Is Mixing Skincare Harmful?

By Pia Bhattacharya, SELF magazine

When we're prescribed medication, we're usually careful about what else we take with it. But while so many of us stock up on acne-fighting cleansers and other skincare, we often do so without checking to see if their ingredients are compatible with one another. Dermatologist, Dr. Neal B. Schultz gives us the scoop on mixing skincare.

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Dr. Schultz says it can affect your skin in two different ways, by causing irritation and failing to work.

Irritation: Certain ingredients can cause a slight amount of irritation but usually don't when used properly. Using two different ingredients that have the ability to do this at the same time or layered over one another can cause trouble in the form of excessive redness, drying, etc.

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Failure to work: Glycolic acid, salicylic acid and retinoids are common exfoliants in products that should not be used at medium to high concentration at the same time or even in the same day as they can destroy, inactivate each other and often cause irritation. For example, retinoids are made of very fragile molecules that are destroyed by any types of acids. It may not irritate your skin, but the product will be rendered useless.

The way you layer products can also make them less effective. Make sure you layer a lighter product under a heavier product and make sure that your sunscreen is always put on first. Your SPF must make contact with your skin for it to work as effectively, something many people don't know.
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How many? When it comes to how many acne products you use, Dr. Schultz says to use your judgment. If you're getting irritation, something's wrong and you shouldn't need more than two or at the most three acne-fighting products in the form of cleansers, moisturizers, serums etc.

Treat your skin like you would the rest of your body and be smart with your skincare!

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Photo Credit: Condé Nast Digital Studio