Layering skincare products is greatrecommended, even, for a more personalized regimenbut did you know that there are certain ingredients that should never, for various reasons, mix? If you've been breaking out, this might be the reason why! Below, five skincare cocktails to avoid like the plague.


1. Vitamin C + AHAs

Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA) is an exfoliant that possesses a pH strong enough to render Vitamin C inactive. In short, these two cancel each other out! They're incredibly effective when used separately, though: Both help to brighten the skin and smooth out rough patches. Vitamin C contains more antioxidants to protect against aging and an uneven complexion, while AHAs are best to treat fine lines, acne, and hyperpigmentation.

2. Retinol + Salicylic Acid

Individually too potent to use together, a combination of retinol and salicylic acid can cause redness, peeling, and irritation. Yikes! It's best to pick one zit-zapper, ladies. Salicylic acid is especially effective against congested pores and blackheads; on the other hand, retinol is better suited to counter the effects of aging.

3. BHA + Benzoyl Peroxide

Decreased tolerability becomes a concern whenever exfoliants (physical or chemical) are combined. Beta hydroxy acids (BHA), like salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are both exfoliating ingredients, so you run the risk of irritating your skin in a major way (triggering even more breakouts). Don't strip your skin bare! Keep the two separate to prevent redness and peeling. 

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4. Retin-A + Scrub Exfoliants

Retin-A is prized by dermatologists for its ability to coax skin into renewing itself, also treating wrinkles, discoloration, and roughness at the same time. Unfortunately, Retin-A has a tendency to dry out skin, causing it to peel! Using a scrub exfoliant is only going to make matters worse, so go for a gentler, bead-free facial wash.

5. Probiotics + Antimicrobials

Topical probiotics have been associated with clearer, less inflamed skin, and reduced instances of dermatitis. They contain living bacteria though, so be careful about using any products that kill, well, bacteria. Pay extra attention to ingredients in your anti-acne faves: Common antimicrobials include citrus, tea tree oil, sulfur, and benzoyl peroxide, none of which should ever be combined with probiotics.

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* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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