how to mix active ingredients

How to mix your active ingredients for maximum effect

So now you have a lovely skincare routine full of a handful of active ingredients, and how do you mix them?

Fear not, I am here to help you understand what to pair and what to definitely not pair. But if you’re in a hurry here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t mix irritants with more irritants!

And always add a sunscreen !

How to mix active ingredients


Retinoids are the powerhouse of any routine. They can diminish fine lines, reduce breakouts, tackle hyperpigmentation, and make your skin texture smoother. It works by promoting higher skin cell turnover rates. But it is an ingredient that can cause a lot of irritation so it’s only right to know how to mix it with other active ingredients.

DO Retinoids+moisturising ingredients: adding hyaluronic acid or ceramides to your retinol routine will greatly help to reduce irritation and keep the skin barrier strong. You can “dampen” the effects of retinol by applying a humectant first and then seal in the moisture with an oil-based product.

DON’T Retinoids + acids: as retinoids work on skin cell turnover the last thing you want is to add another product that will exfoliate your skin. This will further destroy your skin barrier and make your skin a hot red mess. Avoid any AHA/BHAs and vitamin c.

Also, don’t forget that to preserve the lasting effects of retinoids or your skincare routine in general, you will need to religiously wear SPF every day, even in winter, even indoors, WEAR YOUR SUNSCREEN. More about what and how here.


Niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3. It is an amazing ingredient that anyone can use and profit from. It will reduce inflammation, strengthen the skin barrier, balance sebum production and even target hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide will soothe the skin if you use any other ingredient that will irritate it. It also pairs perfectly with other hydrating and repairing products. It works perfectly with retinoids, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHA/BHA.

Many posts are saying to not mix vitamin C and Niacinamide as they will cancel each other out. There is a fear that any type of acid will cause Niacinamide to transform into niacin. However, niacinamide is tougher than it looks. It converts into niacin only in cases of extreme and prolonged heat. And I’m not talking body heat, but extreme heat. So it’s perfectly ok to use these two together. In fact, you will see the two ingredients paired in the same product.


Antioxidants are fantastic ingredients that protect our skin from external aggressors such as pollution, dust, cigarette smoke and more. Scientifically speaking, they protect us from free radicals which are unstable molecules that, to stabilize themselves, will steal an electron from our cells, which in turn will destabilize our own cell and it will just destroy it. Are you with me?

Here I want to specifically talk about vitamin C and how to mix it with other ingredients. As I said earlier, it’s perfectly fine to use it with niacinamide but not with retinoids.

What vitamin C pairs with best is sunscreen. The first cause of premature skin ageing is that shining blob in the sky. Sunscreen, if applied regularly and diligently, will protect us from this damage. However, sunscreen can only protect us from around 55% of free radicals. This is where and antioxidant comes into work. By using vitamin C in your morning routine, and pairing it with a sunscreen, you will increase the protection from free radicals to 78%!


Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid or mandelic acid, and many more, are effective ingredients that exfoliate your skin, reduce hyperpigmentation, breakouts,

Glycolic acid and vitamin C seem to be a power duo. While previously we talked about vitamin C as an antioxidant, it also decreases hyperpigmentation. Used in conjunction with glycolic acid both will increase collagen production, smooth the skin texture and reduce melanin production.

Just like with retinol, you can dampen the effects of your exfoliating AHA and BHA products by adding in moisturising and soothing products such as hyaluronic acid, panthenol and even niacinamide.

Hyaluronic Acid

The king of humectants, you can mix hyaluronic acid with just about any active ingredients. Within 15 minutes of application, it will plump your skin and with continued use, it will diminish the signs of ageing. Hyaluronic acid can bind over one thousand times its weight in water and it is already present in our body.

HA and vitamin C are another power duo that can complement each other perfectly. Both ingredients will work to diminish signs of ageing, increase collagen and elastin production. Another perfect duo is HA and peptides which will act in the same manner, to plump the skin and diminish the signs of ageing.

Although you can mix and match so many ingredients together (or not), it all comes down to your skincare goals. If you’re fighting acne you can add niacinamide and vitamin c, if you’re fighting signs of ageing you can add HA and vitamin C. It’s all about what you’re targeting.

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