The Ultimate Guide to Mixing Retinol with Other Skincare Ingredients

The Ultimate Guide to Mixing Retinol with Other Skincare Ingredients

Without a doubt, retinol is a star ingredient in the skincare world, known for its ability to accelerate cell turnover, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin texture. However, knowing how to combine retinol with other skincare ingredients is crucial to maximize its benefits and avoid potential skin irritation.


Retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, is a potent ingredient renowned for its ability to combat signs of aging, stimulate collagen production, and promote cell turnover. It is a versatile addition to any skincare routine but requires careful consideration when combined with other products.


In this article, we will take a hard look at retinol and what you can/cannot mix with it.


Ingredients That Mix Well with Retinol

Adding retinol to your skincare routine can provide you with impressive anti-aging benefits, but it's essential to pair it with the right ingredients to enhance its effectiveness and minimize potential irritation.


But first things first. Make sure you use a retinol product free of synthetic and filler ingredients, like our Smooth Sailing Retinol Serum. It is formulated with abundant natural moisturizers to keep your skin healthy, hydrated, and smooth while retinol repairs fine lines and damaged skin.


Below, we explore the best ingredients that complement retinol.


Hyaluronic Acid

Found in: Up the Anti Anti-Aging Night Cream


Why It Works:

Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, which means it attracts and retains moisture in the skin. After application, you’ll enjoy plumper, more youthful skin as your cells soak up the solution.


When combined with retinol, hyaluronic acid helps to counteract the drying effects that retinol can sometimes cause. This synergy between hyaluronic acid and retinal ensures that your skin remains hydrated and plump, reducing the likelihood of irritation and dryness.


How to Use:

Can you mix hyaluronic acid with retinol? Yes! After applying your Smooth Sailing Retinol Serum, follow up with a product containing hyaluronic acid, such as our Up the Anti Anti-Aging Night Cream. This will lock in moisture and keep your skin hydrated throughout the night.


Do I Use Retinol Before or After Hyaluronic Acid?

Whether you should apply retinol before or after hyaluronic acid depends on your skin type.


For those with oily or acne-prone skin, it's recommended to apply retinol directly onto clean skin first. This allows the retinol to penetrate effectively.


After applying retinol, you can follow up with a face serum, lotion, or cream containing hyaluronic acid to help reduce the likelihood or ease any potential irritation.


Many over-the-counter retinol products already include hyaluronic acid to reduce irritation.


If you have sensitive skin, you might prefer the "retinol sandwich" method (also referred to as layering).


Start layering or sandwiching by applying a water-based hyaluronic acid serum to clean skin. Once it’s fully absorbed, apply a pea-sized amount of retinol to your face and neck.


Use a moisturizing lotion with hyaluronic acid and emollients like ceramides to prevent dryness. This layering technique helps to minimize irritation while ensuring the retinol is effectively absorbed.


How Often Can You Use Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol?

Hyaluronic acid can be used whenever your skin needs hydration, which might be daily or even multiple times a day. However, when combining hyaluronic acid with retinol, it's advisable to use them together more sparingly.


Experts recommend using the retinol and hyaluronic acid combination around three times a week to see significant results over time.


Starting retinol use in your 20s and maintaining a consistent routine can offer long-term benefits for your skin.



Found in: Original Cin Niacinamide 10% Serum


Why It Works:


Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a versatile ingredient that complements retinol beautifully. It has anti-inflammatory properties which help to to strengthen the skin’s barrier and improve elasticity. Niacinamide also helps to reduce the potential irritation and redness that retinol can cause, making it an ideal companion for your retinol regimen.


How to Use:


Can you mix niacinamide and retinol? Yes, you can! Apply niacinamide before your retinol serum to prepare your skin and reduce the likelihood of irritation. Our Original Cin Niacinamide 10% Serum is perfect, providing a calming and strengthening effect before the retinol takes action.


Ingredients That Don't Mix Well with Retinol

As wonderful as retinol is, not everything mixes well with retinol products. Below are a few things that you should avoid when using retinol.


Benzoyl Peroxide

Not Found in Eight Saints products.


Why It Doesn't Work:


Benzoyl peroxide is a potent acne-fighting ingredient, but it can be too harsh when used alongside retinol. Both ingredients can cause dryness and irritation, leading to excessive peeling and redness. Using them together can compromise the skin barrier and exacerbate irritation.




Avoid using benzoyl peroxide and retinol in the same skincare routine. If you need to use both, apply benzoyl peroxide in the morning and retinol in the evening to minimize the risk of irritation.


Glycolic Acid

Found in: Soulmate Brightening Treatment, All In Eye Cream, Brightside Cream Cleanser


Why It Doesn't Work:


Glycolic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that exfoliates the skin by breaking down the bonds between dead skin cells. While effective on its own, combining glycolic acid with retinol can lead to excessive exfoliation, resulting in increased sensitivity, irritation, and even damage to the skin barrier.




Can you mix retinol and glycolic acid? It's best to avoid this combination. If you use glycolic acid products like our Soulmate Brightening Treatment or Brightside Cream Cleanser, use them on alternate nights with your retinol serum.


Vitamin C

Found in: Seeking C Face Serum


Why It Doesn't Work:


Vitamin C, particularly in its potent form ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that brightens the skin and fights free radicals. However, vitamin C is most effective in a low-pH environment, whereas retinol requires a higher pH to work effectively. Using them together can render both ingredients less effective and increase the risk of irritation.




Can you mix retinol and vitamin C? To get the best results from both ingredients, use vitamin C in your morning routine and retinol in your evening routine. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of both without compromising their effectiveness.


Salicylic Acid


Found in: Quality Control Acne Spot Treatment


Why It Doesn't Work:

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates deep into the pores to clear out acne-causing debris. However, like glycolic acid, it can be too harsh when used with retinol, leading to increased dryness, irritation, and potential skin damage.




Can you mix salicylic acid and retinol? It's advisable to use these ingredients on different days or times. For instance, use our Quality Control Acne Spot Treatment in the morning and Smooth Sailing Retinol Serum in the evening.


Answering the Hard Retinol Questions

When incorporating retinol into your skincare routine, it's crucial to know which ingredients complement it and which can cause irritation.


Pairing retinol with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and soothing agents like niacinamide can enhance its benefits and minimize potential dryness or irritation. However, it's important to avoid combining retinol with potent acids like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and vitamin C, as these can lead to excessive dryness, irritation, and reduce the effectiveness of both ingredients.


Below are a few of the most common questions about mixing retinal with other skincare ingredients.


Can you mix hyaluronic acid with retinol?

Yes, hyaluronic acid can be mixed with retinol to help retain moisture and counteract potential dryness.


Can you mix niacinamide and retinol?

Yes, niacinamide pairs well with retinol as it helps to reduce irritation and strengthens the skin barrier.


Can you mix retinol and vitamin C?

No, it’s best to use retinol and vitamin C at different times of the day to avoid irritation and ensure each ingredient works effectively.


Can you mix salicylic acid and retinol?

No, combining salicylic acid with retinol can lead to excessive dryness and irritation, so it’s best to use them on different days or times.


Can you mix retinol and hyaluronic acid?

Yes, retinol and hyaluronic acid can be used together to maintain skin hydration and minimize dryness.


What not to mix with retinol?

Avoid mixing retinol with benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and salicylic acid as they can cause irritation and reduce the effectiveness of both ingredients.


Can I mix niacinamide with retinol?

Yes, niacinamide can be mixed with retinol to help calm the skin and enhance the overall benefits of your skincare routine.


Understanding which ingredients work well with retinol and which ones don't is crucial for maintaining healthy, glowing skin. By combining retinol with hydrating and soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, you can reap the benefits while minimizing or preventing skin irritation


Avoid pairing retinol with potent acids like glycolic acid, salicylic acid, and vitamin C to prevent adverse reactions and ensure each ingredient works effectively.


Additional Tips for Retinol Use

  • Start Slow: If you're new to retinol, start with a lower concentration and gradually increase it to allow your skin to acclimate.
  • Use Sunscreen: Retinol can increase your skin's sensitivity to the sun, so always use a broad-spectrum sunscreen during the day.
  • Moisturize: To counteract any dryness or irritation, ensure you use a good moisturizer.


With these guidelines, you can confidently integrate retinol into your skincare regimen and achieve the radiant, youthful skin you've always desired.
Keep an eye out for the release of our Smooth Sailing Retinol Serum and experience the transformative power of retinol with Eight Saints.