5 Mins Read
Retinol is no ordinary skincare ingredient. Proven to be the most effective over-the-counter anti-ageing ingredient, it also works on acne and acne-prone skin, improving hyperpigmentation, breakouts, unclogging pores and leaving skin looking smoother and clearer. It even boosts elasticity.
Yet there's a fear factor around Retinol - especially when it comes to knowing what else you can combine it with in your skincare routine, with both current fans and the Retinol-curious asking:
We asked Dr. Andrew C Markey MD FRCP (BEAUTY PIE's consultant dermatologist and aesthetic medicine expert) to run us through the dos and don’ts of combining Retinol with other ingredients.
Whether you’re wondering which Retinol product to start with, or are looking to ramp up your Retinol regime with a smart skincare sidekick (or two) – slow release encapsulated Retinol is high performance, fuss-free and designed to be layered. "Scrubs, masks, and treatments and active capsules and other fun items can be layered in later – if you move from a low maintenance Super Retinol routine to say, medium or high." – Marcia Kilgore, BEAUTY PIE Founder.
"Yes – in fact, many dermatologists recommend buffering sensitive skin with (anti-inflammatory) Niacinamide before applying Retinol,” says Dr. Andrew Markey.
"Absolutely. Hyaluronic acid is a moisturising must-have – and the perfect 'plus one' for any active skincare ingredient, including Retinol. In fact, it’s one of skincare’s most effective power couples (see also: Vitamin C)."
"Yes! Studies show that combining Vitamin C with Vitamin A (Retinol) may help stabilise Retinol," says Dr. Andrew Markey. Alternate their use (Vitamin C in the morning and then Retinol in the evening) or up the efficiency and opt for Super Retinol (+ Vitamin C) Night Renewal Moisturiser which contains a powerful Vitamin C ester.
And - absolutely crucial - always add SPF, daily!
Dermatologists remain divided as to what extent Acids and Retinols can be combined in the same skincare routine. While both AHA (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids i.e. Glycolic Acid) & BHA (Beta-Hydroxy Acids i.e. Salicylic Acid) are safe to combine with over-the-counter strength Retinol, general consensus is to err on the side of caution and avoid mixing – particularly if you have reactive, sensitive skin.
"As ingredients – both Retinoids and Acids are irritants, and as such overuse can make irritation more problematic," says Dr. Andrew Markey. “However, Retinoids used in the right way, with the right strength and the right routine can safely be used with Acids. There is even good evidence that combining them works well.”
Prioritise your Retinoids – think of them as the ‘master active’ – and get that routine right first. Then – if necessary – think about adding in Acids. Most dermatologists would recommend Retinol usage for PM, and AHAs, BHAs or antioxidants for AM. And always use sunscreen.
- Dr. Andrew Markey.
Experts recommend you only combine Retinol and Acids in the same routine if advised to do so by a dermatologist, otherwise:
Pick ONE for your regular skincare routine, and ONE for a weekly (or even monthly) skincare treatment.
Swap out any acid-containing products to avoid reactions on Retinol days.
Avoid Retinol if you’re on prescription Keratolytics (prescription skin resurfacers) or Benzoyl Peroxides.
**Do not use Retinols if you are pregnant, breastfeeding or are already using a prescription Keratolytic from your dermatologist. Speak to a dermatologist if you are worried about any side effects of using Retinol.**
Reviewed by Consultant Dermatologist Dr Andrew C Markey MD FRCP.