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Is Using Salicylic Acid And Retinol On The Same Day A Good Idea?

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In a world of skincare cocktails, where mixing ingredients is a daily thing, combining the right ones can be quite challenging. Not to say, a wrong approach can turn into potential irritants or cancel each other out, making them ineffective. Salicylic acid and retinol are two powerhouses in skincare, researched and proved a million times to have myriad benefits. They’re one of the best acne fighters out there, so if you’re struggling with adult acne you should definitely know if you can use salicylic acid and retinol together. Stay tuned; you’re about to find out.

Salicylic acid vs. retinol

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative. It’s added to skincare products to encourage cell renewal, brighten the skin, reduce acne, boost collagen production, and also works as an antioxidant. Retinol works by encouraging cell turnover, removing dead cells, unclogging pores, and leaving behind a healthy glow. 

On the other hand, salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), mega-popular for its acne-reducing power. Salicylic acid exfoliates the skin, decongests pores, and regulates sebum secretion, keeping pimples away.

At a close look, you can see that retinol and salicylic acid have some things in common: they shed away dead cells, unclog pores and encourage skin exfoliation. Also, both salicylic acid and retinol have small molecular weights, meaning they penetrate beneath the epidermis. 

Can you use salicylic acid and retinol together?

To make sure you’re avoiding any skincare pitfalls, don’t use salicylic acid and retinol together by layering one after another as it may damage the protective barrier. Both salicylic acid and retinol cause exfoliation and can make the skin sensitive or even lead to irritations if layered together. Don’t quit yet. There is still a way to use salicylic acid and retinol together. 

How to use salicylic acid and retinol on the same day?

You can use salicylic acid and retinol on the same day by alternating them. And since the sun breaks retinol down and makes the skin more prone to sun damage, leave it for your PM routine. As such, use your salicylic acid product in the morning. Voilà! You get double benefits by using salicylic acid and retinol on the same day, but separately: salicylic acid in the morning and retinol at night.

There’s an exception, though. If you use a salicylic acid cleanser or salicylic acid toner, you can apply your retinol treatment afterward. Cleansers and toners usually contain small concentrations of active ingredients, thus it’s unlikely to interfere with retinol and cause irritations.

Since both salicylic acid and retinol tend to dry the skin, ensure to give your skin hydration too. Pick one of these moisturizers to use after retinoids. And apply sunscreen daily!

Yet, there’s another way you can safely use salicylic acid and retinol together: use them compounded in one product. We like these ones:

Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermafoliant

Dermalogica Multivitamin Thermafoliant

To refine skin texture and enhance firmness, this self-heating polisher is what you need. It blends physical and chemical exfoliants, antioxidants, and botanical oils to retexturize, defend against free radicals damage and nourish the skin. Salicylic acid and retinol are among the first ingredients, one right after another, making the product pretty strong, so never use it more often than three times a week.

Murad Intensive Age Diffusing Serum

Murad Intensive Age Diffusing Serum

This serum is ideal for helping you regain skin thickness and combat dehydration. The mix of acids, glycolic, salicylic, and ascorbic, work with powerhouses like retinol and hyaluronic acid to smooth the skin, unclog pores and promote a youthful glow. The addition of urea, amino acids, green tea, and zinc strengthen the barrier for more resilient skin.

Dr. Dennis Gross Extra Strength Daily Peel

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Exfoliator

Dr. Dennis Gross’s two-step daily peel pads are fueled with skin-loving ingredients that reveal a smooth, hydrated, and youthful complexion — one of the best ways to use salicylic acid and retinol together. The first step infuses skin with glycolic, salicylic, mandelic, lactic acids to reduce the look of wrinkles, acne scars, and pores, while the second step is pre-dosed with retinol resveratrol, adenosine, and copper for anti-aging benefits.

Clinique Fresh Pressed Overnight Booster

Clinique Fresh Pressed Overnight Booster

Salicylic acid and retinol meet in this booster to refresh your skin and get it in its best condition. While collagen, resveratrol, vitamin E, ceramide, and hyaluronic acid plump and moisturize, retinol, salicylic, tartaric, and ferulic acids resurface the skin. This is how luminosity is revealed.

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