Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- What Is Glycolic Acid and How Does It Work?
- What Is Vitamin C and How Does It Work?
- Can Glycolic Acid Be Used With Vitamin C?
- How To Use Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C Together
- Benefits of Using Glycolic Acid With Vitamin C
Frequently Asked Questions+−
- What Not To Mix With Glycolic Acid?
- Can You Use Vitamin C With Other Acids?
- How Long Does It Take To See Results From Glycolic Acid?
You’ve been on your skin care game and have been itching to take your current routine to the next level. So you begin to dive into all of the different activated ingredients and specialty products you can try, incorporating them into your routine—like using glycolic acid and vitamin C together.
You read online about the amazing benefits that these two ingredients have on the skin. But, they still feel a bit outside of your comfort zone. You wonder, “are they actually good for my skin?” Or perhaps, “how do I use both of these in my regimen without stressing my skin out?” Well, we’ve got answers and are here to help! We’ll dive into the details of these two popular ingredients and cover key aspects, including how to use glycolic acid and vitamin C together and more.
What Is Glycolic Acid and How Does It Work?
Glycolic acid is a type of alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) derived from certain fruits, beets and sugarcane. It works by breaking down the glue that holds impurities together, which allows the skin to exfoliate dirt and flakes, revealing brighter and smoother skin.
However, while glycolic acid can be an effective exfoliant temporarily, it is important to note that this AHA can actually accelerate skin aging in the long haul by causing the skin to become thin and fragile. Overuse of this product can also lead to excessive dryness, irritation and disruption of the skin’s natural barrier, which can then even lead to an overproduction of oil.
But that shouldn’t stop you from using acids altogether. There are safer alternatives. Consider using lactic acid instead, which is considered a hydrating and the most non-irritating AHA. Even better, look for one derived from a high-quality honey source such as the Resurfacing Facial Exfoliant.
What Is Vitamin C and How Does It Work?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that plays a vital role in maintaining healthy-looking skin. Vitamin C can be derived from natural sources such as kakadu plums, oranges or other citrus fruits. There are plenty of benefits that vitamin C can bring to your skin and it works by enhancing the skin’s natural defenses and protecting the skin from daily environmental stressors.
Vitamin C is oftentimes considered the holy grail in many cases due to its versatility. You can use it to help with brightening, firming and evening the look of skin tone.
When looking at different types of vitamin C in skin care, it is important to look for products that are formulated with stable forms of vitamin C, and in the right pH range for optimal effectiveness. One of the issues with the most common form of vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid) is that it is easily oxidized—making it less effective. This vitamin C form also requires a lower pH to remain stable, which can pose a problem for those with sensitive skin.
For these reasons, we at Annmarie Skin Care love stable, oil-soluble vitamin C derivative, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THDA). It’s gentle, yet incredibly effective, and suitable for all skin types—making it the perfect choice for anyone looking to use more vitamin C in their beauty ritual.
Can Glycolic Acid Be Used With Vitamin C?
Now that you have some background on the two ingredients, you may be wondering, “can you layer glycolic acid and vitamin C together?” and “how do you use glycolic acid and vitamin C together?” As we covered above, we prefer to use lactic acid as our primary AHA rather than glycolic acid. But the general rule applies to all AHAs, whether you are using glycolic acid or lactic acid. Using an acid with vitamin C together in a single session is usually too harsh for the skin. Remember, AHAs and vitamin C are both considered activated ingredients and there is such a thing as overdoing it on the skin.
Rather than using these ingredients together, incorporate them into your routine in separate sessions and in lower concentrations or in gentler forms to work with the skin instead of against it.
But, which goes first vitamin C or glycolic acid? Typically, you’ll want to apply your acid of choice in the evening, as AHAs deeply exfoliate the skin. An evening application allows some time for the skin to rest and reduces exposure time to the sun. The next morning, you can apply your vitamin C product in your AM routine, but don’t forget the sunscreen! If possible, try to limit sun exposure 1-2 days after an AHA session.
How To Use Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C Together
You can use your glycolic acid (or other AHA product) in your evening routine and your vitamin C product the following morning. Unless you are working on a specific plan with your esthetician or healthcare professional that states otherwise, you don’t need to use your AHA every day—every other day or a few times a week is a good amount. Depending on which vitamin C product you’re using and how your skin responds, you may be able to use vitamin C daily. If you’re unsure, start with less (less concentration, less frequent use, fewer activated ingredients incorporated at a time) and always patch test.
See this sample routine below of how you could use your AHA (glycolic or lactic acid) and vitamin C together.
- Step 1: Cleanse
- Step 2: Exfoliate with AHA product (like our Resurfacing Facial Exfoliant)
- Step 3: Tone
- Step 4: Apply a gentle, hydrating serum
- Step 5: Moisturize with a facial oil
- Step 1: Cleanse
- Step 2: Tone
- Step 3: Apply vitamin C serum
- Step 4: Moisturize with a facial oil
- Step 5: Apply sunscreen
Alternative Morning Routine:
- Step 1: Cleanse
- Step 2: Tone
- Step 3: Apply a gentle, hydrating serum
- Step 4: Add 1-3 drops of THDA-rich Brighten Concentrated Boosting Elixir to facial oil for a vitamin C-boosted moisturizer
- Step 5: Apply sunscreen
Benefits of Using Glycolic Acid With Vitamin C
AHAs (glycolic or lactic acid) deeply exfoliate the skin to look polished, smooth and clear. Vitamin C protects skin from environmental stressors and brightens your complexion. When used together in beauty care (in separate sessions), AHAs and vitamin C work synergistically to provide a wide range of benefits for all skin types, especially for mature skin types.
Together, their properties could help improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a firmer, bouncier look and brighten the skin for a more even-toned glow. Incorporating these two types of ingredients can be an effective way to nourish and revitalize your skin, unveiling a radiant glow that’s been waiting to shine.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Not To Mix With Glycolic Acid?
It’s best to avoid mixing glycolic acid with other exfoliating agents, such as salicylic acid or retinol or retinol alternative, as this can cause irritation or dryness. Additionally, avoid using glycolic acid with products that have a higher pH, such as niacinamide and bar soaps, as this can neutralize the acid and reduce its effectiveness. Ideally, use lactic acid instead of glycolic acid as your primary AHA for the same exfoliation effects without irritation.
Can You Use Vitamin C With Other Acids?
It is generally safe to use vitamin C with other acids, such as lactic acid, as long as they are used in separate sessions and in the appropriate concentrations. As both are acidic, using them together in one session could irritate your skin. However, it is always recommended to consult with a skin care professional or a dermatologist for personalized advice.
How Long Does It Take To See Results From Glycolic Acid?
It is important to note that results may vary depending on individual skin type and condition. Some may see visible improvements within a week, while others may take several weeks or even months to see results. Consistency and patience is key when using an AHA (whether that be glycolic acid or safer, non-irritating lactic acid).
Using glycolic acid and vitamin C together can have a massive, positive effect on your skin — if done in the right way. Applying your glycolic acid product first to clear the skin, followed by your vitamin C product, means that both products can be as effective as possible.Can I use glycolic acid and vitamin C together on my face? ›
Experts recommend that, for the best results, you use glycolic acid first in your skincare routine and then apply products that contain Vitamin C. This gives your skin a chance to balance out and for the application of both ingredients to work their magic.Can I use glycolic acid in the morning with vitamin C? ›
Make sure to take things slow when you start combining glycolic acid and vitamin C in your skincare regimen—I recommend using these products in the evening and always finishing with moisturizer and SPF in the morning.What not to combine with glycolic acid? ›
Don't Mix: Retinol and Glycolic Acid
"While these products can be used with retinol-based products, you do not want to use these products one right after the other, particularly if you have sensitive skin," Dr. Imahiyerobo-Ip says.
Vitamin C plays a critical role in the production of collagen, and it maintains any collagen already present in the skin. By combining glycolic acid and vitamin C, you can reap the benefits of both ingredients in your daily routine.Is glycolic acid better than vitamin C for hyperpigmentation? ›
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology presented a comparative analysis between a Glycolic Acid peel and a Vitamin C peel. The results tipped the scales in favor of Glycolic Acid, which showed a more significant reduction in hyperpigmentation.