If you’ve just started to get into skin care and facial treatments, it might seem like you’re picking active ingredients out of a hat. More and more, we’re seeing brands take advantage of these actives, and releasing serums for every skin condition under the sun. And while this is great for those with a clear direction, it can be hard to find your ideal routine with this overload of information. So today, health and beauty company Jeunesse Global runs through how to mix and match your actives without irritating your skin:
How much is too much?
There are so many answers to this question. Some people like to stop after cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen, while others enjoy maximalist routines like the Korean 10-step regimen. But most experts in the field have pinned down a manageable number that allows maximum benefits. The general rule is to find your own sweet spot between the two ideologies above – about four to five steps.
Those four to five steps should always include a cleanser and moisturizer. After that, you can tailor the routine to your skin’s needs. For example, if you have ultra-dry or mature skin, you may want to work in this order: cleanser, hydrating toner, vitamin C serum, moisturizer and sunscreen for mornings. You’ll need something similar in the evening, such as: cleanser, retinol serum, antioxidant serum, moisturizer and facial oil to ramp up actives as well as hydration. You’ll need to do some experimentation, and decide which actives to use on a regular basis.
Vitamin C, retinol, peptides like Matrixyl, AHAs and BHAs, Niacinamide … The list of beneficial active ingredients goes on and on. But don’t want to try them all at once – especially if you’re not accustomed to them. Plus, certain beneficial ingredients can be rendered ineffective when paired with others, or worse – they can backfire completely. So, which combinations are the safest to use?
Mix or miss?
Active ingredients can be game changers in your skin care routine, but it’s important to use them correctly to avoid causing yourself more harm than good:
- Vitamin C and AHAs: Each is great on its own. We recommend using vitamin C in the morning, since it can help boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen. An AHA works best in the evening, because it can lead to sun damage if you don’t otherwise protect your skin after use.
- AHAs and Retinol: Retinol is a powerful ingredient, so you should incorporate it into your routine slowly, avoiding damage to your skin barrier.
- Retinol and Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide can be effective for acne, but if you have sensitive skin, proceed with caution. It can, in some rare cases, cause chemical burns, so please don’t combine it with any other active ingredients.
As a rule of thumb, stick to one to two serums or acids per routine. The classic approach is to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night, but this concept can apply to pretty much any treatment.
Exceptions to the rule
With all that said, there are a few exceptions to this rule. First things first: Antioxidants are always good. You can feel free to add antioxidants at any point in your skin care routine because they’re unlikely to cause any sort of irritation.
Additionally, the main exception to the rules we’ve outlined above is this: If multiple actives are included in a singular skin care product, such as the Luminesce Youth Restoring Cleanser from Jeunesse Global. This cleanser is jam-packed with actives, including salicylic acid, glycolic acid, retinol, along with several other antioxidant-rich extracts. With a singular product like this, the formula ensures each active is effective without being irritating.
The same can be said for products like the Luminesce Advanced Night Repair from Jeunesse, which has vitamin C and retinol as well, along with lactic acid. On their own, these actives would be too much to layer one on top of the other. But with the right formulation, you can use products like these worry free.
Above all else, we encourage you to treat your skin with care. Incorporate actives slowly, and be generous with gentle, moisturizing ingredients you know your skin loves. As your routine becomes more regular, and active ingredients become a normal part of it, you can experiment with more. But in the beginning, it’s better to let your skin adjust.
Are you using actives in your skin care routine? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
Read our last article on Jeunesse here!