How To Use Retinol and Vitamin C Together

Even if you’ve put together a list of products and ingredients you’d like to work into your routine, you might be at a bit of a loss when it comes to how to use all of those ingredients together.

It’s not just about what order to apply products in. It’s about learning what each ingredient does and how it affects your skin so that you don’t accidentally layer two particularly strong products on top of one another and irritate your skin. On top of that, some products can be super effective, yet have less desirable side effects that could be amplified by another ingredient. 

We’ll make at least one possible combination of skincare ingredients easy for you: Retinol and Vitamin C can be used safely and beneficially together! But let’s talk about what each individual ingredient does and how to use them together to get the most out of each product.

What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a Vitamin A derivative that’s often touted as a miracle anti-aging ingredient in skincare products. Your skin is a retinoid-responsive tissue, which means that your skin cells get to work pretty quickly at making good use of Vitamin A when they come into contact with it.

Retinol can also improve discoloration or dark spots. That’s because as they help slough off old skin cells, they can help inhibit the production of melanin, which is what often causes discoloration in the first place.

What About Phyto-Retinol?

You may or may not have heard about Phyto-Retinol before, but it’s an amazing plant-based ingredient that’s gaining popularity when it comes to anti-aging treatments. Phyto-Retinol is made from natural sources, rather than synthetic, and offers many of the same benefits as traditional Retinol. 

It’s important not to think about Phyto-Retinol as an “alternative” to Retinol, because it’s really just another option when it comes to keeping your skin looking youthful and bright. In fact, some studies have shown that Phyto-Retinol is exactly as effective as Retinol when it comes to improving the appearance of wrinkles and in evening out your skin tone — and it was better tolerated by the participants’ skin.

What Is Vitamin C?

Much like Retinols, Vitamin C has a great reputation for anti-aging effects. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which means it works well for encouraging your skin’s natural ability to regenerate itself. 

Antioxidants are also useful when it comes to fighting off the negative effects of UV damage, so while they’re certainly not a replacement or substitute for your daily SPF, they’re a great additional boost when it comes to giving a boost to sun-exposed skin. Vitamin C can promote an even complexion. 

Clinical trials have shown Vitamin C to be useful for improving the appearance of breakouts. Using Vitamin C topically can help to balance the appearance of oiliness on your face, which is a huge help if you have breakout-prone or oily skin.

Vitamin C may also work well to boost how supple and firm your skin looks, since the parts of your skin that took care of this when you were younger become slightly more rare in your skin’s ecosystem as you age. With this, Vitamin C may help to stave off visible effects of aging and can help keep your complexion looking youthful.

How Do You Use Both Retinol and Vitamin C?

It’s best to get two different products if you’re looking to work both Retinol and Vitamin C into your skincare regimen. It’ll make it easier to control the concentrations of products used, and to isolate a product in case your skin has a negative reaction to one of these ingredients, or other ingredients in the formulation. 

Vitamin C

We’ll let you in on a little-known secret when it comes to using Vitamin C in your skincare routine. 

Vitamin C is very unstable, and it tends to break down as soon as it contacts liquid. This means that there are many products out there that claim to be formulated with Vitamin C, but if the Vitamin C is mixed with a liquid, your skin isn’t actually getting as much of the good stuff as you think.

That’s why our Vitamin C Booster is actually a powder rather than a traditional serum. This makes it the most potent way for your skin to experience all of the benefits of Vitamin C. Just mix it with our hydrating, antioxidant-rich Chebula Active Serum — it’ll absorb straight into your skin at its most potent and beneficial.

(You can get the Glowy Super Duo here!)

Our Vitamin C Booster can help to brighten your complexion and improve the appearance of dark spots with the combined power of Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid. Together, they support more youthful-looking skin. They also have the added bonus of providing some protection to your skin when it comes to sun exposure. Some studies have shown that combining Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid can help protect your skin from long-term damage.

You can apply this nourishing combo to your skin and massage it in until it absorbs completely, twice a day, as part of your morning routine and your evening routine. 

Vitamin C is known to be gentle on your skin, so you generally don’t need to worry about any irritation or negative side effects from using it. It’s safe enough to just jump right in and use daily if that’s your preference, although like most skincare ingredients, it might take a little bit of time and consistent use to reap the full range of benefits Vitamin C can provide.

Retinol or Phyto-Retinol

Synthetic Retinol is best worked into your end-of-the-day wind down routine, because of the photosensitivity we mentioned earlier. You’ll want to apply it after washing your face, and follow it up with a rich cream moisturizer, like our Chebula Extreme Cream. Keeping your skin hydrated is important in general, but especially important when you’re trying to avoid the side effects that may come with Synthetic Retinol.

Synthetic Retinol can also be harsh on your skin, so it’s important to work it into your skincare routine gradually. You may experience redness, dryness, tingling or itchiness depending on how sensitized your skin is. These side effects should go away over time, and you can increase the amount of time a week you use Retinol as long as they do. 

These gaps in Synthetic Retinol’s performance is why we created our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster, which is formulated with Provitamin A Carotenoids that use the most biocompatible kind of retinoic acids to fight signs of aging, whether you’re worried about fine lines and wrinkles or dark spots and an uneven skin tone.

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster comes in capsule form. All you have to do is twist one open and massage the liquid into your skin. Phyto-Retinol offers all the amazing benefits of Retinol with none of the sensitizing side effects that you’re likely to struggle with in using Synthetic Retinol. Our Phyto-Retinol is even certified to be microbiome-friendly, working with your skin’s own innate intelligence to deliver powerful anti-aging benefits.

In fact, our Phyto-Retinol is formulated with Calendula Oil, which is known for its ability to seriously rescue and rehabilitate sensitized skin. It’s soothing and hydrating, working to nourish even rough, dry, or cracked skin. Not only do you not have to worry about Phyto-Retinol irritating your skin, but you can rest assured that it will even help to soothe your skin overall, keep it hydrated and reducing the appearance of redness.

Because Phyto-Retinol is so much gentler on your skin, it’s also much less limiting when you work it into your skincare routine. While Synthetic Retinol isn’t good for daytime use and doesn’t play well with other common skincare ingredients like AHAs and BHAs, Phyto-Retinol is gentle enough to be combined with basically any product you can think of, and used twice a day in your AM and PM skincare routine. 

You can even use Phyto-Retinol alongside chemical exfoliants, and you can definitely use it alongside Vitamin C. If you’d like to use both Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster and Vitamin C Booster, apply your Phyto-Retinol first. Then, moisturize as normal with the Vitamin C powder mixed in.

Why Use Retinol and Vitamin C Together?

For a while, it was thought that Vitamin C and Retinol tend to cancel each other out. But more research is showing that utilizing both ingredients in your skincare routine can have positive effects on your skin. Because the products go about improving your skin through different processes, using both as part of your skincare regimen will just help you get to that perfect, glowing complexion faster than using them in isolation would.

If you’re using a synthetic Retinol, they’re a perfect team, because synthetic Retinol causes photosensitivity, which means your skin will be more vulnerable to the sun during use. Because of this, synthetic Retinol should be applied in the evening. Vitamin C, on the flip side, may offer your skin some additional protection, so it’s great for day time use.

The exception to this rule is Phyto-Retinol. Phyto-Retinol doesn’t make your skin photosensitive, so it can be used in the morning and in the evening — but more on that in the next section.

In Conclusion

Retinol and Vitamin C both offer a wide range of benefits when it comes to brightening your complexion, evening out your skin tone and keeping your skin looking young and fresh no matter what your age is. 

While you may think that anti-aging ingredients are something you don’t have to worry about until you’re older, working Vitamin C and Retinol into your skincare routine even before you’re starting to see fine lines and wrinkles can help delay that process, and reduce the appearance of your fine lines and wrinkles when they do start to appear. After all, the best defense is a good offense!

We recommend using our Phyto-Retinol in your AM routine and Vitamin C Booster in your PM routine, though our Phyto-Retinol is gentle enough to make an appearance after-hours, too!

Whatever your age or skincare concerns, Retinol and Vitamin C can be used safely together, and when combined, can really make a huge difference to your skin. If you’re looking for a way to keep your skin bright and youthful, this power couple is a real contender.


Retinoids in the Treatment of Skin Aging: An Overview of Clinical Efficacy and Safety | US National Library of Medicine

Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin | The American Journal of Pathology

Vitamin C in Dermatology | Indian Dermatology Online Journal

Histological Evaluation of a Topically Applied Retinol-Vitamin C Combination | National Library of Medicine

Prospective, Randomized, Double-Blind Assessment of Topical Bakuchiol and Retinol for Facial Photoageing | National Library of Medicine

Vitamin A and Skin Health | Oregon State University

Why is Topical Vitamin C Important For Skin Health | Harvard Health Publishing

Sodium L-ascorbyl-2-phosphate 5% Lotion for the Treatment of Acne Vulgaris: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Trial | Wiley Online LIbrary