These Skin-Care Ingredients Work Better Together

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Just like people, sometimes skin-care ingredients work better in pairs. The synergy between two or three ingredients that work well together can lead to results you may not be able to achieve when relying on just one of the ingredients. Dermatologists and cosmetic chemists have weighed in on which skin-care ingredients they believe belong together.

Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides

New York dermatologist Orit Markowitz, MD likes these two ingredients as a pair. “I think humectants combined with sealant moisturizers work the best like hyaluronic acid and ceramides.” This duo’s superpower is the ability to “draw out moisture and then seal it.”

Glycolic Acid + Retinoids

Cosmetic chemist Michelle Wong, PhD says there’s evidence that these two ingredients can work better together than apart. However, she noted that if you have easily irritated skin, this pairing may not be the one for you.

Vitamin C + Vitamin E + Ferulic Acid

Washington, D.C. dermatologist Tina Alster, MD noted that, when combined, vitamin C and vitamin E have an antioxidant effect that helps strengthen and brighten skin. Wong likes to add ferulic acid to the mix. She explained that since the vitamin C is “quite unstable,” the other two antioxidants are useful in helping to keep it active.

Retinoids + Benzoyl Peroxide

For acne, Wong suggests using these two ingredients together. As long as the retinoids stay stable, this duo is handy for helping combat a breakout. Cosmetic chemist Victoria Fu agreed that this pair is a formidable opponent for acne. Specifically, “0.1% Adapalene + as little as 2.5% BPO has been getting a lot of spotlight with some nice data on how they work synergistically together,” said Fu. “I’m all for gentler retinoid cocktails.”

Glycerin + Hyaluronic Acid

Fu’s partner in Chemist Confessions and fellow cosmetic chemist Gloria Lu thinks these two ingredients make a handsome pair. “This is not as sexy as fancy active ingredients…but I’m a huge fan of glycerin and hyaluronic acid,” said Lu. “Glycerin is really an unsung hero in the water-grabbing humectant world. Unlike hyaluronic acid, it’s a very small molecule that has a lot of cool data behind long-term hydration. It really complements a big polymer such as hyaluronic acid for all-day hydration for my dry skin.”

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