4 skin-friendly active ingredient combinations you should try now

You already know the importance of active ingredients in your skincare—Vitamin C brightens, retinol exfoliates and hyaluronic acid plumps—but how well do these super-powered ingredients play well with others? We spoke to the pros for a low-down on what you should layer on to make sure you’re not hurting your skin while you create your own cocktails.

How do you layer active ingredients?

Before, we delve into ingredients, here’s a rule of thumb of effective layering. “First prepare the skin so that it is at its most receptive. This is usually achieved with essences, and micro-emulsions, which wet the skin, sometimes even reducing the critical surface tension of the skin and thereby enhancing the penetration of actives. On top of this should be your targeted treatments—serums with targeted actives—as those that are the most potent treatments in hour skincare routine. The next step should be about locking in the moisture and to ensure that the goodness of the serums is locked in,” explains Prasanthy Gurugubelli, cosmetic chemist and founder of Daughter Earth.

Vitamin C + Ferulic acid

Vitamin C is considered to be one of the most powerful antioxidants that protect the skin from environmental factors like UV rays, dirt and pollution, and free radicals. “It helps to boost collagen production and reduce visible signs of ageing,” says dermatologist Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, founder ISAAC Luxe. However, she warns the most potent form of Vitamin C is vulnerable to light, heat and air. Ferulic acid helps to stabilise it and increases its photo-protection too.

Vitamin C + Vitamin E

Vitamin E is great by itself, but when paired with vitamin C it is more effective in preventing photo-damage than on its own,” says Dr Gupta. Both work by negating free radical damage, but each combat different types of UV. According to Dr Gupta, by adding both into your routine, or using products that contain both, you’re giving your skin double the antioxidant ammunition to fight damage from free radicals.

Hyaluronic acid + Vitamin C

Using brightening Vitamin C with hyaluronic acid is the quickest way to get balanced, happy skin. The result is a cocktail that instantly smooths skin’s texture and visibly reduces fine lines while improving the appearance of skin’s radiance and texture too. If you’re using two different products, Vitamin C goes first. The low pH means that it penetrates the skin quickly.

Retinoids + Peptides

It is a great idea to use both a retinoid- and peptide-based night cream at bedtime believes Dr Gupta. “You get the collagen-building effects of the retinoid, but it also works to improve the penetration of the peptide cream, which can help improve skin’s firmness. Peptide creams contain plenty of emollients, hydrating ingredients that can help counteract the irritating side effects that often come with using a retinoid.”

The article was first published in Vogue


  • Aparrna Gupta

    Transitioning from crafting stories for The Asian Age and Bombay Times to setting beauty trends in Verve, Aparrna Gupta’s journey has always revolved around resonant storytelling. Her prowess in content creation is unparalleled, with articles featured in renowned publications like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, L’Officiel India, Lifestyle Asia, Elle, and Femina. She also excels in content ideation, trend identification, mood board creation, and product styling. Her expertise has proven invaluable to homegrown brands, enabling them to authentically connect with their audience.

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