With the rise in popularity of Korean skincare techniques, layering different products from different brands has officially become the “it” thing to do to get a flawless glowing complexion. If you don’t already layer your skin care, it’s a good idea to start. Dermatologists say it holds in more active ingredients against your skin, ensuring every product you use works better.

Whilst layering skincare products can make each of the active ingredients you use more effective, some combinations can do the exact opposite; and when two ingredients clash, it’s your skin that will inevitably pay the price. So to make sure you’re never caught up in the messy aftermath of product layering gone wrong, here’s a basic list of ingredients that should not be mixed under any cost.



Vitamin C is very pH sensitive, and mixing it with AHAs tends to destabilise it and substantially diminish its delivery within the skin. If you’re wearing a serum with glycolic acid, choose serums with more durable antioxidants, like polyphenols and resveratrol.

RETINOL + ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (glycolic, malic and lactic acids)

This duo is a recipe for disastrous redness, irritation and hypersensitivity. There’s also the matter of ingredient deactivation. Like vitamin C, retinol can be somewhat unstable. Alpha hydroxy acids oxidise retinoids making them less effective. So, you could end up with aggravated skin without even reaping the benefits of your products.

RETINOL + ACNE TREATMENTS (salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide)

Using salicylic acid and retinol at the same time can cause significant dryness and irritation. However mixing benzoyl peroxide with retinol has the opposite effect: The two ingredients have been shown to deactivate each other, rendering each other useless.


To avoid inflaming your skin, don’t layer multiple retinols. It’s more than likely that you’ll do more harm than good if you apply a retinol serum and top it with retinol cream.

All in all, just be very careful with your skincare and always do a patch test when introducing a new product in to your routine. Give your skin four to six weeks to adjust to the new product and if you’re getting abnormal or unsatisfactory results then you might need to reconsider.

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