Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Apply Together

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If you are reading this you are probably already a fanatical skincare junkie like us here at Skinstation that loves mixing skincare and layering products. Mixing ingredients is a highly effective way of getting more ‘bang for your buck’ and making sure your skincare ingredients are working to their maximum potential. By layering product on top of product you are locking in those ingredients, allowing your skin time to fully absorb more of those effective ingredients, and boosting efficiency. If you aren’t already layering your skincare products, now is definitely the time to start! 

However, this is a big however… mixing some skincare products like your in science class again can result in your skincare products becoming ineffective or potentially harmful to your complexion, even if all of your skincare products are good for your skin on their own. Whilst some combinations simply neutralise each other's effectiveness, other combinations when layered together become too potent and harmful.

Here are a few skincare ingredient combinations that you should avoid layering together…


Retinol, also known as Vitamin A, is one of the most loved skincare ingredients that dermatologists rave about, and for very good reason. Retinol when used correctly can do wonders for your complexion, including the promotion of skin cell turnover which helps to reduce acne, dark spots, skin texture, fine lines and wrinkles. However, retinol can be very drying on the skin and leave your complexion even more vulnerable to the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays. For this reason, when you are using retinol, layer it with moisturising ingredients such as hyaluronic acids and diligently applying sunscreen.

However, retinol can cause skin irritation and exacerbate dry skin so when using this skincare product, steer clear of other potentially irritating skincare such as AHA and BHA acids. Also avoid using benzoyl peroxide otherwise your well intentioned application of retinol will cancel each other out and render them both ineffective. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C can pack a powerful punch when incorporated into your skincare regimen correctly. Vitamin C protects your skin from free radical damage, lightens dark spots and can leave you with an overall bright complexion. When layered with Vitamin E, another antioxidant, you will only boost its effectiveness. Similarly with SPF, when layered with Vitamin C you will be creating an extra protective barrier between your skin and the harmful UVA and UVB rays.

However, to remain effective, the pH level of Vitamin C needs to remain stable, and when layered with AHA and BHA acids it will become deactivated. The acidic will destabilize the pH of the Vitamin C and render your lovely skincare product ineffective. More importantly, avoid layering Niacinamide with Vitamin C as the Niacinamide will cancel out all of the good properties in the Vitamin C, resulting in a skincare product that will leave you with acne breakouts and redness.

Oil Based Skincare + Water Based Skincare

This skincare tip really is throwing it back to high school science lessons; oil and water do not mix and neither will your skincare products. Whilst this tip won’t leave your skin feeling sensitive or red if ignored, it will mean some of your glorious skincare products may be going to waste. If you are using an oil based product in the beginning of your skincare routine, you will be leaving an invisible film on your complexion. Whilst this is great for locking in your previous skincare products and retaining moisture, any subsequent water based products will be prevented from absorbing. So avoid mixing the two in this order!


One of the most effective skincare products that we rave about here at Skinstation is daily SPF. SPF will protect your skin from sun damage, preventing a whole host of skin issues such as premature ageing, sun spots, fine lines, wrinkles and even skin cancer. However, there are a few things to avoid when applying your daily sunscreen to ensure it remains effective. Whilst sunscreen can (and should) be mixed with every skincare routine, avoid mixing your sunscreen with anything else such as foundation or moisturiser and applying them as one. This is one shortcut that will not pay off. Ensure you apply your daily SPF as one single layer to ensure it remains effective and protects your skin from sun damage. 

Latest update: 19/03/2021
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