Your Skin Care Routine: What to Mix and What to Avoid


Your skincare routine is likely loaded with a barrage of serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens. After all, a well-ordered skin care routine ensures that we get the most out of our products, which is why we use them in the first place. But, with all of the different ingredients available, choosing the right ones to combine to get all of those benefits – like anti-aging, brightening, acne removal – can be quite a challenge.

To make sure you combine all the best ingredients and avoid the pitfalls of skin care, we spoke to two dermatologists to find out how to expertly plan your routine.

Below are all of the skin care ingredients you shouldn’t and absolutely should, along with some expert-recommended options to buy.

Ingredients that you must not use together

When creating a skin care routine, it’s important to make sure that you don’t combine products that will cause more harm than good. Dr Scott Pavol from Pavol dermatology explains to Shop TODAY that there are a few different ingredients that should not be used together – primarily retinol or other strong exfoliators.

Retinol and AHA or BHA

The exfoliating effects of retinol, AHAs and BHAs can be too drying for the skin when used all together, advises Paviol. “If your routine contains AHA / BHA in addition to retinol, wait about an hour to use your retinol after applying AHA / BHA.”

Retinol and benzoyl peroxide

you don’t need to use benzoyl peroxide, which is typically used to treat acne, and retinol together, Paviol explains. The ingredients can negate each other’s positive effects and leave the skin extremely dry and itchy.

Retinol and vitamin C

When used together, Paviol explains, these two ingredients decrease the potency of each other. “Because vitamin C is formulated at a low pH and retinol is formulated with a high pH, ​​when used together, the pH of vitamin C increases and the pH of retinol decreases. He further explains that overall, it is best to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol in the evening to ensure maximum effectiveness of both.

Ingredients you should use together

To get the most out of your skin care, certain ingredients work best when combined. Pavol and Dr Jeannette Graf, a certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, assesses the ingredients that help improve the overall effectiveness of each product.

Retinol and hyaluronic acid

When combined, hyaluronic acid helps reduce potential side effects and sensitivities from using retinol, an exfoliating synthetic derivative of vitamin A, Paviol explains. The same goes for all acids. However, using an AHA or BHA and retinol at the same time can be harmful to your skin.

“AHA, BHA, retinol and benzoyl peroxide can be mixed with moisturizing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides and rosehip oil for effective results. .

PCA Intensive Brightening Treatment

Paviol recommends this nighttime retinol treatment, which contains 0.5% pure retinol to help lighten skin and even out discoloration.

PCA Hyaluronic Acid Booster Serum

A few drops of this serum will leave your skin smoother and hydrated. Although a little more expensive, Paviol recommends it because with use over time it will work effectively deep into the layers of your skin to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

Ceramides and Niacinamide

Ceramides help increase the skin’s barrier function and improve moisture retention, says Dr. Paviol, while niacinamide improves pore size and skin texture. When you combine the two, the benefits of both complement each other, giving you soft, glowing, and even skin.

PCA B3 Brightening Serum

The main ingredient in this serum, niacinamide, works to get rid of fine lines, hyperpigmentation, sun damage, redness, and more. This is why Paviol recommends it to obtain a more luminous and hydrated complexion.

Skin Inc Ceramide Serum

Loved by Paviol, this hydrating serum uses four different types of ceramides to soothe redness and irritation and strengthen your skin’s protective barrier. It can also be easily layered with other serums.

Vitamin C and vitamin E (including ferulic acid)

In case you didn’t know, Vitamin C is the antioxidant powerhouse in the skin care world. However, explains Dr. Paviol, the ingredient is actually very unstable and needs other ingredients to make it most effective. “Ingredients like Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid help stabilize this brightening ingredient to ensure your skin receives the best from Vitamin C.”

SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum

This cult serum recommended by Paviol uses ferulic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E to protect your skin from free radicals that cause premature aging. In addition to antioxidant protection, the serum is also known to firm the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten your complexion.

Vitamin C and SPF

When you combine antioxidants with SPF, says Graf, the antioxidants stabilize SPF, making it more effective. Vitamin C provides antioxidant protection against environmental stressors, also called free radicals, which cause increased signs of aging, while SPF is essential for protecting against harmful UVB rays. “When layered, vitamin C and SPF are the perfect pair to keep your skin protected throughout the day,” says Paviol.

PCA C / E Advanced

Paviol recommends this lightweight Vitamin C and Vitamin E treatment because it works deep below the surface to effectively nourish and reduce fine lines, discoloration, and free radical damage. Moreover, it will give your skin a magnificent glow of health.

Drops Saint Jane C

Graf advises using these vitamin C drops to combat the signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. The serum is created with over 20% vitamin C to ensure maximum penetration into the deepest layers of the skin.

SkinCeuticals UV Defense Large Spectrum SPF 50 Physical Fusion

Designed to blend evenly without any white melt or residue, this lightweight formula provides SPF 50+ protection. And it gives off a universal shade that sublimates the complexion and boosts radiance, which is why Paviol loves it.

ISDIN Eryfotona Actinica

This lightweight sunscreen is perfect for everyday use, says Graf. Created with eyfotona actinica, it penetrates quickly into the skin and leaves you with SPF 50+ protection.

Niacinamide and salicylic acid

Since salicylic acid is soluble, it easily penetrates pores to loosen dirt, oil, and debris, Paviol explains. At the same time, niacinamide reduces sebum production by decreasing the production of glycerides and fatty acids from the surface sebum. Together, they reduce pore size, lighten skin, and improve skin texture.

Regular Salicylic Acid – 2% Salicylic Acid Solution

This TikTok viral treatment solution uses salicylic acid to exfoliate pores and remove blemishes. Paviol recommends using this serum in conjunction with the PCA B3 Brightening Serum, which has niacinamide as its fourth ingredient, for the best results.

Ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids

These three lipids are essential for the barrier function of your skin and for the overall improvement of hydration. “Therefore, you must have all three for repairing barriers; using one or two of this trio can actually delay barrier repair, ”explains Paviol.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restoration

Infused with all three essential lipids, this anti-aging treatment helps repair the elasticity, uneven texture and appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Paviol recommends the fast absorbing formula for a whole host of healthy ingredients that leave you with tons of benefits.

Vitamin C and glycolic acid

“Glycolic acid enhances the benefits of vitamin C by eliminating dead skin cells on the surface”, explains Paviol. This prepares your skin for vitamin C to speed up cell turnover, which is essential for smooth, glowing skin, he says.

Murad Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum

By fusing glycolic acid and vitamin C, this serum improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone. Created with a Vita-C complex, it also offers antioxidant protection and helps the skin absorb ingredients more effectively.

Retinol and Peptides

When you use retinol, Paviol explains, “you also benefit from the collagen-boosting effects of vitamin A.” What’s more, retinol also works to improve the penetration of peptide creams and serums, which can help improve skin firmness, and when combined, you improve efficiency.

Drunk Elephant Protini Polypeptide Cream

By fusing peptides and amino acids, this moisturizer is also known to improve skin tone and texture. Paviol recommends using it in conjunction with the rich retinol PCA Intensive Brightening Treatment to improve hydration.


Although the majority of people shy away from using both acids, your skin can gain major benefits if they are properly layered or in a product containing both. Some of these benefits, doctors shared, include keeping your skin glowing and reducing hyperpigmentation, oil production, and superficial fine lines and wrinkles.

The ordinary AHA 30% + 2% BHA peel solution

Created with AHA and BHA, Paviol recommends this combination product as his first choice. The water-based rinse treatment is intended to improve texture irregularities, dullness and clogged pores.

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