Retinol vs. Vitamin C: Do I Need To Use Both in My Skincare Routine?

Since there’s a good amount of overlap between the benefits provided by Vitamin C and Retinol, it may be difficult to decide which one to work into your routine, or even if you should both. Let’s break down what Retinol and Vitamin C are, what they do, and whether or not you should be using both in your skincare regimen.

What Is Retinol?

When looking into ingredients that have amazing anti-aging effects, you’ve probably come across Retinol, Retinoid, and Retin-A.

Retinoid is the family Retinol and Retin-A belong to. They’re all derivatives of Vitamin A, although Retinol is the most common formulation in over-the-counter products. 

Retinoids and Retin-A tend to be stronger and are available with prescriptions from dermatologists or doctors. Although other Retinoids are more potent, Retinol is still a potent ingredient currently trending for its anti-aging properties.

These ingredients are touted as a miracle anti-aging product for a good reason. Retinol is known to stimulate skin cell turnover, which helps your skin renew itself faster to keep your complexion bright and even. 

Without Retinol, your skin has a natural turnover rate of approximately 28 days. However, age can cause your turnover rate to get as slow as 70 days. 

Retinol also supports the natural production of key skin components like collagen. Collagen helps keep your skin firm and plump; without it, you’re more prone to fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging.

While your body naturally produces collagen, your natural stores can deplete as you get older, which is part of what leads to visible signs of aging. 

Because Retinol has a similar effect on your skin to chemical exfoliants, it can help anything from fine lines and wrinkles to hyperpigmentation and dark spots to breakouts and blemishes. Retinol gives your skin an overall refresh — so it’s pretty much an all-around rockstar in the skincare world.

What Is Phyto-Retinol?

Phyto-Retinol is the plant-based version of Retinol. Whereas Synthetic Retinol can cause a wide range of unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects like dryness, redness, irritation, and flaking, Phyto-Retinol doesn’t pose any of these sensitization risks. If your skin’s sensitivity is a concern, or even if you just want the freedom of not having to worry about sensitization, choosing a Phyto-Retinol product over synthetic retinol is a great option.

Our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster makes anti-aging skincare way less complicated. Our microbiome-minded Phyto-Retinol harnesses the innate intelligence of your skin to deliver powerful anti-aging benefits without any sensitizing side effects.

Far from being drying like a synthetic retinol serum, our Booster is formulated with Calendula Oil, which instantly moisturizes, soothes eczema, and relieves irritated skin. Our calendula oil is extra special because it comes from a regenerative farm with the most nutrient-dense soil.

Once you break open one of our perfectly dosed vegan capsules and massage it onto your skin, our Provitamin A Carotenoids transform into their own potent retinoic acid. Like Retinol, our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster can help improve your skin texture, slough off dead skin cells to reduce breakouts, and support your skin in looking its best.

Here’s the kicker: Phyto-Retinol isn’t photosensitizing and doesn’t have any known negative reactions with other ingredients. 

So while you can’t use Vitamin C with normal Retinol due to its likelihood of irritation, Vitamin C and Vitamin C derivatives are safe to use directly with Phyto-Retinol!

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, known in the skincare world as L-Ascorbic Acid, is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are molecules that help to neutralize free radicals, which can break down proteins in your skin and cause visible signs of aging — and even premature aging.

Free radicals can occur due to a wide range of environmental factors. They can be caused by exposure to UV rays, cigarette smoke, and alcohol, and they’re also produced naturally by your body. If your body has too many free radicals and too few antioxidants, you can suffer from oxidative stress — which can cause a wide range of problems for both your health and your complexion.

Applying Vitamin C topically can help protect you from free radicals and reduce the appearance of flaws in your complexion. Superficial blemishes like sun spots, discoloration, and issues with your skin tone or texture may all be visibly corrected by Vitamin C.

The best way to incorporate Vitamin C into your skincare routine is with our Vitamin C Booster. This booster combines Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid to support surface skin cell turnover and protect overall skin integrity to reveal even-toned, smoother, and brighter-looking skin. 

You can even supercharge your favorite water-based serum or moisturizer by mixing in this gold standard of Vitamin C day and night. When used with your favorite serum or moisturizer, this Booster can dramatically give the look of brighter skin and help reduce the appearance of dark spots. This potent and effective form of Vitamin C is specially formulated to retain its potency for as long as you have it.

Do You Need Both Retinol and Vitamin C?

If you’d like to double down on your anti-aging routine, we recommend combining these two powerful ingredients. Both of these ingredients can help smooth fine lines and wrinkles and contribute to an overall brighter appearance. 

Are There Any Risks to Using Both?

Other than the general risk of irritation when using a new active ingredient, when it comes to getting the most out of your skincare ingredients, keeping your skin’s pH in mind is non-negotiable. Certain ingredients work better at low pH levels, whereas others need a high pH to be effective.

Because Vitamin C (low pH) and Retinol (high pH) are at opposite ends of the pH scale, it’s sometimes said that the efficacy of both will decrease when used together since both ingredients will end up trying to work at less than ideal pH levels.

While research shows that using Vitamin C and Retinol together can be beneficial to your skin, figuring out how to work two products into your routine that don’t necessarily pair well together can be complicated. So how can you reap the benefits of both?

Enter: Phyto-Retinol. 

While Synthetic Retinol and Vitamin C can often react and cause serious skin irritation, our Phyto-Retinol can be used right on top of Vitamin C for maximum skin-brightening benefits.

How Should You Use Retinol and Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine?

Working Retinol and Vitamin C into your skincare routine is pretty simple, especially when using Phyto-Retinol.

Prepare Your Skin

Set the stage for brighter skin by using a gentle but effective cleanser to remove any dirt or bacteria from your skin. Our Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balmeffectively removes makeup, sunscreen, and impurities without stripping your skin of necessary moisture. 

Instead of harsh surfactants and commonplace fillers like water and silicones, this cleanser is packed to the brim with natural-biocompatible ingredients that defend the skin barrier and leave skin looking and feeling clean, moisturized, and pillow-soft.

The wrong cleanser can do more harm than good, so our Cleansing Balm is formulated with makeup-melting Yucca Extract and skin-soothing Turmeric and Ginger Root Oil in place of harsh surfactants, potential irritants, and synthetic ingredients. No fillers means this product is packed to the brim with hard-working, nourishing ingredients that make it the ultimate multi-tasking cleanser that does it all!


Since synthetic Retinol can cause irritation, you should use it as a serum as part of your evening routine. However, with Phyto-Retinol, you can layer multiple skin-saving products without fear of a negative reaction.

Our Chebula Active Serum perfectly complements Phyto-Retinol if anti-aging is your main skincare priority. This anti-aging serum will dramatically change how your skin looks today, tomorrow, and years from now with the most potent, multi-targeting, breakthrough antioxidant in skincare: Chebula.

Chebula is a cascading antioxidant. Once it’s done fighting a free radical, it reacts by taking on a new form that can fight the next free radical, and the next, and the next without losing the ability to defend and protect against environmental stressors. 

Chebula Active Serum’s anti-aging benefits are so effective, they’re clinically proven to reduce wrinkles by 22% after 6 weeks, and 100% of women experienced softer and smoother skin after just one week.*

And because both Chebula Active Serum and Phyto-Retinol are plant-based and easy on your skin, you can use them both without worrying about damaging your skin barrier or drying out your skin.


Next comes our Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster. We talked about this in a previous section, so you know the drill! After applying your serum, crack open a capsule of Vitamin A by twisting it twice or cutting it with scissors. 

Because Phyto-Retinol works much more easily with your skin than synthetic Retinol, you don’t have to worry about other ingredients in your skincare routine. It also won’t cause photosensitivity. 

That means that, whereas synthetic Retinol should be left exclusively for evening use, you can apply your Phyto-Retinol Vitamin A Booster in the morning and in the evening to get double the anti-aging benefits.

Hydration + Vitamin C

Lock in all of your hard work with a luxurious moisturizer like our Chebula Extreme Cream. Chebula Extreme Cream is formulated with an exclusive Hydra-Cocktail of protein rejuvenators, humectants, emollients and breathable occlusives that lock in moisture and support your skin barrier.

Unlike traditional moisturizers, Chebula Extreme Cream is formulated without pore-clogging waxes, which are ubiquitous in conventional moisturizers. This allows our anti-aging ingredients to sink deep into your skin without causing any breakouts or disrupting your skin barrier.

To use the power of Vitamin C and Retinol, add some of our Vitamin C Booster to your moisturizer to get all the antioxidant and brightening benefits of Vitamin C.

In Conclusion

While Retinol and Vitamin C can be combined for maximum anti-aging effects, the best way to see these benefits is to use Phyto-Retinol. Together, these two ingredients create a wrinkle-fighting cocktail that not only smoothens the appearance of your skin but also brightens it. 

Looking for more skin-brightening, age-defying formulas? Explore the True Botanicals Renew Collection here!


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

Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health | Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity

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