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October 07, 2020


There are so many fun pairings in life, a chilled glass of crisp rosé with a fresh green salad, high waisted jeans with a colorful midriff top, a smoky eye with a neutral lip. But when it comes to skincare, the risk of layering or pairing the wrong ingredients together can leave lasting, skin-deep effects. Breakouts, rashes, redness and excessive peeling and flaking are just some of the pitfalls of bad pairings!  

With the growing number of concentrated, active ingredient products on the market, it’s a good idea to know which products work best together, and which to avoid. Hyaluronic Acid and Vitamin C are some of the most popular skincare ingredients on the market right now. But should we be using them together, and if so, how should we layer HA and Vitamin C?  

Why You Should Apply Vitamin C First

Renowned for it’s brightening effects, elastin and collagen building, Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant. Use Vitamin C in the morning to help fight and protect against external damages. 

With its lower pH levels, Vitamin C absorbs readily into the skin, and works well followed by a moisturizer and SPF. Other acids, like alpha and beta hydroxy acids can be used with Vitamin C, but with caution, since when combined they can cause excessive exfoliation and over-drying of the skin.

Vitamin C in its purest, most potent form appears as L-Ascorbic Acid, such as 20% Vitamin C + E Ferulic Acid Serum, and for those with more sensitive skin, we recommend Hyaluronic Vitamin C Serum  which contains magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a less potent derivative of Vitamin C which still works to brighten and protect.  

Yes! HA can be combined with Vitamin C products or applied separately as the second layer of defense. 

While Hyaluronic Acid is still a water-based product, it is used to bind moisture to the skin and pump up moisture levels, so many Vitamin C products will already boast hyaluronic acid on their ingredient list. If you are using a specific HA hydrating serum, apply it after your Vitamin C serum. If you are using a pure line, such as Hyaluronic Acid Pure , it can also be combined with a moisturizer to help seal and fortify the skin barrier.  

Here are our top 3 rules of thumb to follow when combining skin care products together

1. It’s all about Balance - Start with the pH Level

One way to think about products, is to look at their pH balance. Your skin’s natural, healthy pH level sits around 4.5 – 5.5. Some products, like vitamin A or retinols as they are often called, and vitamin C should not be used together because vitamin C products work at a more acidic, lower pH (less than 3.5) while retinols are formulated at a much higher pH, over 5. Experts typically recommend using retinols exclusively at night because of their photosensitivity. 

2. Water and Oil – Which one floats to the top

Always use the water-based product first, to allow for maximum absorption, penetrating down into the skin. If you pour water and oil into a glass, the oil always floats to the top. Thicker, oil-based products serve as emollients, keeping the moisture locked in, and protecting the outer layer of the skin. 

3. Allow Time for each Product to Absorb

To avoid your products potentially pilling and having to start your routine all over again, allow time for each product to absorb. Lightly massage each product into the skin, without letting the skin completely dry. As you layer, make sure to allow at least 30 seconds up to a few minutes, depending on the product, before applying another product on top.