Have you ever wondered why your skin is not improving even after using tons of skin care products? Well, that itself might be the problem. Skin care products contain active ingredients and layering them all at the same time could either work for you or against you.
Think about all the chemicals your facial wash, moisturizer, and eye creams contain, and the consequences of using them all the same time. These ingredients, though they have good intentions, may clash and deactivate each other, which may hinder your skin from reaping their benefits. Or worse, they may end up in a chemical reaction that wrecks your skin.
Even if you hated your chemistry class, you should pay attention to the list of ingredients on your favorite beauty creams. There are chemical combinations that are effective in their own, individual ways, does not play well when combined. To begin with, here are seven chemical combos you should never put on your face.
- Benzoyl Peroxide + Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA)
Let’s debunk a popular myth: When your skin looks red and feels itchy, it doesn’t mean your skin care product is working. It means your skin has a decreased tolerability from the product, resulting in irritations.
Benzoyl peroxide and BHA are both exfoliating and peeling ingredients. It’s safe to say that when these two are combined together, they make up a recipe to redness, irritation, and peeling, which are the last things you’d want to happen to your face. You can use only one of these two.
- Benzoyl Peroxide + Vitamin C
Dermatologists wax poetic on how essential Vitamin C is to your skin and they recommend you to have Vitamin C-based products in your daily regimen. While having Vitamin C is beneficial, dermatologists suggest not to use it with benzoyl peroxide, a popular acne-clearing staple. When the two ingredients clash, the acne treatment will oxidize Vitamin C and make the power of both useless. You can use them alternatively in order to reap the benefits of both effectively.
- Vitamin C + Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA)
The main reason why you should put Vitamin C in your skincare routine is because of its rich antioxidant properties. Vitamin C, however, is very unstable and pH sensitive. Aside from taking Vitamin C away from benzoyl peroxide, you should also not combine it with AHA.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids are powerful agents in peeling off dead skin and smoothening damaged skin. Layering it with strong AHAs can alter the pH level of Vitamin C and diminish its antioxidant properties.
- Salicylic Acid + Glycolic Acid
Just because the two are both acids doesn’t mean they should go together. In a nutshell, both acids work as chemical exfoliators, but they vary on how they work. If your skin is dry or normal, go for glycolic acid (AHA) and if your skin is acne-prone and oily, opt for salicyclic acid (BHA).
You may use only one product at a time. Mixing these two ingredients is never a good idea for the exfoliating combo can dry out your skin big time.
- Retin-A + Exfoliants
Retin-A is a sought-after ingredient that has the ability to help your skin renew itself. It is often found in skin care products designed to treat wrinkles, skin roughness, and discoloration. The downfall is it has the tendency to peel and dry out your skin.
You can make the situation worse by buffing dry skin away using gritty exfoliants. Instead of using a harsh exfoliator, like exfoliating scrubs and sonic brushes, try using a muslin cloth to get rid of the dead skin gently.
- Retinol + Acne treatments
There are two ways retinol mixed with acne treatments can work against your skin. Firstly, there will be an increased potential irritation with combining retinoids with exfoliating acids like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic. Salicylic acid, for instance, works by helping the skin remove dead skin cells and decrease swelling and redness, but it can backfire on you if you mix it with retinol. The dryness and redness of your skin might get worse.
Secondly, there might be a matter of ingredient deactivation. For instance, benzoyl peroxide and retinol combo has the tendency to make each other ineffective and may result in an aggravated skin that’s not getting the products’ benefits.
- Citric Acid + Anything
Citric acid is primarily used to adjust the pH of skin care products, making the formula slightly more acidic. You use citric acid every day in your cleansers, soaps, moisturizers, toners, hair care products, and cosmetics without even knowing it, especially if it was only used as a pH adjuster.
However, Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Boston-based dermatologist explains that citric acid, when layered with other products, may cause irritation and allergic contact reactions. Well, this may sound a little tricky. If citric acid is directly specified on the label (e.g. 30% citric acid clarifying peel), do not use it with other skin care products.
Carmina Natividad is one of the daytime writers for The Australasian College of Health and Wellness, a government accredited educational institution specializing in the discipline of health science. She spends most of her time writing articles focused on aesthetics and overall health and wellness.