Retinol and Vitamin C are arguably the most incredible ingredients to change your skin. They promote elasticity of the skin, reduce fine lines and pigmentation, de-clog pores, encourage radiance and plumping of the skin, all to give you the best skin of your life. What’s not to love? BUT mixing the products together unknowingly will cause a serious skin backlash of redness and skin burn or the chemicals cancelling each other out making it a waste of money. According to Michelle Villett at the Skincare edit, it all comes down to the PH of the product. Retinol typically has a pH between 5.0 and 6.0, whereas the active form of Vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid, needs to be at pH 3.5 or lower in order to effectively penetrate your skin. Since retinol and L-ascorbic acid have a big gap in pH, using them at the same time will lower the retinol’s pH and raise the Vitamin C’s pH. Therefore, the retinol will become less active and the Vitamin C won’t be able to penetrate your skin effectively, thus making both products less effective. How can we avoid this and get the best out of both products? Pynck is here to show you. A simple solution is applying Vitamin C in the morning and Retinol at night. This leaves a good gap in between and allows the product’s active ingredients to get to work. However, if you have more sensitive skin, applying the Vitamin C in the morning, might mean that your skin hasn’t quite had time to shake off all the vestiges of the previous product and can cause your skin to go red temporarily (a bit like a chemical burn). In which case, it might be better to do your Retinol and Vitamin C on alternate nights to give them a bit of breathing room and allow your skin not to become too overwhelmed. However, you must only wear Retinol at night because it makes your skin more sensitive to light and consequently less protected from UV Rays so always wear your sunscreen the next morning after using retinol! You can use Vitamin C however, morning or night.

If you want to just crack on and get the products on in the same evening, make sure you give at least a 30-minute gap between them. Apply the Vitamin C first and wait to apply your retinol. However, if you have sensitive skin, it is best to probably stick to one active ingredient at a time. Equally, you can use your retinol and a Vitamin C derivative at the same time should you so wish but make sure they are one of the following derivatives: Ascorbyl glucoside (pH 5.0 to 7.0), Ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (pH 4.0 to 6.0), Ethyl ascorbic acid (pH 4.0 to 5.5), Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (pH 6.0 to 7.0), Sodium ascorbyl phosphate (pH 6.0 to 7.0). Now, which retinol and Vitamin C product to choose? You’re in luck. Pynck has already done a full article on everything you need to know about retinol, so just click here to access:

Vitamin C alternatively, here are our top choices:

C.E.O by Sunday Riley, £70

“Even out skin tone and tackle the visible signs of ageing with the Sunday Riley CEO Serum. This concentrated, fast absorbing and rapid flash brightening serum works to seamlessly minimise the appearance of hyper pigmentation.”

A delicious scent and proven radiance – it’s a Pynck winner.


C15 Super Booster by Paula’s Choice, £47

A cult classic Paula’s Choice has once again knocked it out of the park with their Vitamin C formula delivering lightweight skincare that delivers a youthful glow.

“Packed with a 15% concentration of pure Vitamin C, this booster works to visibly brighten skin, even tone and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles”


C E Ferulic with 15% L-Ascorbic Acid by SkinCeuticals, £145

The OG of Vitamin C has to be SkinCeuticals – it won’t let you down.

“A patented daytime Vitamin C serum that delivers advanced environmental protection and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, loss of mfirmness, and brightens skin’s complexion.”


So there you have it. How to navigate Retinol and Vitamin C and our Pynck top picks – helping you on your journey to get the best out of your skincare.

Pynck Hot Tip – if you’re confused about which order to do your skin care, here is a guide courtesy of Dermstore.

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Sarah Cameron

Author and Social Media Correspondent

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