Combining skin care ingredients the right way – Ask Doctor Anne

There are a few questions that I get asked over and over again in the comments, and I figured instead of answering them all individually, I’d turn them into a video series that I’m going to call “Ask Doctor Anne” – which I think sounds pretty catchy! First topic: How to combine Ingredients the right way! Are there ones that you should never combine? Are there some that actually enhance each other? Does that depend on concentration, time of the day, texture, Formulation? There are a ton of questions that need answering which is why this is going to be a three part miniseries: 1. Which ingredients can I safely combined with retinoids? 2. Which ingredients can I safely combine with vitamin C? and, What we’re going to start with today, 3. The basic rules of mixing skincare ingredients! Hi. I’m doctor Anne. I’m a medical doctor with a passion for skincare that works. On this channel we explore the science behind skin and do quick reviews So you learn to pick exactly those products that work for your individual skin concern. If this is something you’re interested in, please consider subscribing and Ring the notification bell! To better understand what I’m talking about I’m going to follow the commonly accepted division between active skincare ingredients like acids, retinoids, vitamin C, and other ingredients like humectants, emollients, occlusives. This does by no means mean that these are less important in a skincare routine, actually Humectants are one of the best things that you can do for your skin, But they tend to be less reactive so they can usually be mixed without problems. The first question I want to address is: Why combine skincare ingredients in the first place? And I think that’s a really important question! In recent years we have seen a “More is better” approach to skincare, be it a Korean 10-step skincare routine, be it different Influencers mixing five different serums on their face, and this is a trend that I actually think is not beneficial for us. Our skin doesn’t need everything. It just needs a few things. I think for the majority of people a basic cleanser, a basic moisturizer, a good SPF and then one, two, Maybe three if you are my age, serums with different actives that tackle your individual skin concerns are Enough. And because I think that you don’t need to use all the actives every day I think there is more than enough space to space them out in your routine Without having to risk any adverse reactions with mixing them anyway. Because I know most of you are not going to listen to this basic advice, Let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to combine your skincare ingredients like a pro! The basic rule is: If you can get it over the counter, You can mix it. The ingredients that you can buy without prescription are usually designed in a way that they don’t react with other things or With your skin in a harmful way. With one exception: Just because you can mix something doesn’t mean that you should mix something, Because actives do have an active Step. They do something on your skin, like they exfoliate and if you combine not one, but two, or maybe even three irritating and exfoliating ingredients, that will do damage to your skin. Not because the Ingredients per se can’t be mixed, because it’s more than your skin can handle. If I talk about combining skincare ingredients, I talk about Applying one on to your face and then applying the next on top. I’m not the biggest fan of actually mixing products in the palm of my hand. Not because that Makes the ingredients react quicker, But because not all textures mix. Skincare products are formulated in a certain way for a reason. If you start messing with that, It can alter the product and reduce its greatness. Think cooking: I love stew – I love ice cream. So if I want both, I first eat the stew and then I eat the ice cream. Of course I could mix both on a plate, but that would turn both into a pretty disgusting meal, Even though they’re still the same nutrition wise. If you’re concerned about the pH, this is another thing why I don’t think you should mix your Formulations in the palm of your hand. Some ingredients work better at a certain pH, Vitamin C for example as in L- ascorbic acid works best at a low pH, while others prefer a more neutral pH. If you alter the pH of your ascorbic acid solution by mixing it into your basic moisturizer, You will reduce the absorption of vitamin C. So you will reduce the efficacy. And I know that there are some people that will tell me: Yeah, well, But I will alter the pH of my skin by applying An acidic product and if I then apply another product I should wait at least 20 minutes for my skin’s pH to get back to normal. Well, technically true, but also false, because the skin’s pH needs much more than 20 minutes to Rebalance. It takes more around the two hour mark to actually get back to the skin’s normal, which is around 5.5. The one thing that we do that will change our skin’s pH is Washing off our natural acids by cleansing our skin with water, which is pretty alkaline, So we’re going to raise the skin’s pH. If you really want to make sure that the skin is at its natural PH before we apply product, you will need to wait at least two hours. I don’t know about you, I don’t have this time either in the mornings nor in the evenings, So I personally just tend to ignore the fact that the skincare Ingredients that I apply need a different pH and just apply one and then the next after it has dried down. Is it possible that this reduces the effect on my skin by a few percent? Yes. But as I said before: in skin care more effect is not always the best way to go for your skin. Are there ingredients that I can mix with everything? Yes, of course, the humectants like glycerin, like hyaluronic acid, your silicones and your occlusives and other emollients, they are fine to be paired with everything, which means that the basic cleanser and the basic moisturizer work with Everything that you plan to sandwich in between. Are there products that you should never mix? Yes, of course, there’s always exceptions to the rules: All products that you need prescription for. You should never mix the prescription with anything just Willy-nilly, you should always talk to the professional that prescribes the medication. This is true for strong retinoids like tretinoin, retinoic acid, for Hydroquinone which is prescription-only in Europe and – The one that is kind of a mixture because I know that you can get it it over-the-counter in low concentrations – is benzoyl peroxide, Because this actually works by oxidizing, So if you pair it with an antioxidant They just exactly cancel each other out. and it’s pretty reactive, pretty drying, pretty irritating, So not the best to be combined with other irritating ingredients. Bottom line: You can theoretically mix everything that you can buy over-the-counter. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In skincare Maximized effects are not what we are aiming to do, gentle and consistent is the way to go. So if you combine Actives you actually increase the chances of having an adverse reaction more than you increase the actual benefit of the ingredients, with one exception that I’m going to talk about in the Retinoids video. I think it’s much more sensible to use one active at a time, Retinoids if you want them and can tolerate them. If you use retinoids, Most likely you won’t need anything like acids, But even if you do, use them one night when you take a break from your retinoids. Vitamin C – use it in the mornings, So it doesn’t interfere with your acids or your retinoids in terms of increasing the risk of irritation. Ceramides, peptides, you can combine them with everything. Hydroquinone only as advised by your professional, Same goes for benzoylperoxide. Again, Just because you can combine something doesn’t mean you should! Over Exfoliation can lead to chronic inflammation, and chronic inflammation is one of the main drivers of premature aging, Something that we all want to avoid. I hope you found this video helpful, please subscribe So you don’t miss the other two parts of this mini-series, leave any questions you have in the description box below. I’m going to link to more skincare basic explained videos on the screen now And I’m going to see you all very soon with another one. Bye!


  1. For me, I think that Niacinamide can be used with anything and is very unlikely to have any negative effects on the skin, but The Ordinary instructs not to use their niacinamide with vitamin C so I listen to them. I still use antioxidants before sunscreen even though I know that the research behind them is iffy and I would tend to combine those because they are more likely to be effective when used together. I would think to mix azelaic acid and retinoids to help prevent any inflammation. And I also use a B5 gel morning and night which is probably mainly a humectant

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