Common Skincare Ingredients: What you can mix and what to avoid

Okay, let’s be honest here: do you really check the ingredients on the back of their skincare products? If you’re one of the few that do, do you know what you’re looking for? And what to avoid?

Woman applying skincare

Our team of professionally certified skin & dermal therapists are equipped with the training and knowledge of what products do and don’t work well together, and are able to design you a customised skincare regime that is not only tailored to your skin needs, but also avoiding any ineffective or potentially irritating combinations.

It’s very easy to go a little ‘skin crazy’ and build your own home skincare routine based on the promises that products make, but it’s important to get educated on what you should and shouldn’t be mixing. The last thing you want to do is to overstimulate your skin. 


One thing to keep in mind, is that you can certainly use a variety of products. You simply need to be aware of what you are mixing ‘during an individual skincare session’. These tips only apply to a ‘single session’, so no need to throw those additional products in the bin,  you can still use a variety of products, just be mindful to use them at different times of the day or alternate throughout the week.

Below are a list of commonly used skincare ingredients, with a guide on what to mix them with and what to avoid:


Vitamin C, which also goes by ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a wonderful ingredient.

Key Benefits: 

-Promotes collagen production

-Brightens dull skin

-Fades pigmentation

-Is an antioxidant, protecting the skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure

What to mix it with:

Do mix with antioxidants, Vitamin E, ferulic acid and SPF

What to AVOID mixing it with:

Don’t mix Vitamin C with retinol, AHA’s & BHA’s or Niacinamide

Mixing Vitamin C with Retinol (Vitamin A) can cause irritation and redness. Vitamin C also thrives in the day time, whereas Retinol prefers the night, so keep those two apart. 

Also, don’t mix it with AHA’s and BHA’s. Vitamin C is essentially an acid, so layering them is not recommended. It can make the acidity levels in your skin too high and cause irritation.

Lastly, avoid mixing with Niacinamide - whilst both are great for blemish prone & scarring skin, Niacinamide cancels out the work that Vitamin C does.


Also known as Vitamin B3

Key Benefits:

An anti-inflammatory, brightening ingredient that can help even out discolouration 

What to mix it with:

Mix Niacinamide with almost any ingredient. 

What to avoid mixing it with: Vitamin C

As mentioned above, avoid mixing Niacinamide with Vitamin C. They’re similar antioxidants, but diminish their abilities when used directly after each other.


Also known as Vitamin A.

Key Benefits:


Stimulates collagen production

Accelerates cell turnover 

Smooths fine lines and wrinkles

Regulates oily skin and minimises breakouts

What to mix it with:

Mix with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides and SPF.

What to avoid mixing it with: AHA’s, BHA’s, Benzoyl Peroxide, Vitamin C & Retinol

Mixing Retinol with AHA’s and BHA’s can cause dryness from overstimulation. Retinol encourages cell turnover to get rid of old and damaged cells, whilst AHA’s & BHA’s exfoliate. Avoid using them together.

Avoid mixing Benzoyl Peroxide and Retinol. Both are used to prevent breakouts. Benzoyl peroxide is great for inflammatory acne, but can inactivate topical retinol. 

As mentioned above, mixing Vitamin C with Retinol can cause irritation and redness. Let Retinol work its wonders overnight and save your Vitamin C for the morning.

Don’t layer multiple Retinols. To ensure that you avoid inflaming your skin, only use one at a time. This means that you should avoid using a Retinol cream/moisturiser if your serum already has Retinol.


Acids including Salicylic, glycolic, and lactic acids.

Key Benefits:


-Can decrease inflammation

-Decrease the appearance of large pores and surface wrinkles

-Evens out your skin tone

-Improves overall skin texture

-Removes dead skin cells

What to mix it with:

Similar to retinol, mix these with hydrating ingredients and SPF. Moisturising with these will help to minimise any irritation. Look for products containing ingredients such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to hydrate and soothe skin.

What to avoid mixing it with: Retinol, Benzoyl Peroxide & Vitamin C

As we mentioned above, AHA/BHA Acids are amazing to boost skin renewal, but they can be strong serums and contribute to overly high acid levels in your skin.

ALSO, avoid mixing Oil Based + Water Based products

Why: Oil repels water, leaving a layer of film that will stop water based products absorbing. 


Overall, this sounds like a lot. The bottom line however is not to overdo your skincare and to ensure you are educated on what works well together and what doesn’t. 

You can of course use a variety of ingredients, but it’s important to use them on different days or times of the day if they don’t work well with your other products. Space out your routine to give your skin the maximum benefit.

Need more assistance? Our team can help curate your own personalised skin care regime. Book in for a consultation here.