Can BHAs be mixed with vitamin C?


Whether you prefer exfoliation or avoid it, you’ll notice a noticeable change in your complexion. Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on physical exfoliants to remove unwanted debris from the surface of the skin. Chemical peels are nothing new, but their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years, with many of us using exfoliating toners in our skincare routines.




With all these acids, the question is whether some should be avoided and others can be used more effectively in combination. The two main ingredients we’ll be taking a closer look at are vitamin C and beta hydroxy acid, also known as BHA. So if you want to learn more about how these powerhouses work on the skin, what benefits they have, and whether you can mix BHA and vitamin C, stay tuned.


What are the benefits of BHA?


BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid, and is a family of chemical exfoliants that work deeper into the skin than their relatives, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). They’re oil-soluble, which means they’re very effective for addressing problematic and acne-prone skin.


They do this by removing excess sebum from the skin and clearing out bacteria, dirt and other impurities from the pores. These can often build up over time and develop into blemishes such as blackheads, congested skin and a dull complexion. Due to their high potency, you’d better avoid mixing these acids with other acids. This is because the risk of irritation is increased, causing itchy skin, blotchy skin, redness and sometimes a painful rash.


The most commonly used BHA in a range of skincare products is salicylic acid. This acid is derived from willow bark and has a smaller molecular size, which means it can penetrate into the lower layers of the skin, preventing further breakouts and reducing inflammation. The main benefits of salicylic acid are as follows:


Helps clear pore-clogging bacteria, dirt and debris that can accumulate and cause acne, blackheads and other skin imperfections.

Helps reduce and regulate the skin’s sebum production, which is particularly useful for oily and acne-prone skin.

Clears dead skin cells from the surface of the skin that can cause breakouts and give a dull, lackluster complexion.

Contains anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can fight redness or inflammation of the skin.

If you want to learn more about salicylic acid and other BHAs, read our dedicated blog post.

What are the benefits of Vitamin C?


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant and effective skincare ingredient that can help with a variety of issues.


Supports the lipid barrier, ensuring it is strong enough to protect the skin from free radicals such as pollution, UV rays, central heating and other oxidative stressors.

Helps to brighten the skin and minimise the appearance of hyperpigmentation. This is achieved by inhibiting the enzyme that produces melanin, which causes skin pigmentation.

Contains anti-inflammatory properties, i.e. H. Vitamin C can fight skin redness.

Increases collagen production, making the skin firmer, retaining elasticity and imparting youthful elasticity.

Do you want to know more about Vitamin C? Read our dedicated blog post on Beauty Insiders.

Now that we have briefly outlined the benefits of BHA and Vitamin C, let’s take a deeper look at them and understand how to use them together effectively.


Can BHA and Vitamin C be used together?

Yes, you can, but only in a way that prevents skin irritation. Here are some examples of the best ways to combine them.


Option 1 – Apply at different times of the day.


Since both acids have an acidic pH, using them together can cause an imbalance in your skin’s pH, which can lead to irritation. To avoid this, it’s best to leave plenty of time between applications. Many people find that the radiant glow and antioxidant protection of Vitamin C provide the best results when used during their morning routine. Then apply the BHA in the evening so that it can work on the skin without interference from the effects of free radicals.


Option Two – Use Them on Different Nights


If you find that the first option causes skin irritation, you can choose to use Vitamin C and BHA on different nights. This ensures that each ingredient can do its job without having to fight against daily skin aggressors. While Vitamin C is generally considered best used during the day, you’ll find that its antioxidant properties make it just as effective when used at night as it repairs existing damage and prevents further damage to the skin.


There are two popular options out there, however, there’s another option that’s best for those who have a tolerance for both ingredients. You can add Vitamin C to your BHA. You just have to make sure to wait about 20 minutes between each application to allow your skin to calm down and prepare for the next step in your routine.


Which comes first, Vitamin C or BHA?

If your skin tolerates both ingredients well in the same routine, it’s best to use the BHA product first. The reason for this is that it’s an oil-soluble product, which means it can penetrate deeper into the skin. It also removes built-up dead skin cells and dirt, stripping away any barrier to the skin, allowing the Vitamin C and other active ingredients to be absorbed quickly and show results faster.


If you have any questions about using any of these ingredients, you should consult a doctor or trained professional. I also recommend doing a 24-hour patch test, as this will help you determine if these active ingredients are right for you and your skin’s needs.

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