Can You Use Vitamin C With Tretinoin? | A Safe Combination?

The most dominating questions relating to skincare revolve around the mixing of any two topical ingredients. We try to ensure that the formulation in our product is safe for us to use. Given the fake advertisements around specific products, doing so becomes all the more important. And then, we only rely on the integrity of their compositions. One such question that lingers the internet searches is can you use vitamin C and tretinoin together?  

Can You Use Vitamin C With Tretinoin

Like Retinol & Niacinamide, people get confused about Vitamin C & Tretinoin, and the answer is yes, and no. It depends on many factors while considering whether or not to use them together. Here we discussed all the possible grounds for using them together and when not to. So, let’s begin!  

Can You Use Vitamin C With Tretinoin? | Do They Complement Each Other?

Vitamin C and tretinoin are widely used ingredients in skincare products. They have their specialties and inhibitions. Let’s try learning them individually.

Knowing Vitamin C And Tretinoin 

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin against “oxidative stress.” It stimulates collagen production and, thus, improves the overall texture of the skin (Niami, 2017). It also enhances the production of lipid barriers in cells. Normal and young skin has plenty of Vitamin C. You can include a Vitamin C serum in your skincare regime to enhance skin pigmentation and save yourself from the signs of photoaging.

vitamin c

What Not To Mix With Vitamin C?

Remember not to use AHAs and BHAs (glycolic acid, salicylic, lactic acid) with Vitamin C, as they all have a lower pH. Using them together will disturb the skin’s natural pH, leaving it imbalanced, which renders using actives useless. Take an expert’s advice to understand how to use different ingredients and products in a proper sequence before applying them to your skin. Learn more about layering skincare here.

Tretinoin (aka retinoic acid), a 20 times more potent option than retinol, is widely prescribed by doctors to treat acne and similar skin conditions. It helps in reducing wrinkles as well as other signs of aging. A recent study confirmed it is safe for use and helps minimize photoaging effects (Sitohang et al., 2022). It is the only FDA-approved topical treatment for acne and wrinkles. It is better to use it only when prescribed.


What Not To Mix With Tretinoin?

Any other skin product having a peeling agent, like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, etc., should not be used with tretinoin unless prescribed by your skin doctor. 

Layering Them Together | Can You Use Vitamin C With Tretinoin?

If you are new to a product, experts suggest giving it a week before you begin layering with a second product- especially if you have sensitive skin. If some product causes any adverse reaction, you will learn about it. 

Tretinoin is very strong. It may cause side effects like irritation, redness, and inflammation if used without a prescription. On the other hand, if you have sensitive skin or use it in higher concentrations than needed, side effects of Vitamin C (like redness and tingling sensation, to name a few) can be seen. 

retinol and vitamin c

Layering these two ingredients together is not a severe problem, provided you keep a gap of 30 minutes in between their application. And since Vitamin C is water-soluble, opt for using Vitamin C serum before the tretinoin product, which is oil-soluble. 

Vitamin C and tretinoin are acidic, with a pH range of 2.5-3.5 and 5-6, respectively. Some skin experts opine that tretinoin works better in a slightly alkaline condition which Vitamin C doesn’t provide. Hence, not to use them together. However, others think combining them shows effective skincare results, as Vitamin C lessens the irritation that tretinoin would have otherwise caused.

It is safe to say that both Vitamin C and tretinoin can be used together, given that a dermatologist prescribes it after gauging your skin type and triggers. If you still wish to use them without a prescription, conduct a patch test and check these details before you go full-fledged with any product.

How To Use Them Together?

The best way to include them in your regimen is to use them at separate times of the day. Use your Vitamin C serum before a hydrating moisturizer in the morning and the tretinoin cream before bedtime. 

Begin with mild concentrations (10% for Vitamin C serum and 0.025% for tretinoin cream). You may slowly increase the concentrations once you adapt to this baseline.  

FAQs | Can You Use Vitamin C With Tretinoin?

Here are the most common FAQs around this topic which I tried answering.

Can you use Vitamin C serum with tretinoin?

You can use Vitamin C serum with tretinoin, each in a certain percentage, as suggested by your doctor. Nevertheless, it is best to use them separately, one in the morning and another in the evening.  

retinol and vitamin c

Can you use Vitamin C and Hyaluronic Acid with Tretinoin?

The use of Hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C together is widespread. You may even use a hyaluronic acid moisturizer before using tretinoin. Unless your doctor suggests, it’s better to use vitamin C with hyaluronic acid in the morning routine, separated from tretinoin in the evening.

Can you use niacinamide with Vitamin C and Tretinoin?

Yes! You can use niacinamide in the same regimen as Vitamin C and Tretinoin. However, there are some complaints of inflammation in the skin when using niacinamide with Vitamin C. If you have sensitive skin, it is better to take the advice of a dermatologist in this regard.


So, can you use Vitamin C with tretinoin? We hope that this article answers this question well. Because of their excellent benefits on our skin, they are often considered the power duo. But, since we all have different skin types with distinct needs to cater to each one, it would be wise to talk to your skin doctor and seek the expert’s advice.

Do you still have any doubts or want to add some missing details? Connect with us by commenting below. 


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About Rosaline Smith

Rosaline Smith, a vibrant and passionate woman in her early thirties, is the creative force behind the widely adored beauty blog, Lavenderous. With her radiant personality, Rosaline has effortlessly built a loyal community of beauty enthusiasts who eagerly await her opinions on newly launched beauty products.

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