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Vitamin C and retinol are two of the most high-profile ingredients in the world of skincare, thanks to the powerful skin benefits both ingredients provide. Anti-ageing properties are some of the most sought-after effects from skincare users and both retinol and vitamin C are known to help maintain the appearance of youthful skin.

Given that both these ingredients can help lead to brighter, more even and younger-looking skin, it’s no surprise that questions arise about using retinol and vitamin C during your daily skincare routine steps. If you’ve been wondering ‘can you use retinol and vitamin C together?’, this is the skincare guide for you. We’ll cover the main skin benefits of retinol, vitamin C and the two ingredients when used together. You’ll also learn the best way to use these two ingredients as part of a cohesive skincare routine.

Understanding retinol and vitamin C

Vitamin C and retinol both have impressive reputations as powerful anti-ageing and complexion-evening skincare ingredients. Both of these ingredients are most often found in facial serums (read our article What is a Facial Serum?to learn what serums do).

Though the benefits of retinol and vitamin C have some overlap, there are important differences between the two ingredients. While sensitive skin can have a longer adaptation period to retinol, vitamin C can integrate slightly more easily with this skin type. Keep reading to learn about the unique benefits of retinol and vitamin C.

The benefits of retinol

Retinol is the name given to a type of vitamin A derivative and this ingredient falls into the broader category of retinoids. Retinol is known as one of the most powerful ingredients in the skincare world, which means the skin usually needs some time to adjust to this ingredient’s potent effects. This is also why it’s important to understand the best ways of using retinol and vitamin C together.

The list of potential benefits of retinol includes:

  • Speeding up skin cell turnover for more youthful-looking skin
  • Reducing the appearance of blemishes and enlarged pores
  • Evening skin tone
  • Refining skin texture
  • Helping to stimulate collagen production to minimise the look of lines and wrinkles

These impressive skin benefits demonstrate why using retinol in your skincare routine is worthwhile. There are retinol products suitable for all skin types, however those who experience sensitivity should read our guide to how to use retinol for sensitive skin.

The benefits of vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-ageing and skin brightening benefits. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties help protect against the harmful effects of free radicals which arise from daily encounters with pollution, sun exposure and more.

The benefits of vitamin C for skininclude:

  • Evening out skin tone
  • Targeting hyperpigmentation
  • Skin plumping
  • Balancing sebum (skin oil) production.
  • Minimising the look of wrinkles and lines
  • Promoting refined skin texture

Read our guides Does Vitamin C Help Acne-Prone Skin? and How to Best Use Vitamin C for Hyperpigmentation to learn how to gain optimal benefits from using vitamin C.

Can you use retinol and vitamin C together?

Yes, you can use retinol and vitamin C together, but there are certain precautions you’ll need to follow. Because retinol and vitamin C are both powerful, layering them over the top of each other at the same time increases the chance of unwanted reactions such as redness or tender sensations. We recommend using vitamin C in the morning to protect against daily pollution, then retinol at night to work while you sleep. Retinol also increases skin sun sensitivity, which supports the validity of this schedule. Ensure you apply a broad spectrum SPF daily as part of your morning skincare regime

Your CeraVe skincare routine using vitamin C and retinol

Knowing the benefits of these two ingredients, it’s now time to learn how to incorporate them into a cohesive skincare routine.

In the morning, cleanse and pat your skin dry right before applying a face serum containing vitamin C. Our CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum for Anti-ageing is also formulated with hyaluronic acid and ceramides to support skin hydration while providing all the benefits of vitamin C. Next, follow up with an SPF facial moisturiser like our CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with SPF 15 to prepare your skin for the day ahead. Apply SPF 50 for broad spectrum protection.

Considering that the best answer to ‘can you mix retinol and vitamin C?’ is to use one in the morning and one at night, we recommend cleansing and drying your face in the evening before applying a small amount of retinol serum. Our CeraVe Skin Renewing Retinol Anti-wrinkle Serum contains chicory root and three essential ceramides to support the skin. Read our guide for tips on how to apply retinol for beginners. Next, follow up with our CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream for Face with biometric peptides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid for further anti-ageing benefits

Now you know the answer to ‘can you use vitamin C with retinol?’, read our next guide about ingredients to use with ceramides.

It’s important to know how to integrate retinol into your regime to help your skin adjust to this powerful ingredient. Follow this simple skincare routine, balancing out your retinol serum with hydrating and comforting ingredients as suggested below.


Now you know the answer to ‘can you use vitamin C with retinol?’, read our next guide about ingredients to use with ceramides.

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