Many ingredients combined can make a heavenly skin recipe – others just don’t belong together. Mixing certain active ingredients can compromise the skin barrier and lead you down an uncomfortable path of inflammation, irritation and dehydration. But how do you know what does and doesn’t make the perfect skincare partner? Here we give you the lowdown on the art of skincare match-making...
Retinol and AHAs & BHAs
Retinol is a hero ingredient that boosts skin cell turnover, boosts collagen, supports sloughing of dead skin cells, and combats free radical activity to prevent cellular damage. To get nerdie, retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and natural precursor to retinoic acid. Once it’s absorbed into the skin, retinol is converted into retinoic acid, which is the active form of vitamin A, so the skin can reap the benefits of it.
Truth be told, retinol can cause sensitisation when paired with some ingredients including exfoliating acids such as AHAs and BHAs which, like retinol, promote the sloughing of dead skin cells. Using these ingredients in the same evening (you shouldn’t use either in the morning), you risk weakening the skin barrier which can manifest as redness, tight sensations and dehydration.
I recommend using these active ingredients on alternate evenings – or even alternate weeks if your skin is more sensitive. Notably, I would say that PHAs (polyhydroxy acids) are the exception to the rule as they’re a gentler AHA that both exfoliates the skin and acts as a humectant.