Skincare ingredients that should never be mixed together

Whether you are a beginner in the skincare game or already skincare obsessed – it is important to know which products go great together while others not so much. When I just started searching the internet to gain more knowledge about skincare and its ingredients, I quickly noticed that some products do not go well together. Combining some ingredients can cause irritation and redness, while other products cancel each other out. Continue to read and discover how to ace your skincare regime and get the most out of your products. 


Photo credit: The Inkey List

It didn’t take me long until I stumbled across retinol and shortly after, I realised it is a must-have and an effective ingredient to be used during the evening routine. This is a brilliant ingredient if you want to blur out fine lines, dark spots, acne scarring and uneven skin texture.

Note that there are different retinol strengths, starting from a low percentage to high! Beauty experts recommend starting using retinol in lower percentage, so your skin gets used to the active ingredients and then eventually start to slowly increase the concentration. I am currently using retinol from The Inkey List with 1% retinol and 0.5% Granactive Retinoidclick here to find out more

When to use: 

Retinol should be used during the evening routine and make sure to be followed by SPF during your AM skincare regime. 


Mix retinol with hydrating and moisturizing formulas such as Hyaluronic Acid and SPF. 


Avoid mixing retinol with other active ingredients such as Vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide, and AHA/BHA acids.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of my favourite products to use during my AM routine. Besides protecting your skin against pollution, environmental and sun damage – Vitamin C also brightens the skin, targets dark spots, smooths fine lines and makes the skin look youthful and radiate. Currently, I am using Vitamin C from The Inkey list.

When to use: 

­Vitamin C should be included in your daily skincare regime and should be applied before your moisturizer.  

Do: Vitamin C can be used with antioxidants (such as Vitamin E) and always make sure to follow up with SPF. 


Don’t combine Vitamin C with retinol, benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide as it will make the ingredients less effective. Also don’t layer AHAS/BHAS (like glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids) with Vitamin C as it will destabilise the pH balance and the active ingredients cancel each other out. 

AHA/ BHA Acids 


Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) and Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) are chemical exfoliants that help even out and get rid of dead cells and acne scarring. Over time, using AHA/ BHA products will make your skin look smoother and more youthful-looking. 

AHA/ BHA also hydrates the skin, unclogs pores and overall improves the skin texture. I have been using the BHA from Paula’s Choice and can really see a huge difference in my skin texture. 

When to use: 

AHA/ BHA Acids can be used both during your AM and PM skincare routine. 


Use AHA/ BHA with your moisturizer or other moisturizing ingredients and SPF (especially as AHA/BHA is sun sensitive). 


Avoid mixing AHA/BHA acids with retinol during your evening routine. Also do not use AHA/BHA acids with retinol during the same day. AHA/ BHA Acidsshould also be avoided to be used with Vitamin C. 

Benzoyl peroxide

If you are suffering from acne-prone skin, then benzoyl peroxide will be your BFF. Benzoyl peroxide has a drying ingredient and will dry out your acne. After using benzoyl peroxide, make sure to follow up with ultra-hydrating and a gentle moisturizer. 

Note benzoyl peroxide comes in different concentrations – some might tolerate benzoyl peroxide in higher percentage while others prefer lower concentration as it dries out the skin, and can lead to redness and excessive peeling. 

When to use: 

Benzoyl peroxide comes in different formats, such as lotions, face washes and gels – I would highly recommend following the information provided on the package to comprehend how often to use the ingredient.    

Do: Benzoyl peroxide can be used with hydrating ingredients, SPF, and topical antibiotics.

Don’t: Avoid combining retinol in your evening routine if you are already using benzoyl peroxide. 


Also known as Vitamin B3, Niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory and brightening ingredient that treats blemish-prone, scarred skin and helps reduce the visibility of pores. Niacinamide is suitable for rosacea-prone skin and helps the skin to improve its natural production of skin-strengthening ceramides. If you are suffering from dry skin, niacinamide also helps to boost the hydrating ability of moisturisers. 

When to use: 

Do: Niacinamide can be used both during your day and night skincare routine. 


Niacinamide shouldn’t be combined with Vitamin C as it might cause redness and trigger acne breakouts. 

Glycolic Acid

Photo credit: The Inkey List

Are you suffering from dull complexion? Then you will love glycolic acid! It’s known to be one of those miracle ingredients if you want more radiant glow. Glycolic acid belongs to the Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) family and targets to brighten, refine the skin texture and reverse signs of ageing. 

When to use: 

You can find glycolic acid in different products such as cleansers, serums and toners. If you have sensitive skin, start with a lower concentration of the ingredients and increase the dosage when your skin gets used to it. 


Glycolic acid can be included in your evening skincare regime and make sure to follow up with SPF during the day. 


Don’t use glycolic acid together with salicylic acid as it might lead to redness and other reactions.  

Salicylic acid

Photo credit: The Inkey List

If you are also suffering from breakouts, salicylic acid is a must-have in your skincare routine. Salicylic acid belongs to the BHA family and is an anti-inflammatory ingredient that also helps to minimise blackheads and whiteheads.

When to use: 

Just like other products, salicylic acid comes in different formats such as cleanser and serums, it also has different dosages and overusing salicylic acid can lead to dryness. Start with a lower percentage to build your skin’s tolerance and eventually work yourself to a higher percentage if necessary. 


Salicylic acid can be used in your evening and day routine. If applied during the day, make sure to follow up with SPF 30 or higher. 


Avoid combining salicylic acid with glycolic acid as the active ingredients might be too harsh on the skin and lead to irritation.

I hope you find this blog post insightful and helpful – if you have any questions or feedback, please do not hesitate to contact me on or DM me on Instagram @tarasamvi.


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