Which cosmetics components can and cannot be combined

Many cosmetics components can conflict with one other or, conversely, help enhance the effect when used in a combination. You need to be extra cautious when choosing beauty products, and here’s why.


Alpha-hydroxy acids (for example, glycolic acid), beta-hydroxy acids (for example, salicylic acid), Retinol and vitamin C are among the most common active ingredients recommended by dermatologists. However, not all of these components are compatible with each other. Mechanisms of the ‘components conflict’ in cosmetics may be different. First, this could lead to an excessive mutual reinforcement of the effect. There are also combinations of an abrasive + acid, acid + alcohol. These have a potential to cause redness, irritation, peeling. Another effect is a mutual ‘zeroing’ of the effects. Occlusal preparation with silicone derivatives cannot pass into the skin peptides, hyaluronic acid and other large molecules, therefore would be simply useless. Lastly, it is possible that assets could counteract to each other.


Retinol and acids

The target audience of retinol, or to put it simply – vitamin A, is large: these are the owners of oily, problematic and fading skin. Retinol normalises the activity of the sebaceous glands and prevents the appearance of inflammation. Over the past few years, this component has become one of the main and most popular in cosmetology. At first, retinol can strongly irritate the skin. Basically, it takes time to get used to.

“Mixing retinol with other exfoliates can cause additional dryness and damage to the skin’s protective layer. Therefore, it should not be used with other acids. Retinol, as a rule, is used in the evening, and it is desirable to combine nothing with it, except for basic moisturisers,”

– says Aysulu Tokaeva, chief doctor, derma neurologist and cosmetician at the beauty boutique Aesthetica.


Retinol and vitamin C

Vitamin C and retinol work well only in different environments of skin pH, therefore cannot be combined.

“Cosmetic products, in the composition of which there is vitamin C, are effective at low pH, less than 3.5, whereas retinol is best manifested at a pH of 5.5 to 6. Therefore, one should avoid using these ingredients at the same time. It is quite safe and effective to use serum with vitamin C in the morning, and a cream with retinol in the evening. This ensures the full effectiveness of both ingredients,”

– explains Larissa Stoma, chief doctor and dermato-cosmetologist at RHANA corporation.


Essential Oils and Fruit Acids

It is categorically not advised to use essential oils and fruit acids together. It becomes impossible to control the depth and uniformity of peeling because the essential oils are strong, uneven and improve the absorbency of the skin. To put it simply, you can get a burn.

Vitamin C and SPF

Vitamin C is a good companion to a sunscreen. It is better to apply it before using SPF. Vitamin C, as a rule, comes in heavy or oily bases, meaning it should not be applied at night. In addition, it is an antioxidant, which is often needed in the daytime, so it works well against photoaging when used together with a sunscreen.

“If we consider pharmaceutical companies that produce different lines, then the conflict between the components of the products does not arise, even if they have different aims: lifting, whitening or moisturizing. Being derivatives of one company, they usually aim to complement each other,”

– says Larissa Stoma, chief doctor and dermato-cosmetologist at RHANA corporation.


Curious to find out more about which cosmetics components can and cannot be combined? Leave a comment below and we will reach out to our experts to get an answer for you.

Text: Irina Gorskaia

Images: Allure, Vogue UK

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2018 Irina Gorskaia

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