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Ideal Skin Care Routine
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34 thoughts on “Ideal Skin Care Routine

  1. Hi,

    I found your site this evening and oh-my-god you are the stuff of my skincare dreams! I could have cried when I saw that you properly research on PubMed. It’s lovely to see some real science and total impartiality! Thank you so much!

    Can I throw some questions at you?

    I was very oily and acne prone, but recently saw some improvement with my acne after completely overhauling my terrible baby wipes and sudocrem routine. However, it now seems to have gone very dry and my acne is flaring again. I am planning on trying out PC’s salicylic but I also use Effaclar Duo (UK version without BP). Is this too much salicylic and could it dry out my skin even more?

    Also, I have been using Caudalie Divine Oil overnight for a moisture boost. It seems to work, but is it actually alright to put on my face?

    This is just out of interest and only if you have time… what is your opinion on mineral oil in makeup/skin care? I got into “proper” skincare through Caroline Hirons, a skincare guru over here, and she HATES the stuff but I’m a Pharmacology student and we’ve studied it’s use for a variety of skin problems, so I’m not convinced.

    Would love to get your opinions if you have time!

    Thanks

    Posted by Rosie Connolly | August 27, 2013, 1:36 pm
    • Yay, so glad to have you join us! And I apologize that it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I’d be happy to answer your questions.

      From what I know, the Effaclar Duo in the US contains BP and a salicylic acid derivative, which has not been shown to be more effective than SA. Furthermore, it’s present at only 0.4%, which is quite low. You may want to try a true SA product first. The PC ones are some of the best, though I admit that they can be a bit pricey for UK customers. However, I don’t know of any other UK brand that carries a well-made SA product. But it shouldn’t be too drying, assuming that you use an appropriate moisturizer and SA product.

      And you can use the Cauadalie oil, but it’s just a mixture of non-fragrant plant oils with some essential oils mixed in. I wouldn’t say it’s the best moisturizer, since water is pretty much essential, but if it’s suitable and doesn’t irritate your skin (due to the essential oil content), then you can continue to use it.

      Finally, as to the question about mineral oil, it only contains carcinogenic compounds (keep in mind that mineral oil is not a single compound; rather a mixture of them) when not properly refined. But all cosmetic grade mineral oil, which is transparent, is highly refined and NOT carcinogenic. Here’s the safety sheets on petrolatum (where mineral oil is derived from), and that for mineral oil: http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics1440.htm

      http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics1597.htm

      Let me know if you have any other questions, and once again, welcome!

      Posted by John | September 3, 2013, 5:11 pm
  2. Hello!

    A few questions if you’ve got the time ..

    My skin concerns are: normal/combo skin, enlarged pores on my cheeks and forehead, dehydration lines on forehead and under eyes, redness around nose, blackheads on nose and chin & some congestion/occasional pimples on chin and jaw line.

    I’ve got the following products: neutrogena extra gentle cleanser, hydraluron serum, paula’s choice CLEAR Regular Strength Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution, paula’s choice 2% bha lotion, neostrata ultrasmoothing lotion 10% AHA, tretinoin .05%, shiseido anessa 50 + sunscreen, elizabeth arden visible difference moisturiser (not so sure about this one .. ).

    I have no idea how to combine these products, i.e. when to use what and in which order. Could you please help with putting a routine together using the above or any additional products? I’ve done heaps of googling but can’t seem to find the right information, so here’s hoping you’ll be able to help.

    Thanks for reading!

    Posted by Rene | July 16, 2013, 5:14 am
    • Hi Rene,

      It seems like I never have enough time, but I’ll always respond to your guys’ comments.

      Based on what you’ve told me, I believe your routine is a bit too complicated and redundant that it’s making your skin go a bit haywire. I’m not saying that a complicated skin care routine is bad. It takes more trial & error and experience to properly balance.

      Let’s deal with things one at a time:

      1. Pick just one BHA product to use. Since you’re layering quite a few products, it’s probably better to choose the solution over the lotion. The former is also more appropriate for your apparent skin type.
      2. Consider switching out the Arden product with something that’s packaged properly and contains some more helpful ingredients. At a similar price range, the Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer for Combination Oily to Oily Skin, would be a good option.
      3. However, I’d imagine that removing the next product will make the biggest difference in your skin. The Shiseido Anessa product contains a very high amount of alcohol. Because you’re using so many ingredients that alter the thickness and resiliency of the stratum corneum (the top dead layer of skin cells), the alcohol will have an even more potent ability to dry out the skin. It’s likely the main cause of the dry, flaky or “dehydrated” skin that you describe. Consider finding another sunscreen for the time being, just to see if discontinuing use of this product reduces the dry skin you experience.

      Finally, as for the order of application, well it really depends on you. None of these products can’t or shouldn’t be used together, so it’s really a matter of preference and personal results.

      You can perhaps layer the CLEAR solution under the 10% AHA on one night, and then the tretinoin under the Clinique moisturizer the next night.

      During the daytime, you can use the CLEAR solution or the Clinique moisturizer under another sunscreen, or use both (in that order) if you’re not going to be outside.

      Does that make sense?

      Keep me updated with your situation!

      Posted by John | July 18, 2013, 5:20 pm
      • Hi John,

        Thanks for that information. I’ve been following your routine as described above (aside from the Clinique moisturiser which is out of my budget at $64, I purchased the EA moisturiser for $20). My skin is still the same as previously described – blackheads, flakey under makeup, dehydration lines, congestion and breakouts around jawline.

        Can you recommend any sunscreens and moisturisers for under $40?

        What are your thoughts on rosehip oil, nivea soft and clarisonic?

        I look forward to hearing your response and the publication of your ideal skincare routine

        Rene

        Posted by Rene | August 12, 2013, 3:06 am
        • Hm, sorry to hear that you haven’t been seeing any progress. It’s time to step up to using benzoyl peroxide. Start with a 2.5% solution and put them on any existing breakouts, and see how things go from there.

          Also, consider discontinuing use of the tretinoin for a week and see if that reduces the amount of flaky skin. Tretinoin can be quite irritating, and the formulation isn’t the best for oily skin types.

          Finally, as both SA and GA have not been working for you, your last resort in terms of hydroxy acids, is to try lactic acid. Because of its presence in normal skin–something that may have yet to be elucidated implications, not to mention the research demonstrating its efficacy for dry skin, it may be the answer you’ve been looking for. Something like the DHC AHA Cream is great: http://www.dermstore.com/product_Renewing+AHA+Cream_37987.htm

          Let me know how things go.

          Oh and the Clarisonic is just another form of manual exfoliation–basically an expensive washcloth. Rosehip oil is just like any other non-fragrant plant oil, such as olive or jojoba oil.

          Posted by John | August 12, 2013, 8:50 am
  3. Hi John,
    I asked questions a few weeks ago on how to treat my acne using Paula’s choice products. I am so happy to say i have seen drastic improvements on my face since i began that routine.I also succeeded in purchasing BP 5% from pharmacy and it has really helped me alot. I get very few breakouts now. My face is also so smooth.

    However i still have to tackle my spots and pigmentation left by acne.I am thinking of introducing Paula’s Daily Smoothing treatment.Infact i already ordered samples.How would you advise me to use it.Can it be used in one application along with Paula’s salicylic acid exfoliant and the topical benzoyl peroxide. Is it too much exfoliating?

    Posted by Angela | July 15, 2013, 6:35 am
    • Hi Angela,

      Yes! I’m so happy to hear that your patience paid off. :)

      I don’t believe the Daily Smoothing treatment will make too much of a difference in treating the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH); it’s glycolic acid (GA) content is low and watch out for the cetyl alcohol–it may increase the likelihood of clogged pores. Without consistent and intensive treatment and sun protection, your best bet is to simply wait for the PIH to fade. That being said however, using the Daily Smoothing treatment certainly can’t hurt.

      If you were to use it, since you have a lot of your acne under control now, consider alternating it with the salicylic acid (SA) exfoliant. Use SA, the GA, then SA, etc… You can use the benzoyl peroxide throughout.

      Let me know how things go!

      Posted by John | July 18, 2013, 4:55 pm
  4. Hey John!

    I have a couple of questions about discolouration. On my the back of my arms I have quite a few large brown patches (not spots), and I was wondering if it is possible to get rid of them. (BTW, I also have Keratosis Pilaris on my arms, too). I don’t know if sun damage is the issue because I rarely go outside – I’m kind of a hermit, lol – and when I do, I cover up. I don’t use any products on my body. I’m turning 19 this year and I am a person of colour, if that matters. Also, I’ve noticed my body is different shades. My stomach, back, and bottom are significantly darker than my chest and hands. I would like to even that out and get those areas to be the same shade as my hands/chest. Do you know of any products/ingredients that can help?

    Also, for my face: my forehead, too, is a lot darker than the rest of my face. I use Clean&Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin, Etival Clarifying Soothing Pore Reducing Toner, Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid, Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin SPF15/Sephora 8HR Moisturizing Mattifying Sunscreen. I have combination skin: my forehead and nose are oily (especially my nose), my cheeks are normal, and I sometimes get dry around my chin.

    I know this is kind of long, but I’d really appreciate it if you answer. Thank you. :)

    Posted by Naomi | July 2, 2013, 5:56 pm
    • Hello there, and I’m happy to help!

      It makes sense that those large patches on the body are not caused by the sun, since sun damage rarely presents as so, AND you haven’t had sun exposure there. But unfortunately that’s all I can tell you with any sort of confidence. I mean, it can be a manifestation of some internal condition, hormonal imbalances and/or changes, or it could even be some type of fungal infection such as tinea versicolor. I know that sounds unpleasant, but it’s actually more common than most people think. Standard skin lightening topical treatments are typically not very effective for these types of conditions.

      As for your face, the same comments apply. However, that may have to do more with the sun, since both of the sunscreens that you mentioned provide very little UVA protection. UVA light increases tanning, and makes any hyperpigmentation more apparent. But because you noted that only your forehead is darker, I’m still banking on the other theories at least partially. If it really bothers you, please don’t hesitate on seeing a dermatologist.

      Posted by John | July 2, 2013, 9:11 pm
  5. Hi John,
    Thanks for the speedy reply.This is a brief history of my skin care.I used to have relatively clear skin.By that i mean i used to breakout but no so much.I would breakout, however within a few days it is gone.Sometime last year,i decided to really adress the situation.I read about the Clinique Anti-Blemish 3-step system and it felt like just what i had been looking for.How wrong i was.I broke out horribly.For the first time in my life my breakouts became very painful and massive.I would feel it forming deep into my skin.Realising my face was instead getting worse,i stopped using all the products.By then i had breakouts,blemishes and pigmentation marks.

    Then i later read that natural was the best option.With my desire for a clear and smooth complexion,i started using African Black soap and unrefined shea butter.With this i also broke out horribly and my face also became more oily.
    I finally dropped this also.
    Tired of trying and failing, i decided to give my face a rest.By then i had to deal with blackheads,whiteheads,inflammed breakouts.I breakout much around my T-zone.At this point i started using a Nivea facial wash and toner for dry/sensitive skin.This was really just a joke as i knew it wasnt adressing any of my facial issues.

    While still searching, i stumbled upon Paula’s products.I read so many rave reviews and i convinced myself, this must be the miracle i have been seeking all along.I first ordered samples of the skin balancing system.They were good but i was still breaking out.Then i decided to try to Clear system which is for acne sufferers like me.Since i began using this system(2weeks), i am noticing changes.My pores around the area where i breakout used to be quite large but they are reducing.My face is also really smooth but for my T-zone where i am still breaking out.My face is no longer oily.

    The question i am asking myself is ‘why am i still breaking out this much’.Sometimes painful and inflammed.I can usually feel them beneath my skin already forming.I stopped using the Clear toner twice a day because my forehead was really flaky and would even peel sometimes.It also gave my face a shine(not an oily shine though).The Clinique clearing moisturiser sold in Europe doesnot contain BP.It does contain BHA which is far down on the ingredients list.In Europe BP can only be bought at the pharmacy.I am also currently using The Body Shop Seaweed mattifying lotion with spf 15, however i plan on purchasing Paula’s Skin Balancing moisturiser with spf 30 in the coming days.

    What do you think is wrong with my routine and what changes can i make to it.I look forward to your reply.Thanks

    Posted by Angela | June 28, 2013, 8:22 am
    • Hm, that’s too bad about the BP.

      However, like I stated last time, give your current routine a few more weeks, taking note what side effects (like dryness/flakiness, increased/decreased acne, type of acne) you are experiencing. As for sunscreens, you may want to go with an inorganic sunscreen, since organic ones tend to be more irritating. I’m not sure if you have access to brands like EltaMD an MD Solar Sciences where you are located, but they have some great formulations that are not only tinted, but are also pretty matte in finish–something that an oily skin person like yourself would enjoy. They tend to wear well throughout the day, too. However, since you’re in Europe (though I don’t know which country), you do have access to organic & hybrid sunscreens that are way more potent than the ones available here in the US. So I personally wouldn’t go with either the Body Shop or the Paula’s Choice sunscreens, since they are far less potent than others that you can easily access.

      But yeah, hold out for just a few more weeks and see what happens. If your condition hasn’t improved or has worsened, we can discuss further treatments such as using glycolic and/or lactic acid, along with azelaic acid. In the meantime, check if the latter is available to you without a prescription, because if it is, that’s an excellent option.

      I hope that helps!

      Posted by John | June 30, 2013, 6:29 pm
  6. hi John,

    Thanks for all the information on your blog. I have learnt alot.Thanks for sharing.

    Please i currently suffer from acne.I have got a new regimen(about 2weeks now) however i believe there is something lacking.That’s why i am seeking some advice.

    I am currently using Paula’s Choice Clear Extra Strength sytem without the benzoyl peroxide product.I live in Europe and benzoyl peroxide can only be bought at the pharmacy.In place of that i recenly purchased the Clinique anti-blemish clearing moisturiser because it is highly rated by Paula.I also use Paula’s Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate serum and finally Paula’s Resist Anti-aging clear skin hydrator.I use all these products AM and PM except for the Clear toner which i use only at night.

    Since beginning this regime,my skin tone is alot brighter and my face is alot smoother.However i am still getting breakouts.They arenot as huge as they used to be before.

    What do you think is wrong with my regimen.Do i need to include an AHA product?I’ve been through so many products and i’m absolutely relying on Paula’s.However i am aware that if idont use the products properly,they won’t help me either.

    Waiting on your opinion.Thanks

    Posted by Angela | June 27, 2013, 5:45 am
    • You’re welcome, and thanks for reading! I’d be happy to help.

      It’s slightly odd that you said you can only get benzoyl peroxide (BP) from the pharmacy. The Clinique moisturizer contains BP, at least the US version does. Maybe it’s different in your country?

      But yeah, we can certain discuss changing your routine. But first, can you describe your breakouts? Are they mostly blackheads/whiteheads or more inflammatory manifestations? Are there cysts?

      Also, it takes time to treat your skin. I’d give your routine a good 4-6 weeks before considering a change, especially if this is your first “acne routine.” I mean, you’re noticing an improvement, right?

      One thing we can change is to use the CLEAR toner morning and evening. However, you stated that you don’t do that. Can I ask the reason?

      Get back to me and we can go from there!

      Posted by John | June 27, 2013, 6:36 pm
  7. Thank you John for all of this wonderful information. I just want to clarify…is it OK to use an AHA topical lotion, then after a half hour or so apply tretinoin? Does this not deactivate the tretinoin. Thanks so much.

    Posted by Kim | June 13, 2013, 8:00 pm
    • Most likely (but I’ll get into why you may want to use those two ingredients separately in the Ideal Routine Page; keep in mind that tretinoin is NOT retinol or retinal) that should be okay, although it may be a bit irritating to use both at the same time. There are just better combinations of ingredients to use. But of course, that’s your prerogative.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Posted by John | June 14, 2013, 1:13 pm
  8. I should probably stop researching, and leave well enough alone. But now I’ve read about using BHA a few minutes before Retin A at night to increase it’s effectiveness. If feel like I’ve hit a plateau. it supposedly gets that Retin A right to the good stuff! what do you think?

    Posted by Lisa | March 5, 2013, 3:30 am
    • Never stop researching! Lol! :)

      I actually haven’t read that anywhere before nor have I thought of doing so, though now I can see how that would theoretically make sense in certain situations. But anyways, I did a quick search on PubMed, and I found no study to corroborate this claim. Can you post the link where you read this information?

      Posted by John | March 5, 2013, 12:47 pm
    • Sorry, I pasted the whole article, couldn’t get the link to work.

      Skin Biology healthyskin.infopop.cc Forums Products Healthy Skin AHA, BHA & Retin-A

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      carrot
      posted 01 August 2010 12:05 AM
      Dr. Pickart,

      Do need your advice!

      I got confused by the info I gathered from the web.

      Can we use AHA/BHA with Retin-A in the same evening?

      I’d like to use a 2% BHA toner followed by Lascal, CP Serum & then Retin-A.

      From the internet, some say that AHA & BHA are not compatible with retinoids; some say they are not.

      What are your thoughts?

      Posts: 43 | Location: Texas | Registered: 09 January 2010
      carrot
      posted 07 August 2010 11:28 PM Hide Post
      Dr. Pickart,

      May you shed light on the effects of AHA & BHA on tretinoin.

      Posts: 43 | Location: Texas | Registered: 09 January 2010
      Dr. Pickart

      posted 08 August 2010 01:17 PM Hide Post
      They have different actions but can work together.

      1. The AHAs and BHAs remove older skin. This allows newer skin to rise to the surface. AHAs work more on the skin’s surface. BHAs work more on the deep layers of the skin.

      2. The copper peptides help adult stem cells create new skin cells. The retinoic acid (retin-A) acts to helps push this process along by helping the new cells differentiate into cells needed by the skin.

      3. Retinoids is a broad word. Retinoic acid reduces skin oils. But retinol (vitamin A alcohol) can increase skin oil under some circumstances.

      4. Generally we recommend using the Retin-A after the copper peptides. But you can use them with the hydroxy acids.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Dr. Pickart, 08 August 2010 06:18 PM

      Posts: 6759 | Location: Skin Biology | Registered: 15 September 2004

      Posted by Lisa | March 5, 2013, 4:33 pm
      • Huh interesting. It’s not an article, rather it’s just a forum where someone made a comment.

        More impotantly however, I don’t think “Dr. Pickart” actually says that SA helps to improve the efficacy of tretinoin. So I’m not quite sure where you got that idea. :(

        Posted by John | March 6, 2013, 2:03 pm
      • How do you suggest incorporating Niacin and aha/bha into my routine? So far, I do Vitamin C in the AM, Retin A 5 nights a week. The other two nights a week, I do an aha peel. been reading about Niacin. I want to add it in, not sure when. also hoping to increase Aha use to daily, not sure when. Thanks for your help!

        Posted by Lisa | March 20, 2013, 2:56 pm
        • I’d recommend using niacinamide after your Retin-A application, making sure to wait an hour–something that most doctors already instruct to do.

          Posted by John | March 20, 2013, 7:22 pm
          • thanks! I started. Niacinamide moisturizer after Retin A, then within a day or two added a strong AHA (alpha hydrox soufflé in the morning after the Vitamin C serum. whoa! Back to the dry scaly patches. Not sure which one caused it. stopped both new products, trying to decide how to move forward. I read that the ideal routine includes: 1. Retin A 2. Niacin 3. Vitamin C (antioxidants) 4.. Sunscreen 5. Aha/bha/exfoliation.

            what I’ve learned would pair up 1 and 2 at night and 3,4,5 in the morning. not sure which led to the flakes and ugliness, niacin or the aha. What would you do?

            Posted by Lisa | March 21, 2013, 3:20 am
            • Mhm, nice work! I see that you’re paying attention to the Ideal Routine. :) They indeed are comprised of hydroxyl acids, retinoids, niacinamide, antioxidants, and sunscreen.

              But anyways, I’m almost 100% sure that it’s the AHA that’s causing the flakiness.

              Posted by John | March 21, 2013, 4:50 pm
  9. makes sense, thanks! conflicting information is out there ( Dr Bailey’s site), so allow me to beat this to death: I’ve hit the age (48), and want the powerhouse of skin care. my Retin A and DIY Vitamin C (l-ascorbic acid at about 18%) are doing a great job. but I feel like I need to add a third thing (aha, sacacylic, glycolic etc) I recently got Bare Minerals skin revved upper and don’t know how to incorporate it. I read that it cannot be used with vitamin c, so the only option is to use it at night alternating with the retin a. I don’t want to give up any retin a nights! Waiting for your ideal routine to spell it out:)

    Posted by Lisa | February 4, 2013, 4:21 am
    • Sure I’m happy to answer all of your questions. :)

      I’ve actually already addressed this issue in the comment sections of this post: http://www.futurederm.com/2012/10/25/should-niacinamide-and-l-ascorbic-acid-be-used-together/ Since there are 90+ comments, I’ll just post the relevant reader’s (two) questions and my corresponding answers.

      FYI, I answer several questions actually, and I’d recommend reading through everything. . It might help you understand even better.

      Q:

      “Hi John,

      I have a question that relates to your response to Nook above. I also use glycolic acid, but in the evening. I thought its use in the morning was NOT recommended? Is it actually OK to use it in the morning, as long as I use a sun block afterward?

      Also, I read (in this webpage: http://www.theherbarie.com/Niacinamide-USP-Vitamin-B3.html) that Niacinamide cannot be used at a PH below 5, so I assume that it cannot be paired with glycolic acid either, right?

      Taking all of this into account, would you approve of the following regimen?

      AM: Glycolic acid product + vitamin C product followed by a 30-minute-wait, and then: Olay moisturizer (Complete Sensitive Skin SPF 30) with Niacinamide (I should find another sun block without Niacinamide, but I’ve used this one for years and love it so much… I know you recommended the 30-minute-wait to others above, so I am hoping this will work…)

      Evening: Retinol product + Olay serum with Niacinamide

      Thanks in advance John for your invaluable advice!

      France

      PS
      Your idea to create an “ideal routine” portal/page for all skin types on your blog sound like pure genius to me!”

      AND

      “After writing my comment above, I looked up a link that someone else posted about Vitamin C’s “half life”, and found the following information in Dr. Bailey’s blog: “…vitamin c and glycolic acid can’t both be on the skin at the same time…”, and then, even more confusing: “The half-life of vitamin C in the skin is four days, meaning it sticks around for a while.”

      Wow, I am so confused now! If it is true that vitamin C stays in the skin for 4 days, then maybe Niacinamide should not be used at all by someone who uses a vitamin C product?

      Also, what do you think about the use of glycolic acid and vitamin C together, taking into account Dr. Bailey’s comment above?

      Here is the link to Dr. Bailey’s blog, where I found this info:
      http://www.drbaileyskincare.com/blog/whats-the-best-anti-oxidant-skin-care-product/

      Thank you so much John for taking the time to read everybody’s comments and replying… Peach wrote “I trust you” at the end of her comment above… I feel the same!!!”

      A:

      “First comment:

      It is OK to use glycolic acid during the daytime. However, it is preferred for evening use, just because it does slightly increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. I mentioned this in my hydroxy acids series, specifically in part III. Have a read if you’re interested:

      http://www.futurederm.com/2012/05/10/hydroxy-acids-part-iii-common-misconceptions-of-hydroxy-acids/

      But considering the antioxidants and sunscreen, this slight increase in sensitivity shouldn’t have too large of an impact. I too only use glycolic acid at nighttime, but for Nook, I just didn’t want to change her routine too much. Is Nook even a girl’s name? Lol. Anyways… moving on.

      It’s not that niacinamide CAN’T be used below a pH of 5, it’s just that that some of it may convert to nicotinic acid, which may result in some redness and flushing. However, I think that the 5-7 pH range was given ith the idea of “better safe than sorry” in mind. But in reality, it has little relevance. For example, this study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jps.2600510710/abstract, indicates that the MINIMUM conversion rate happens when the pH is between 4 and 6. So, glycolic acid products are typically formulated between pHs of 3 and 4. And waiting 30 minutes after application (something that I recommended for all acidic products), should take care of this interaction. And from personal experience (I use a glycolic and/or salicylic acid product at nighttime, wait 30+ minutes, then apply a niacinamide product) I have never experienced noticeable skin flushing, which suggests that no significant amount of nicotinic acid was formed.

      Does that make sense?

      As for your routine: You already know that I’d would prefer for you to use a non-niacinamide sunscreen, but hey, it’s completely your choice! It’s still way better than using no sunscreen. The 30 minutes wait time may theoretically reduce the complexation interaction between L-ascorbic acid and niacinamide, but that’s just it. We don’t know; can only hope for the best.

      But the rest of your routine seems fine.

      Second comment:

      Relax! Don’t freak out. While the half life of vitamin C is 4 days, you have to remember that measurement is theoretical and in the absence of things that degrade it: for example sunlight, oxidation processes that occur all the time in the skin, and other sources of free radical generation. So the vitamin C content in your skin doesn’t stay static and at the same level in real-life scenarios because it’s constantly being used up. I mean you want to protect your skin as much as possible, right? So it makes absolutely no sense to only apply vitamin C every 4 days. It’s a ridiculous notion.

      As for using glycolic acid with L-ascorbic acid, I have no idea why Dr. Bailey would say that. There is absolutely no documentation that supports her claim. Furthermore, when she responds to the various people asking her about it, she doesn’t show any evidence nor explain WHY they can’t be used together. I can think of no reason why they can’t be used together, except for the fact that some glycolic acid products are formulated with a pH above 3.5; they don’t typically go above 4.0 however. Now, a pH of 3.5 or less is recommended for L-ascorbic acid to properly penetrate into the skin. However, that number isn’t absolute. The diction makes it sound like a product with a pH of like 3.51 would be completely useless. And that’s not true at all. L-ascorbic acid is like any acid; it obeys all the same rules. Not to get too much into detail, just know that L-ascorbic acid can definitely be used with glycolic acid. I mean, L-ascorbic acid’s pKa is 4.17, while glycolic acid’s is actually lower: 3.83. I’ll definitely be doing a complete post on this in the near future. I may make it a two part series; we’ll see.

      But in the meantime, here are two brief examples to ease your mind: Both the two phrases that Dr. Bailey quotes: “Vitamin C has a half-life of 4 days” and “L-ascorbic acid requires a pH of 3.5 or less to penetrate the skin” are from studies done by the people behind the brand Skinceuticals. Here’s one of their studies: http://www.nature.com/jid/journal/v125/n4/full/5603565a.html. Now, if L-ascorbic acid isn’t compatible with glycolic acid, why in the WORLD would Skinceuticals include a product that contains BOTH ingredients?! http://www.dermstore.com/product_C+++AHA_1911.htm Clearly, they can be used together.

      Finally, as for the niacinamide, just try not to use it together with L-ascorbic acid. Forget the half-life in 4 days thing with L-ascorbic acid. It has no significant relevance.

      I hope that helps!”

      Let me know if you have further questions!

      Posted by John | February 4, 2013, 4:30 pm
      • thanks. This sentence is cut and pasted from your article, the five things your skin cannot live without on future dream. It says not to use aha with vitamin c. So when can I use aha if I do retin a at night and vitamin c in he morning?

        3. Antioxidants
        The Benefits: The body defends against free radicals (one of four major contributors to skin aging) with antioxidants, which impede or slow the chain reaction. Antioxidants like beta carotene andvitamins C and E “break the chain,” stopping free radicals from ripping electrons off of other molecules, while other antioxidants, like superoxide dismutase, catalase and glutathione peroxidase, slow the free radical chain reaction by stabilizing the unstable, reactive free radicals. As the body does not produce or ingest enough antioxidants to neutralize all of the free radicals, which come from processes that are both endogenous (within the body, such as human metabolism) and exogenous (outside the body, from pollution, smoking, alcohol, and UV radiation, amongst other sources), free radicals accumulate a great deal of damage within the body over time (WebMD). As a result, many experts recommend use of antioxidants and sunscreen to prevent UV-induced free radical damage. According to Sheldon Pinnell, a dermatology professor at Duke University of School of Medicine who created Cellex-C about twenty years ago and later assisted in the creation of Skinceuticals CE Ferulic: “I was interested in how it [topical vitamin C, an antioxidant] could stimulate collagen synthesis. But we found that it was really good for protecting against sunlight.” As many new antioxidants are coming out over time, a rating system called EPF (environmental protection factor) has been proposed to rank antioxidant strength.
        When to use them (from Allure): In the morning, after cleansing, before sunscreen. (It also does not hurt to use them at night in conjunction with hydroquinone and EITHER retinoids OR AHAs.)
        What to use with: Sunscreen, as antioxidants boost the protective capacity of sunscreen against UV-induced free radical damage.
        What not to use with: Take care when your antioxidant is vitamin C. Do not use vitamin C with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) — the two acidic ingredients can irritate the skin.
        When to toss: Six months after opening. Also, take care not to expose your vitamin C products (those with L-ascorbic acid in particular) to light, heat, and air, which can destabilize the vitamin C.

        Sent from my iPad

        Posted by Lisa Mueller | February 4, 2013, 5:29 pm
        • Huh.

          Well actually, I didn’t author that post: http://www.futurederm.com/2008/01/01/five-ingredients-your-skin-cant-live-withoutand-how-to-use-them/ Nicki did.

          And while I don’t agree completely with the article, she does state that you won’t want to use both ingredients together as they “can irritate the skin.” However, she doesn’t say that they CAN’T be used together. Irritation is a very personal thing, as it will vary from person to person. However, there’s no chemical reason NOT to use them together. For example, there’s no negative interaction between them, like that which occurs between niacinamide and L-ascorbic acid.

          Does that all make sense?

          Posted by John | February 4, 2013, 5:40 pm
          • This is the last time I will bug you, I promise: After much research, I trust your site over all others. I use prescription Retin A every night. I love using this every night and have just worked up to 7 nights a week. I use a home made Vitamin C serum each morning and love it! These 2 are a one two punch that is working well. I feel like I should add an AHA/glycolic moisturizer/primer as a 3rd part, but don’t know how. AM: Exfoliating Cleanser, Vitamin C, CeRave, sunscreenPM: Exfoliating cleaner, Retin A, sometimes CeRave. How do you add AHA’s to this? You say, go ahead and use it with Vitamin C, so now the next issue: When? My gut tells me that AHA is exfoliating, so if I apply that and then put Vitamin C over it, wouldn’t the AHA slough the Vitamin C right off my skin? But if I put Vitamin C on first, won’t the AHA exfoliate all the benefits right off? Just spell it out for me in order if you will! Thanks!

            Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2013 01:40:46 +0000 To: lisamueller@live.com

            Posted by Lisa Mueller | February 5, 2013, 6:22 am
            • That’s a very good question. And don’t worry about bothering me. I’m here to help.

              I’d personally recommend applying the AHA before, rather than after the vitamin C. This is because yes, some of the vitamin C will go into the cells that are then going to be exfoliated off the skin. Overall however, the stratum corneum will be thinner, meaning that the vitamin C has less layers of skin to go through before penetrating into the viable layers underneath, which is the most important goal.

              If you apply the vitamin C first, more will get go into the cells of the stratum corneum, which will then be exfoliated off. Less vitamin C overall, will go into the viable layers of the skin.

              However, keep in mind that this is mostly theoretical and postulative musings. And in the end, the order of application between vitamin C and glycolic acid shouldn’t make that large of a difference in terms of efficacy.

              Also, have you considered mixing the two ingredients? Since their optimal pH values are similar, they should be compatible.

              I hope that all makes sense.

              Posted by John | February 5, 2013, 6:01 pm
  10. help! I use prescription Retin A at night. Vitamin C every morning. I want to add an aha moisturizer, primer. can I put it on top of my Vitamin C right away?

    Posted by Lisa | February 2, 2013, 4:38 pm

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