Can I Use Retin-A With Vitamin C?

Photo Credits: Thinkstock

It’s our goal to make sure that we have all of your beauty questions answered. And knowing that we all often turn to powerful products to keep aging and adult acne at bay, we want to make sure that it’s done in a safe way. So when one of our readers asked if it was OK to use vitamin C with Retin-A, we went straight to an expert to find out.

“Yes, it is safe to use Retin-A and vitamin C products at the same time,” says Prospect, KY, dermatologist Tami Cassis, MD.  

Dr. Cassis says there are no real contradictions with vitamin C and Retin-A and any other product. But sometimes using Retin-A with other over-the-counter anti-aging products, like those that contain retinol, can be a little too much to tolerate. So depending on your skin type, be careful when mixing and matching products.

“You can use both products at the same time following the regimen of Retin-A in the morning and vitamin C in the evening,” says West Palm Beach, FL, dermatologist, Kenneth R. Beer, MD

Also, using both products together can cause increased dryness, especially if you already have dry or sensitive skin to begin with. “If irritation or scaling were to occur, limit the Retin-A to every other day,” says Dr. Beer.

Find Acne Treatments Doctors near you:
Read More
27 Comments
  • amy a.
    Posted on

    I use Serious Skin Care's vitamin C and vitamin A retinol line. Both are excellent- especially the serums and eye creams.

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    should be used at night when you sleep ,,

  • Julie
    Posted on

    I was told to never use Retin A in the morning because of the sensitivity to sun. Strange that a dermatologist would say that.

  • JLKKAR
    Posted on

    Could someone PLEASE let me know the name of a Good Vitamin C Serum and a Starter product with Retinol!! ASAP......Really want to start.

  • Marie Storevik
    Posted on

    Retinol at night, Vitamin C during the Day. Anti-age and prevent by day, Anti-age and repair by night:) Your body is at rest at night with no interference from extrinsic factors. Beginning retinol users apply retinol 2 maybe 3 times a week to start until skin acclimates. ALWAYS WEAR SPF DURING THE DAY! ( SPF 50!)

  • Rinna
    Posted on

    Can you please recommend the most stable and the least skin irritating vitamin C serum? Is there a benefit to use Retin A and vitamin C serum together to increase skin cologne production?

  • userofskincareproducts
    Posted on

    It's good to use Retin-A at night, because you don't want to go out in the sun with it on your skin even with sunscreen. It makes skin too sensitive and will burn and damage more easily, and the sunlight deactivates it. Vitamin C can be used during the day or night, and since it's best to use Retin-A at night, might as well use Vitamin C during the day. Vitamin C and Retin-A on the skin at the same time is too exfoliating. You're not supposed to use both at the same time. They both exfoliate. @Melba, every doctor and dermatologist who has prescribed me Retin-A has prescribed Retin-A in the evening only, never morning. The Retin-A can be used alone or with a moisturizer. *If you are someone who is up all night and sleeps during the day, yes sure use your Retin-A during the day.

  • Krista
    Posted on

    Vit C in the morning, Retin A at night

  • Posted on

    Most Patients i have on Retin-a in the Evening and Vitamin-C in the am - There's not added benefit to using Vitamin-C in the evening - ONLY when treating stubborn melanoma/ Hyperpigmentation do I have patients on Retin-a 2x a day for lets say a week - EVEN when applied at night retina-a will cause skin sensitivity so SPF is a MUST -

  • Steve Brown, MD
    Posted on

    I give my patient Retinol 2.5% instead of Retin-A which is less drying to the skin and I use an organic formula from I'm Fabulous Cosmetics. The patients can use this 2 products the same day and we see dramatic improvement on the patients skin.

  • Kristen
    Posted on

    I am neither a doctor or an esthetician, however I use retin-a with a sunscreen in the morning and one without in the evening. I use a vit c wash and serum before applying both. The changes in my skin have been extremely noticeable and all positive. Personally, I don't see why you can't just combine the two.

  • Anonymous
    Posted on

    I am an esthetician and we were taught that Retin A which is a derivative of vitamin A should not be used during the day because it deactivates in the sun. As well as the skin is more exposed due to new skin cells being produced. I would personally use vitamin c in the morning because it will help boost the effectiveness in your sun protection and it wont deactivate in the sun. Vitamin A is great at night because we have a natural skin renewal at around 8-9 at night. This is when your products are easily penetrated more and your makeup should be removed before this time.

  • Dionne
    Posted on

    I use my Retin A in the morning as well. I prefer to do that so that my antioxidant actually has a chance to be an antioxidant and not just additional spf absorbing uva/uvb rays under by spf in the day time. I use a daily spf with antioxidants in it on top of my retin a and then use a serum with vitamin c and other goodies at night under a moisturizer.

  • laila
    Posted on

    c-vit in the morning and retin a in the evening.

  • Rebecca
    Posted on

    To Melba, follow your best instincts, AND go with the prevailing intellegence, which is: Retin A at Night and Vit. C in the Morning!! What more do you need to know??

  • nyc967
    Posted on

    I used to use Retin A, but the side effects were so bad - my dermatologist recommended the Lady Soma Serum and Lady Soma Somatique Face Wash. It has Retinol Vitamin A in it, WITHOUT the side effects of Retin A. For those of you actually using Retin A, here is my routine... Wash with Lady Soma Somatique Face Wash - then apply the Lady Soma Renewal Serum. In the morning I wash again with this Lady Soma Wash. The Lady Soma stuff also seems to be helping with the intial breakout I got from the Retin A (have not had acne in years! was put on the Retin A for sun damage & fine lines).

  • Yewgenesh
    Posted on

    I am an Esthetician with 15 years experience for a Dermatologist and I recommend Retin A in the evening and Vit C right after. The Retin A acts as a vehicle and helps the Vit C penetrate deeper. Plus our skin goes into repair mode when rest and protective mode during the day.

  • Susan F
    Posted on

    Which is better for wrinkles - Retin A or Tretoinin?

  • Common Sense
    Posted on

    Doctos are people. And people have egos. Follow some common sense and listen to your gut. Do the right thing. If you've talked to 12 derms and they all say do A and then 1 derm says B, what do you think would be the logical answer? Do A.

  • Dr. Vivian Bucay
    Posted on

    It is perfectly safe to use both Retin A (tretinoin) or any other vitamin A acid formulation in conjuction with vitamin C. The trick is in the timing of the applications, and most of us agree that vitamin C, an effective antioxidant, is best when applied in the morning, Antioxidants quench or neutralize free radicals- those pesky unstable molecules that trigger the breakdown of collagen and elastin, reuskting in aging of the skin, Because ultraviolet radiation - UVA and UVB rays- are responsible for about 90% of the free radicals produced in our body, it makes sense to use vitamin C and other antioxidants during the day, when we are exposed to UVA and UVB rays. Applying vitamin C and Retin A/vitamin A acid creams together can irritate the skin, so these are best applied at separate times to minize the potential for skin irritation. In summary, using vitamin C during the day will protect the skin from free radicals and Retin applied at night will encourage skin renewal and repair. As a rule, vitamin A derived products are unstable when exposed to UV rays (although adequate sunscreen use should help reduce this). As general guideline to skin care, think prevent and protect for day products and repair and renew for night products.

  • Gabriella
    Posted on

    I was told that Vitamin C and Retin A cancel out each other! What is the truth? I don't believe a real Derm would have someone use Retin-A in the daytime, ridiculous!

  • Lainie
    Posted on

    As an Aesthetician for 12+ years and a rep for Environ Skincare that uses high doses of Vit A. It depends on what type of Vit A ur using. Environ uses the Ester form Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl acetate. Using this form gives u an SPF protection while strengthen the skin and DNA of our cells. We encourage our clients to apply our AVST or C-Quence moisturizers both AM/PM. These unique moisturizers also offer Vit C E peptides, Antioxidants and growth Factors. Environ is a cult fav of Celebs, Athletes & Physicians & Skin therapist worldwide.

  • Debra
    Posted on

    I am an Esthetician at a facial plastic surgeons office and we tell clients to use your C in the daytime and your Retin A. in the evening.

  • gulnur
    Posted on

    I have always believed and recommended my clients to use Vit C in the morning (followed by a physical sunscreen of course) and the Retinol (no matter what the percentage is) in the evening, when there is no sun present..so I'm a bit puzzled with the Doc's opposite comments on that..

  • Posted on

    The sun will cause the Retin A to degrade a little bit but in my experience, the only time that Retin A is irritating is when it is applied to skin that is wet or when it is too strong for the skin type. I like to have it applied in the morning.

  • Katie
    Posted on

    Perhaps Dr. Beer is referring to the branded Retin-A Micro. The generic of Retin-A, which is tretinoin, is unstable in sunlight and will become inactivated with exposure to ultraviolet light. However, the branded Retin-A Micro, which is a delayed release product, is stable in sunlight. Perhaps this could explain the contradicting information.

  • Melba
    Posted on

    Interesting that Dr. Beer says to use the Retin A in the morning and Vit C in the evening. Every single derm I've ever talked to about the use of Retin A (and it's been over a dozen) said to use the Retin A in the evening and NEVER in the morning, because of possible sun exposure. So what do we do?

From around the web

THANK YOU FOR SUBSCRIBING TO THE

NEWSLETTERS