Glycolic Acid and Vitamin C: Can you Mix them Together?

Now that we are at the height of summer, you probably have already heard about glycolic acid or overheard a friend mention Vitamin C. These are arguably two of the best skincare ingredients that can take on a summer's aftermath of bad decisions and dermatological slip-ups that are bound to happen when the sun is blazing hot for over 16 hours a day. But can you use glycolic acid and vitamin C together? Is the combination of AHA and vitamin C as effective as some skin experts’ support? Let's find out.

To answer the question, "Can you use glycolic acid and vitamin C together?'' It's imperative to look at each of these ingredients separately and analyze what exactly they bring to the table as far as skincare goes. Vitamin C mix, for starters, is a complexion-improvement powerhouse. An antioxidant that knows no bounds when it comes to neutralizing environmental aggressors.  Glycolic acid, on the other side of the divide, is an alpha hydroxy acid exfoliant. So, the million-dollar question remains, can you use AHA and vitamin C together? Let's get cracking, shall we?

Layering skincare ingredients is not anything new; since time immemorial human beings have devised ingenious ways of using two or more facial products at a go. Originally, it was designed to help kill two or more birds with a single stone, although later spa owners found out that it was equally relaxing as well.  It is no surprise that the question of, can you mix vitamin C and AHA, continues to elicit mixed opinions from different factions in the industry.

What is Glycolic Acid Used For?

As mentioned earlier, glycolic acid is a popular skin care powerhouse that is both a humectant and an alpha hydroxy acid (AHA). Considered to be the golden standard of Alpha Hydroxy Acids, it is a potent keratolytic in its most basic element. In simpler language, it implies that it is capable of exfoliating and sloughing off dead skin cells from your epidermis thereby triggering a regrowth of new, fresher and brighter cells in replacement. It's ability to oversee this kind of unique exfoliation has seen it been widely used to address the following skin concerns.

  • Dull skin and sunspots
  • Acne
  • Premature aging
  • Dryness
  • Wrinkles and fine lines
  • Hyperpigmentation

It should not come as a surprise that exfoliation action overseen by glycolic acid can fade fine lines, banish common wrinkles, clear acne and, most importantly, do away with hyperpigmentation. It is after all a humectant, meaning that it is chemically capable of attracting water molecules from the outside environment to itself. By drawing water droplets to your freshly exfoliated skin, it is capable of not just hydrating it but also plumping it up enough to prevent the formation of new wrinkles, crow's feet or fine lines. This, of course, is the reason well-formulated Glycolic Acid Exfoliating Pads should be part and parcel of your grooming regimen.

Moreover, glycolic acid has also been shown to improve the rate of penetration and absorption of other ingredients by the skin. This is probably why most people keep asking questions such as, "Can I use vitamin C with AHA?" Glycolic acid could, on paper, make your vitamin C product more effective than it currently is, but more on that in a moment.

Vitamin C for Skin Care

To solve the glycolic acid vitamin C puzzle, it is also crucial to shed some light on some of the many uses that ascorbic acid adds to one's skincare routine. Even before talking about vitamin C interaction with other skincare superstars, it is vital to point out that ascorbic acid is chiefly quite a formidable antioxidant. Intrinsically, it can aid in the defense against UV light damage, neutralize environmental pollutants and cancel out common aggressors such as free radicals.

Other uses of vitamin C in the skincare department revolve around;

  • Lightening dark spots: Just like AHAs, vitamin C has shown some remarkable potential in getting rid of dark patches also known as hyperpigmentation. Nonetheless, it is not as potent or as effective in brightening severely damaged skin like glycolic acid. This, yet again, adds to the proposition of using glycolic acid and vitamin C together in the quest of getting the ultimate elusive flawless skin.
  • Smoothes wrinkles: There's a reason Vitamin C is an active ingredient in a majority of anti-aging products, it has demonstrated a remarkable ability to reduce the conspicuousness of wrinkles when used for at least three months continuously. Research also shows that people who eat a diet rich in ascorbic acid tend to have fewer wrinkles overall.
  • Helps to boost collagen: Your body tends to lose its collagen stores naturally as you get older. This is the protein responsible for giving your skin and hair structure and volume. It has been observed that topical application of vitamin C can stimulate the skin to synthesize more collagen deposits while also maintaining the protein that you already have by protecting it from damage by free radicals.
  • Promotes healing: Vitamin C has decent skin-healing potential and it is known to accelerate the repair process that can close up acne lesions and sores. What's more, the fact that it is involved in the synthesis of collagen implies that it plays a critical role as far as keeping the skin in proper physical shape.
  • Fades acne scars: Vitamin C is believed to aid in making scars less noticeable. And by making your old scars less visible, can contribute immensely to fading acne marks and lightening dark spots.

Can You Use Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid Together?

Now that we have outlined the various separate contributions of each of these skincare ingredients to one's skin, the question now remains, can you use AHA and vitamin C together?

Well, for starters, it's crucial to point out that vitamin mixing with an alpha hydroxy acid is not such a straightforward matter. It all boils down to the prevailing pH levels of your skin. You see, vitamin C has the not-so-popular reputation of being rather unstable if not formulated into a serum or a balanced lotion before being deployed topically. As such, manufacturers of vitamin C formulas tend to restrict the pH of the formulas to the low end of the spectrum (at about 3) to make them as effective as possible in delivering remarkable results.

Glycolic acid, on the other hand, tends to have a much lower pH than this (sometimes as low as 0.08). It, therefore, means that using both vitamin C and glycolic acid together (either as a mixture or layering one on top of the other) can lower the skin’s pH to be too acidic to the point of triggering flare-ups, rashes and redness. And this can be quite frustrating to some people considering the immense potential that each of these ingredients holds.

But does this mean that you cannot use vitamin C and glycolic acid together? Of course not! You just have to be a little smart about how you are about it.

Here's the thing; glycolic acid has been shown to supercharge vitamin C. So, using vitamin C with AHA is not by itself a bad thing for your skin. In fact, by lifting away the dead and dulling surface cells, glycolic acid paves the way for improved ascorbic acid delivery and turbo-boosts the cell renewal process which is critical for smooth and visibly glowing skin. That essentially means that there's a lot to play for if you can devise a way to use these two.

One of the most ingenious ways of combining AHA with vitamin C is by using Bloommy’s Glycolic Acid pads as an exfoliant just before going to bed to get rid of debris, dirt and dead skin cells. Not only does this keep the skin healthy and balanced but it also paves the way for the vitamin C serum that you should use in the next morning to brighten and protect your precious complexion. Doing this ensures averts and lessens the probability of two ingredients interacting in such a manner that it becomes counterproductive for your skin.

The Takeaway

As much as there are endless benefits and possibilities of using AHA and vitamin C together, you have to be cautious over how you approach this unique ingredient combination. People with extremely sensitive skin should avoid using the two skincare powerhouses at the same time but instead stick to using them at different times of the day to minimize the chances of vitamin C interaction with the low pH of AHAs that could exacerbate their symptoms.

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