The Best Ingredients That Work Better Together

Every beauty ingredient works well on its own. But, in some cases, pairing one ingredient with another only leads to better results. San Francisco dermatologist Vic Narurkar, MD, says the reason why ingredients are often paired together is because there is synergy between various topical agents for a variety of conditions. “A so-called multimodal effect,” he says. “Conditions like melasma, acne, hyperpigmentation and photoaging are caused by multifactorial components. Therefore, a single agent is often ineffective.”

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Here are a few ingredient pairings that work well in tandem.

Retinol + Hyaluronic Acid

New York dermatologist Julie Russak, MD, favors this combo for the sheer fact that when paired together, the hyaluronic acid calms the skin. “Retinol can be irritating to skin and hyaluronic acid is both hydrating and anti-inflammatory,” she says. You still get the retinol benefits of increased cell turnover, smaller pores, less discoloration and fewer lines and wrinkles with less redness, itchiness and flakiness and better-looking skin.

Salicylic Acid + Niacinamide

Great for acne breakouts, salicylic acid shrinks them up, and fast. But, just like retinol, it can be drying to skin. Together, the duo keeps skin in tact and less apt to become sensitive. Plus, Dr. Narurkar says that the salicylic acid addresses acne comodones and the niacinamide helps with inflammation.

Salicylic Acid + Hyaluronic Acid

Dr. Russak says that using these two ingredients in tandem helps to cancel out the drying effects that salicylic acid can have on skin. “Hyaluronic acid is hydrating and keeps a good moisture balance without clogging pores,” she says. Definitely a plus for those who are acne-prone!

Growth Factors + Peptides + Retinol

Dr. Narurkar says the best anti-aging combination includes growth factors and peptides plus retinol. “One of my favorite products with this combination is SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum, which addresses multiple aspects of photoaging with multiple active agents.”