Gio February 28, 2019 - 6:23 pm

Tessa, I’d use vitamin C before Azelaic Acid. Apart from that, it’s a great skincare routine. 🙂

LL March 2, 2019 - 2:23 pm

I am new to The Ordinary. I just started TO Caffine for eye dark circle, and keen to try the Advanced Retinoid/ Granactive Retinoid2% Emulsion and Alpha Arbutin+HA.I’m just not sure if my order will be correct. My current routine are…

I am 35 yo, normal combo, fair skin with some sun spot, some pores problem too.

– Korean Beauty Water (to tone)
– Korean Secret Key Water Essence mix with Philosophy Vit C Powder
– **Thinking of adding the Alpha Arbutin 2%+HA to this step
– TO Caffine
– Eye cream
– Loccitane Aqua moisturiser
– Sunscreen

– Korean Beauty Water (to tone)
– Korean Secret Key Water Essence mix with Philosophy Vit C Powder
– Alpha Arbutin 2%+HA ??
– Lancome Advanced Genifique serum
– TO Caffine
– Eye cream
– Trilogy night cream

I also have a Derma E Victamic C serum not sure which step I should i include this.

Thanks & Appreciated!!!!

Gio March 8, 2019 - 3:34 pm

LL, you’re already using Philosophy Vitamin C powder so you don’t need Derma E serum too. The Alpha Arbutin placement is correct, use it on discolourations only.

Hannah Williams March 3, 2019 - 4:46 pm

Hi! I’ve just started reading your page and was wondering if you could help me, your advice for other people had been so insightful to skincare?
I suffer from hormonal acne around my chin so I break out for about a week every month which leave my skin with red marks that take ages to fade away. I want to introduce a retinol into my routine but don’t know how it will fit with my routine, I’ve purchased the The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 2% in Squalane to use but don’t know how it will react with the products I currently use. I don’t ‘treat’ the spots rather let them do their thing, I’m more concerned with treating the marks that acne leaves on my skin. Currently my routine is:

Micellar water to cleanse
La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo
Eye Cream (I’m not loyal, just something for hydration)
Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+
(I don’t like to use to many products in the morning due to time restraints in the morning, and I have very oily skin and find when I use too many products in the morning, my make-up doesn’t last as well, regardless of the primer I use, or the skincare piles as I’m applying make up)

Garnier Simply Essentials Eye Make-Up Remover
Garnier Pure Active Make Up Remover Purifying Gel (contains Salicylic Acid)
Cetaphil Oily Cleanser with a Foreo Face Brush (I’m tempted to try the CeraVe Cleanser when this runs out if it would be better)
Thayers Witch Hazel Toner (not everyday, just 3/4 times a week)
Mario Badescu Facial Spray (any of the three depending on mood)
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid + B5
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA or The Ordinary Ascorbic Acid 8% + Alpha Arbutin 2%
Eye Cream
La Roche – Posay Effaclar Duo Moisturiser

I use various face masks 1/2 times a week but the main ones are Lush Mask of Magnaminty, GlamGlow Supermud or La Roche Posay Effaclar Clay Mask and different Korean sheet masks for hydration if I’ve used a one of the previous masks.

My main concern is whether I can use the retinol with the Alpha Arbutin 2% serum – I know I can’t mix it with ascorbic acid. Is there any other products you would recommend? I’ve tried in the past The Ordinary Niacinamide serum, The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% and Rosehip oil, but stop using them because I didn’t feel they worked for me ( I still have them if you think they would work). What order do you think the products would work best in?

Sorry for the super long post – I’m started to get frustrated in not seeing much difference in my skin and want to get somebody else’s opinion.

Gio March 8, 2019 - 3:25 pm

Hi Hannah, I hear your frustration! Here are some quick tweaks I’d make:

1. Replace Effaclar Duo in the morning with The Ordinary Salicylic Acid to help prevent spots and dark marks in the first place.
2. Alpha Arbutin goes only on dark marks, don’t apply it all over.
3. You can use the retinoid instead than the toner every other day.

If you need more help to create the perfect skincare routine for you, I now offer bespoke consultations. You can book yours here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/

Hope this helps!

aqi nabil March 14, 2019 - 12:27 pm

Hi there please guide me how to layer products at night time
I have The Ordinary
Hyaluronic acid
Salicylic acid
Vitamin C cream
What to apply first i am confused please help me 😊

Gio March 16, 2019 - 11:43 am

Aqi, as a rule, always exfoliate after cleansing. After that, apply products with the thinner texture first and those with the thicker texture last. If you need more help to create the perfect skincare routine for you, I now offer bespoke consultations. You can book yours here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/
Hope this helps!

Cynthia March 15, 2019 - 11:51 pm

Gio you are amazing and generous. I’m confused about one thing and I apologize if it’s a repeat. SkiBetter AltNet night time says its ingredients are retinol and AHA. This is such a good brand I would assume they have figured out how to combine the two items? Or what am I missing / not understanding. It does leave my skin much happier than prescription Retin-A alone. Thank you!

Gio March 16, 2019 - 11:56 am

Cynthia, yes when two “incompatible” ingredients are in the same product, it’s because cosmetic chemists adjusted doses/pH etc to make them work together. It’s when you DIY and mix/layer products that shouldn’t be mixed that you can experience side effects.

Nailah March 16, 2019 - 6:19 pm

Hi Gio, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge. Just wanted some advice on the skincare products I bought recently. I’m 21 with dry, sensitive skin that is acne prone but I usually only break out around that time of the month. My aim is to prevent breakouts and clear up my hyperpigmentation and PIE. If you could guide me on how I could incorporate the new products in my routine, I’d really appreciate it.

My current routine is
Aveeno Clear complexion salicylic acid cleanser
Thayers witch hazel toner
Caudalie vinoperfect radiance serum
Vichy collagen cream OR Neutrogena salicylic acid moisturizer (or both)
SPF 60 sunscreen

Same cleanser
Same toner but thinking about TO glycolic acid toner instead
Caudalie vinoperfect radiance serum
Caudalie vinoperfect Brightening Glycolic night cream

New products:
TO Glycolic Acid 7% Toning solution
TO ascorbyl Glucoside solution 12%
TO Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA
TO Mandelic Acid
OleHenrikson Goodnight glow Retin-Alt sleeping creme*

Can I use TO glycolic acid toner with Caudalie’s glycolic night cream or is it too much glycolic acid?
When would I apply alpha arbutin and ascorbyl glucoside? together? AM or PM?
What would you recommend to prevent future breakouts? TO salicylic acid 2%?
*I only got a trial size of the olehenrikson retin-alt cream so if I don’t need it, I would probably just give it to my mother.

Thank you so much!

Gio March 21, 2019 - 5:02 pm

Nailah, you can check out this post to know how to prevent hormonal breakouts: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/ultimate-guide-dealing-hormonal-acne/

NEVER use more than ONE glycolic acid products at any one time.

If you need more help to create the perfect skincare routine for you, I now offer bespoke consultations. You can book yours here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/

Cynthia C March 18, 2019 - 10:38 pm

Hi Gio, it’s so nice of you to take your time replying everyone. You’re an angel. I just got The Ordinary 100% L-ascorbic powder. Would it be okay if I mixed it with my cetaphil moisturizing lotion? I was told that topical vitamin c works at a PH of 2.5 to 3.5. Is there any mild moisturizer I can mix it with if cetaphil is not a good match?
Sorry if my English is bad, it’s only a second language. Looking forward to your reply.

Gio March 21, 2019 - 4:19 pm

Cynthia, I don’t recommend vitamin C powders. Any good moisturiser would have a pH around 5.5 so it’s tricky to use them in a way that’s effective.

Karen March 22, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Hey! I’m just getting better from an acne breakout. I only use in the morning niacinamide from the ordinary and a really light weigh moisturizer but I know have dark acne scars. I want to know how is better to use the glycolic acid toner, the nianciamide and effaclar duo+ from la roche posay, in the pass I have use the glycolic toner and lactic acid every other day but I dont know how to get the best of this products.

Gio March 29, 2019 - 1:00 pm

Karen, when you say scar, do you mean an actual scar or a dark spot? if dark spots, exfoliating with glycolic acid 3 nights a week after cleansing can help. If it’s an actual scar, you need to see a dermatologist.

Helen March 23, 2019 - 9:55 pm

I wish I’ve seen this post before! While I am aware of some of the combo no-no you listed, I wasn’t aware of this one NIACINAMIDE + VITAMIN C!
My moisturizer has Niacinamide in it and I’ve been putting moisturizer after Vitamin C in the AM. Should I stop doing that?
Thank you!

Gio March 29, 2019 - 1:44 pm

Helen, please read the entire post. As I’ve written, using them together is a problem only if you get flushing.

Hafsa April 1, 2019 - 12:22 pm

Hi. Can you please help me with my skincare routine as I’m really confused about the usage of certain products. I get closed comedones quite often and I’m battling a few acne scars and uneven skin tone.

Neutrogena oil free cleanser (salycilic acid 2%)
Cosrx oil free ultra moisturising lotion
Klairs supple preparation facial toner
Beesline ultrascreen cream spf 50
Cosrx bha blackhead power liquid
Mizon aha 8% peeling serum
TO niacinamide + zinc
TO alpha arbutin 2% + HA

I use toner, sunscreen and moisturizer in the morning and at night I apply toner, aha, bha, moisturize but it isn’t really helping me much. Am i over exfoliating by using aha bha every night? Also I bought the ordinary products a week ago, haven’t tried it yet. I would be really grateful if you could help me.

Gio April 4, 2019 - 11:34 am

Hafsa, yes you’re definitely overexfoliating. Use only ONE BHA leave-on exfoliant.

I’ve written a guide on how to add The Ordinary anti-acne products in your routine here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/guide-the-ordinary-acne-products/

If you need more help to create the perfect skincare routine for you, I now offer bespoke consultations. You can book yours here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/skincare-consultation/

Tara Mattingly April 5, 2019 - 2:52 pm

I just started Curology and it’s working great, it has Azelaic Acid, clindamycin, and niacinamide. If I’m using it at night would it be dangerous for my skin barrier to use P50 in the morning occasionally?

Gio April 12, 2019 - 3:23 pm

Tara, I wouldn’t say dangerous but it’s not recommended. The best exfoliant for your skin type is salicylic acid.

Sophia April 24, 2019 - 12:06 pm

I’m thinking of getting the klairs vitamin E mask, is it any good? If yes must I use it with a vitamin C serum?

Gio April 26, 2019 - 9:27 am

Sophia, yes it’s a good mask for dry skin. And yes, you can use it with vitamin C.

khairiyah April 26, 2019 - 7:17 am

hi gio , i want to know about my skincare routine ,
AM : i wash my face using Aha +bha hada labo , hada labo hydrating lotion, garnier vitamin c essence and hada labo hydrating cream ,
PM : same as above but except the garnier vitamin c and hada labo hydrating cream , i use Yanko night cream (taiwan’s product).

I usually have tiny bumps on my forehead and cheeks , but im asking u , is it okay if i mix them together in my skincare routine , for the tiny bumps it seems not working with it , i dont know how to deal with it , can u suggest some affordable products for me ?

Gio April 26, 2019 - 9:34 am

Khairiyah, try a leave-on salicylic acid exfoliant. BHA works better when left on a skin for hours than in a cleanser that’s rinsed down the drain after a minute.

Karina April 27, 2019 - 4:20 pm

I’ve been using The Ordinary Niacinamide with the Mad Hippie Vitamin C at the same time in the morning. I’ve also been using Murads outsmart acne clarifying treatment. Is that ok or should I use each on opposite days.

Gio May 31, 2019 - 1:11 pm

Karina, you can use niacinamide a vitamin c together in the morning. Murad has glycolic acid and that’s best used at night. You can use it everyday if you don’t find too drying, otherwise every other day.

Elisabeth May 7, 2019 - 8:06 am

Hi! I was just wondering if I can use Cerave Foaming cleanser, Mario Badescu glycolic acid toner and Cerave AM facial moisturiser together? Or if it will cause some reaction to my skin. I often use a thin later of sink cream when i sleep, which I put on AS the last fisnish. Is that okay to use also with the other products?

I don’t understand all this about AHA’s, BHA’s, Retinol etc, but I have struggled with hormonal acne the last six months. Which has totally exploded -when I at a depreate time, used a lot of different products(cleansers, toners, serum, acne-creams, spot treatments, masks, scrubs and so on) all in different brands, and mixed it all. I try now to use few products that are mild and do not break me out. I have combination skin, which is a bit sensitive and have had a tendensy of getting dry in acne-treatments.

So I’m just wondering: what will you recomend for me to do?

Gio June 4, 2019 - 6:46 pm

Elisabeth, the skincare routine you suggested is fine, but use salicylic acid instead then glycolic as it’s more effective for acne. Both Paula’s Choice and The Ordinary have some great salicylic acid exfoliants.

Jane Nguyen May 10, 2019 - 7:04 am

Hi Gio! After I apply some toner and essence/serum/ampoule, can you tell me the order I should put on next which includes sheet masks, oil, and moisturizer? thank you so much!

Gio June 4, 2019 - 6:13 pm

Jane, sheet mask, moisturizer and oil.

Elisa May 15, 2019 - 1:58 am

I’m learning so much!! I’m about to start your recommended acne fighting routine with The Ordinary’s products and I’d like to add in a Vitamin C (I’m leaning towards Mad Hippie). I’m definitely a newbie to combining all these different products and get so nervous. How does this routine look?

Salicylic Acid
Azelaic Acid Suspension
Vitamin C (in the morning to keep it away from Niacinamide?)

Retinoid Serum (2-3 times a week)
Niacinamide + Zinc
100% Plant Derived Squalane

Laura June 3, 2019 - 9:11 pm

Hi Gio!
I am relatively new to skin care–just discovered your site and love what I’m reading. I am 32 with some sun damage spots, and blackheads on nose, chin, and in ears. This is my current routine. Would you recommend adding salicylic acid? Can I use vitamin C serum AM and PM?

Vitamin C serum
TO Alpha Arbutin

TO glycolic acid toner
Alternate: TO Granactive Retinoid 2%/TO Lactic acid
TO Alpha Arbutin
What do you think? Thanks!

Gio June 4, 2019 - 5:45 pm

Laura, why are you using glycolic AND lactic acid? Ditch them both and use salicylic acid in the PM after cleansing. Vit C AM only.

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