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How to layer Vitamin C

It’s 2020 and no one has a basic 2-step skincare routine anymore. If you too are mad about skincare and you too LOVE layering on products or even if you’re a basic B, it’s important to know what ingredients you’re putting on your face and if those ingredients work together or not.

When it comes to Vitamin C, here’s all the information you need! 

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Why should you be using Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a great ingredient to incorporate into your skincare routine. It’s an antioxidant that helps filter and reflect UV rays; it neutralizes the effects of free radicals (sun damage, pollution, etc) before they can even begin to do damage, fights pigmentation in your skin, helps boosts collagen production, can produce ceramide which strengthens the skin barrier. Need we say more?!

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But just like other active ingredients, Vitamin C is a little tricky to layer because while it works wonders with some ingredients, it may cause irritation or may not be as effective when mixed with some.

Here’s our list of ingredients that you can and cannot mix with VitC. Also included are some maybes where research isn’t solid.

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E and Vitamin C have complementary roles when it comes to our skin. They enhance each other’s antioxidant function and both play a role in shielding our skin from harmful sun rays. Furthermore Vitamin E is fat soluble while Vitamin C is water soluble. What this does is allow our skin to absorb both these ingredients better!

Alpha Arbutin

This ingredient helps prevent melanin in the skin, which means that it enhances the skin's brightness and prevents sun spots and pigmentation. Just be sure to either use Alpha Arbutin with Vitamin C at night or if you want to use it in the morning pair it up with an SPF 50 or plus and you’re good to go!


When used with Vitamin C, peptides penetrate deep within our skin and help our skin produce collagen and we know that collagen is vital in preventing wrinkles and increasing the elasticity of skin. 

Hyaluronic Acid

As a general rule, we’re told to avoid using other acids with Vitamin C but Hyaluronic acid is not an acid (technically). It actually hydrates your skin and improves its barrier function and needless to say, is completely safe and complimentary to use with Vitamin C.

The Poof Vitamin C Serum has both! Just saying.

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Avoid using other acids with Vitamin C because that might over-exfoliate your skin and cause irritation. However, since some vitamin C serums are gentle like Poof’s, it can be okay to use them after AHA/BHA cleansers like a Salicylic Acid cleanser. AHAs/BHAs  are used in soooo many acne treatments. If you're doing any such treatments, it’s perfectly alright to use Vitamin C within a pH of 2.0 - 4.0 range. Still important to check with your dermatologist!

Benzoyl peroxide

This ingredient is not something you haven’t heard of before if you have or have had acne. Benzoyl Peroxide is used to treat mild/moderate acne by killing bacteria on the surface of your skin through oxidation. When used in combination with Vitamin C, it not only renders it ineffective but also forms clots which make it impossible for our skin to absorb any of the good stuff.

The Maybes

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Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) that for so many is a wonder ingredient. It helps skin produce ceramides to improve barrier function and hydration, increases collagen production to help with the appearance of fine lines and pores, inhibits excess sebum production, and may help lighten discoloration. Whoa.

But can you use it with Vitamin C? The short answer is: yes. Any research you read otherwise is probably outdated.  Buuuut there is still research (from the 1960s that doesn’t really apply to the real world) so some experts still recommend using them at separate times. A lot of the concern stems from the idea of niacinamide hydrolyzing into nicotinic acid (AKA niacin) when combined with vitamin C. This conversion activates epidermal langerhans cells, causing facial flushing, AKA redness and tingling

The bottom line: It’s perfectly fine to use them together. When it comes down to it, it’s all about personal preference. If you have more sensitive skin and are worried about the possible effects of a niacin flush, then you can alternate your niacinamide and vitamin C day to day. But if your skin isn’t particularly sensitive, go ahead and use them together!


There is debate about whether these both can be used together and the answer is both yes and no. No because they are effective at different pH levels so they may render each other ineffective when used at the same time. HOWEVER, when used with a derivative of Vitamin C (like Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate which our vitamin C serum uses), they work well. research 

Our recommendation: If you want to use both of them in the same routine, apply vitamin C serum 30 minutes before you put retinol. If you’re still iffy about it, switch the products in the AM and PM or you can use them on alternate days just to be extra safe and get the most out of your skincare.

Extra Tip 

If you use an oil cleanser, make sure to wipe all of it off so that Vitamin C can seep into your skin! Vitamin C is water soluble so it can’t penetrate through oil very well.

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