How To Use Vitamin C Serum And Retinol To Reap Amazing Benefits

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You must be familiar with retinol and vitamin C serum if you’re a skincare lover. These two ingredients are touted to be the best in the market. If you don’t want to choose between the two ingredients, here is a guide on how to use vitamin C serum and retinol in your routine.

These products work to improve the appearance of the skin even when you use them correctly. Likewise, they can also irritate your skin if you misuse them.

A proper layering method is necessary when using vitamin C serum and retinol on the skin. This article provides a complete guide on how to use both products on your skin without irritating it.

How to use vitamin C serum and retinol

Using retinol and vitamin C together in your skincare is beneficial but only if you use them together properly. You can either separate them into different routines in the day or allow your skin to absorb one before trying the other.

This will help you avoid messing with your skin’s pH balance and also help to prevent side effects.

1. Apply vitamin C in your AM routine and retinol in your PM routine

This is a safe way to use the two ingredients together on your skin without triggering side effects. Doing this gives your skin time to restore its pH balance between the application of the products.

Now vitamin C is best applied in the morning because of its antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties serve as a protective layer on the skin to shield it against environmental pollution and other factors.

Additionally, it also protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet radiations and the effects they have on the skin. Therefore, apply your vitamin c serum in the morning after cleansing and toning your face. Follow the steps with a moisturizer to keep your skin from drying out.

Retinol is also best applied at night as it makes the skin extra sensitive to the sun. Applying retinol products on your skin during the day puts the skin at risk of sun damage.

Use your retinol serum at night to help tighten your skin and reduce the appearance of aging signs and other blemishes while you sleep.

2. Use retinol one night and vitamin C serum the next

This is the safest way to reap the benefits of both retinol and vitamin C serum, especially if you have sensitive skin. This will prevent the risk of irritation or inflammation on the skin.

Apply your retinol serum one night as you would normally and switch to vitamin c serum the next night. This will help to regulate your skin’s pH level while you switch between the two ingredients. You’ll begin to notice your skin become firm and radiant in no time.

3. Allow vitamin C serum to absorb then apply retinol

Since vitamin C has a lower pH level than retinol, you should apply it first. This method only requires you to wait for your skin to absorb the vitamin C serum completely before applying retinol.

It takes only about 30 minutes for the skin to return to its regular pH after absorbing the vitamin C serum. Once this is achieved, you can now apply retinol to work on the skin. This way, your skin won’t be loaded with too much acid.

Other application guides on using retinol and vitamin C in skincare

1. Start off slowly

It is important to start the application of any skincare ingredient or product slowly. Introduce new ingredients to the skin and take note of how your skin reacts to them, especially when it comes to active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C.

These two ingredients can be intense on the skin. The usage frequency of these ingredients depends solely on how much your skin can tolerate.

2. Always wear sunscreen

90% of premature skin aging happens because of exposure to the sun. That is why sunscreen is an essential part of every skincare routine.

This will not only prevent premature aging but will also help to prevent skin cancer that can happen from exposing the skin to ultraviolet radiation. Retinol exfoliates the skin and this increases the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet radiations of the sun.

Even though vitamin C contains antioxidant properties, it can’t work alone to protect the skin from sun damage. Therefore, you should always use SPF 30 sunscreen in your routine.

3. Avoid using harsh ingredients

You may be tempted to combine BHAs and AHAs with retinol and vitamin Serum in your skincare routine, but it is best to refrain from doing so.

You shouldn’t use them together in the same routine, as combinations of active ingredients can irritate and cause skin inflammation.  

4. Ensure you keep your skin hydrated

The skin needs moisture and adequate hydration to function properly. Hydrating the skin helps to keep the skin plump and smooth, therefore, hydration is key in every skincare routine.

Retinol is known to have a drying effect on the skin. It also removes old skin cells from the skin to show new ones. All these are reasons why you need to hydrate your skin while using retinol on it. Even though vitamin C prevents water loss from the skin, your skin still needs to be moisturized.

Can you use retinol and vitamin C with hyaluronic acid?

Yes, you can use retinol and vitamin C serum with hyaluronic acid in your skincare routine. This is because the skin needs extra hydration after the use of retinol, which has a drying effect on the skin.

Using hyaluronic acid while you combine retinol and vitamin c in your skincare routine will help to draw and keep moisture on the skin. This will help to prevent the skin from drying out.

How to use vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and retinol serums

Here’s how to use vitamin C and retinol with hyaluronic acid in your skincare routine: 

1. Cleanse and tone your skin

Use a gentle cleanser to wash your skin—to remove dirt and other grime from the skin. After cleansing your skin with the cleanser, apply a natural toner on your face to double-cleanse your skin. This will help to remove stubborn dirt from sticking to the skin.

2. Use either vitamin C or retinol serum

For your morning routine, apply a few drops of vitamin C serum over your face to nourish and lighten your skin. For your bedtime routine, apply a few drops of retinol serum to your skin to repair your skin and clear out dark spots while you sleep.

3. Use your hyaluronic acid serum

Use your hyaluronic acid a few minutes after using either vitamin C or retinol serum on your skin. Doing so will help to strengthen the skin’s barrier and keep moisture in.

4. Moisturize

Use a moisturizer that contains sunscreen of SPF 30 to moisturize your skin and protect it from damage. It will also prevent the drying effect of using retinol on the skin.

Frequently asked questions

how to use vitamin c serum and retinol

Can you mix vitamin C serum with retinol?

No, you can’t.

Mixing the retinol serum with vitamin C can cancel out the ingredient. Likewise, vitamin C serum will get oxidized when it is mixed with another liquid formula.

Follow the recommended methods of combining retinol with vitamin C serum in this article to enjoy the benefits of both ingredients.

Should you apply hyaluronic acid before and after using retinol?

Yes, you can.

This is called the sandwich method and doing it will help to prevent retinol from drying out your skin. If you have sensitive skin and would like to enjoy retinol serum, apply hyaluronic acid serum first, then retinol, and finish up by applying hyaluronic acid serum again.

Can you apply retinol serum in the morning?

Yes, you can.

You can use retinol in your morning skincare routine. However, it is not recommendable to do that as it can put the skin at risk of sun damage.

Except you plan to stay indoors throughout the day, avoid using retinol serum during the day. Stick to using it in your bedtime skincare routine.


Vitamin C and retinol are skincare ingredients that are well known for their anti-aging benefits. Despite their numerous benefits to the skin, they tend to be harsh on the skin, especially for first-timers.

You can use retinol and vitamin C serum on your skin without experiencing any side effects. Simply follow the guide in this article to learn how to combine the two ingredients safely on your skin.

Thanks for reading.

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