Can vitamin C be mixed with AHA and BHA?




When it comes to the vast world of skincare, there is a lot of confusion about chemical acids and their role in everyday life. 

It seems that some of us are still a bit reluctant to use products like AHAs and BHAs, so the thought of using vitamin C with them can be understandably overwhelming. 

Time to stop panicking because we're here to demystify it all, and with any luck we could have answered the question at the end of today's blog post, "Can you mix Vitamin C with AHAs and BHAs?" 

But before we dive in, let's quickly review what these ingredients are and what they can do for your skin. 

What is Vitamin C? 

Vitamin C is a multifunctional skin ingredient that has been used in the beauty industry for many years. Only recently has this mighty powerhouse been able to shake off the misconceptions that have surrounded it for years. 

This is because it is considered unstable, which means it can cause various skin irritations and prevent product formulations from working effectively on the skin. Vitamin C has won over dermatologists, skincare professionals and fans alike with some proven stable ingredients. 

The following are examples of some of the benefits you can expect from using vitamin C. If you'd like to learn more about this ingenious ingredient, read our in-depth blog post. 

Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants, which means it fights free radical stress like pollution, UV rays and central heating. They are all known to damage the surface of the skin. 

Vitamin C increases collagen production, ensuring skin appears plumper, revitalized and youthful. That's because vitamin C contains two essential enzymes your skin needs to produce collagen: prolyl hydroxylase and lysyl hydroxylase. 

Vitamin C fights hyperpigmentation, dark spots and hyperpigmentation on the skin's surface. It reduces the production of melanin that reaches the surface and causes dark spots to become more pigmented. Over time, you will notice visible changes and improvements in your complexion. 

Vitamin C restores skin radiance. This is due to its blend of skin lightening properties. However, with regular use, you will notice a huge difference in the look and feel of your complexion. What are AHAs?


AHAs, also known as alpha hydroxy acids, are a type of chemical peel that has become an absolute favorite among beauty lovers. Depending on their structure, they either occur naturally or are synthetically blended into a range of skin care products.


The difference between AHAs and physical peels is that they break the bond of dead skin cells to the skin's surface. This allows the acid to slough off dead skin cells without physically rubbing them off your face. 

By removing unwanted skin cells, bacteria, dirt, debris and other impurities from your skin, you will have new skin that is fresh, vibrant, healthy, happy and radiant. Learn more about the skincare benefits of AHAs in our dedicated Skin School post. 

What are BHAs? 

BHA, also known as beta hydroxy acid, is considered a close relative of AHA. Often considered more effective, they should not be used by those with dry skin types prone to sensitivity as they can be too harsh on the skin. 

The main difference between AHAs and BHAs is that BHAs, specifically the most commonly used acid, salicylic acid, are oil-soluble and have a smaller molecular size, which means it can penetrate deeper into the skin and reach the lower layers of the skin. 

If you want to learn more about how BHA works on your skin, check out our post on skin schools. Can vitamin C be mixed with AHA and BHA? 

The short answer is yes, but only once you nail it will your skin be satisfied. I mean, you have to make sure you know your skin type first before trying to put these ingredients together. 

Those with oily skin may find their skin elastic enough to use a careful combination of these acids and vitamin C. However, before you start applying these products to your skin, you should make sure that you are still using these formulations effectively. 

The easiest way to combine Vitamin C with AHAs and BHAs is to remember the basic skin rules of using products from the thinnest to thickest formulations. This allows each product to deliver optimal results without competing with the physical barriers created by thicker formulas. 

You'll often find vitamin C in serums and face oils. So, you may choose to follow your serum with an exfoliating toner rich in AHAs (like glycolic acid) or BHAs (like salicylic acid). Use in combination with a moisturizer or other hyaluronic acid-rich serum for extra refreshed skin. Moisturizing keeps skin hydrated while counteracting possible dryness. 

If you notice signs of redness, increased sensitivity, or skin irritation, it's best to stop using all three potent substances in your daily routine and alternate the acids. You can do this by using your acid on different days or times of day, leaving your vitamin C serum in the morning and your acid of choice in the evening. 

Can BHA and Vitamin C be used together? 

Yes, you can, but only if you use each ingredient correctly in your daily life. As I mentioned before, using BHA and vitamin C together can be effective, but it can also dry out the skin. For best results, allow sufficient time between applications to allow skin's pH to rebalance and avoid unnecessary irritation. 

For best results, use an exfoliating toner with BHA (most commonly salicylic acid) after cleansing your face. Leave on for about 30 minutes, then apply a vitamin C-enriched serum, followed by a moisturizer enriched with hyaluronic acid and other hydrating ingredients. 

If you find that your skin is still showing signs of irritation, your other option is to thoroughly cleanse your skin at night with a BHA product after your vitamin C serum has pre-washed your skin from a day of free radical damage. 

Can AHAs and BHAs be mixed with hyaluronic acid? 

The beauty of hyaluronic acid as a skincare ingredient is that it works seamlessly with a variety of other ingredients, even powerhouses like salicylic and glycolic acids. 

When combined with these powerhouses, it's generally considered best to use hyaluronic acid after exfoliation, as it prevents any potential dryness. Instead, the skin benefits from the fact that moisture is locked on the face and has a protective skin barrier with proper moisture content to keep it functioning. This keeps the skin healthy and protected from free radicals and other environmental influences. 


Can Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C Be Used Together?

Yes, you can use glycolic acid and vitamin C together, but make sure you know what you're doing! If you're concerned about your skin looking dull, notice signs of hyperpigmentation and dark spots, or are showing signs of aging, then Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C are a powerful combination. 

If you stagger these ingredients, you can achieve amazing skin results as it helps rebalance your skin's pH and prevent irritation from set in. We detail how to use glycolic acid and vitamin C together in our dedicated Beauty Insiders blog post. 

How do salicylic acid and vitamin C work together? 

The difference from salicylic acid and glycolic acid is that salicylic acid has a significantly smaller molecular size. This allows it to penetrate to the bottom of pores to remove dirt, bacteria, excess sebum and other impurities. You'll often find that salicylic acid is very effective, but it can easily irritate your skin. Glycolic acid is also very effective, but due to its larger molecular size, it mainly acts on the outer layers of the skin.

How you use salicylic acid and vitamin C together will depend on your skin type and the habits you already have. That's because, as I mentioned before, using these ingredients requires enough time between applications or choosing to alternate times to pay off without causing unnecessary skin irritation.
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