Can I use Retinol, Hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C together?

Most of the 16 Baumann Skin Types can use retinol, hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C together in their skin care routine.

However, very dry skin types, sensitive skin types such as stinging skin types and rosacea prone skin types, should not use these 3 anti-aging ingredients together.

To find out if your skin type can use all of these skin serums together, diagnose your Baumann Skin Type and then follow our step-by-step skin care routine recommendations.

Retinol, hyaluronic acid, and vitamin C

Why use Retinol, Hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C together in your skin care routine

In the quest for youthful, radiant skin, the trio of Retinol, Hyaluronic Acid, and Vitamin C stands out as a powerhouse combination. Retinol and Vitamin C both play pivotal roles in boosting collagen production, a crucial protein responsible for maintaining the skin's elasticity and firmness. With age, collagen levels naturally decline, leading to the appearance of wrinkles and sagging. By promoting its synthesis, these ingredients work synergistically to combat these signs of aging over time. On the other hand, Hyaluronic Acid, a potent humectant, works to draw moisture into the skin, providing immediate hydration and plumping, which can soften the appearance of fine lines. This results in an instantaneous rejuvenating effect. Thus, while Hyaluronic Acid offers instant gratification by making skin appear smoother and more hydrated, Retinol and Vitamin C promise lasting benefits, making them a sought-after trio in anti-aging skincare.

which skin types can use retinol, hya...

Sensitive Skin Should Not Use Retinol, Hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C together

Those with sensitive skin need to exercise caution using these 3 anti-aging ingredients together. 

Vitamin C, inherently acidic, can be irritating to some skin types. 

Similarly, while Hyaluronic Acid is acidic. HA is celebrated for its hydrating properties, but it can amplify the absorption of retinol. This increased absorption can heighten the risk of retinoid dermatitis, a condition characterized by dryness, redness, and flaking. 

If you have rosacea, which makes the skin more susceptible to irritation, you may find this combination particularly aggravating. Therefore, while the trio offers promising results for many, using them concurrently might not be ideal for those with sensitive or reactive skin types.

Things to know before you use retinol, ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid (HA) together

These ingredients are often used together.  Here are a few points to know:

  Retinol turns into retinoic acid in the skin

How you layer retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid in your skin care routine will determine skin benefits and side effects.

HA serums make other ingredients absorb better

How to Layer Vitamin C serum , Retinol and Hyaluronic acid?

Rules when using these antiaging ingredients together:

  • Vitamin C always comes first because it has difficulty absorbing into the skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid serums should be applied after Vitamin C
  • HA serums applied before or after retinol increases retinol absorption and side effects
  • Hyaluronic acid should only be used when you can use retinol without side effects
retinoid side effects

Can you use Vitamin C in am and retinol in pm?

Unless you have rosacea, stinging skin or irritated skin, you can use Vitamin C in the am and retinol in the pm. These are both acids, so do not use any other exfoliating products in your skin care routine so that you do not over exfoliate.

(Retinol turns into retinoic acid in the skin, which is why it has acidic effects.)

Can I use Vitamin C in the morning and hyaluronic acid at night?

You can use Vitamin C in the morning and HA serum at night but it is better to use the hyaluronic acid on top of the vitamin C in the am. 

A HA serum will help vitamin C penetrate

Also, hyaluronic acid plumps wrinkles, making your skin look smoother. You want this effect in the daytime.

How do you use Vitamin C, retinol and hyaluronic acid at night?

Steps to use Vitamin C, retinol and HA serum together:

  1. First apply Vitamin C serum
  2. Wait 5 minutes. 
  3. Mix the retinol and HA serum together on the back of your hand
  4.  Apply mixture to your face.

Using all 3 serums may be too strong for many Baumann Skin Types, so take the skin care routine quiz and get our recommendations specific to your skin type.

Can I use retinol after hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C

You can use retinol after HA and Vitamin C, but the hyaluronic acid will increase retinol absorption and increase risk of side effects.


Can I use Retinol, Hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C and Niacinamide together?

You can use these ingredients together, however this combination is not good for all Baumann Skin Types.

Vitamin C, retinol, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid do not inactivate each other. However, you must use them in the correct order for best results.

The correct order to layer retinol, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and niacinamide for most skin types is:

  1. Vitamin C
  2. Hyaluronic acid
  3. Retinol
  4. Niacinamide

However, this advice varies depending on what Baumann Skin Type you are.

Once you take the quiz we will be able to give you better guidance.

Our goal is to empower you to make better skin care decisions!

Level up your skin care knowledge with medical advice from dermatologists

Do you use hyaluronic acid before retinol?

Because hyaluronic acid moisturizes the skin, it is important to use it before your retinoids, which can dry the skin.

Is retinol better for wrinkles than hyaluronic acid?

These ingredients tackle different issues. Retinoids are one of the best anti-aging ingredients in skin care, while hyaluronic acid is mainly just a moisturizing ingredient. For that reason, retinoids are better for wrinkles than hyaluronic acid.

Best References and Scientific Publications on using HA, Vit C and Retinol together:

  1. Baumann L. Antiaging Ingredients in Ch. 37 of Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology Ed 3. (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann, L. Cosmeceuticals and cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  3. Majewski, G. P. (2023). Dermal-Epidermal Junction Proteins: A Useful Target for Addressing Age-Related Changes in Facial Skin. J Clin Dermatol Ther, 9(0119), 2.
  4. Ruamrak, C., Lourith, N., & Natakankitkul, S. (2009). Comparison of clinical efficacies of sodium ascorbyl phosphate, retinol and their combination in acne treatment. International journal of cosmetic science, 31(1), 41-46.
  5. Baumann, L. (2007). Skin ageing and its treatment. The Journal of Pathology: A Journal of the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland, 211(2), 241-251.

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