The world of skincare is a crowded one, and it can be difficult to know what ingredients will give you the best results.
If you really want your skincare routine to work hard, it’s all about choosing the right combinations. "Combining ingredients means you can simultaneously treat and protect at the same time. This in turn can increase the effectiveness, which will then deliver greater and faster results," explains aesthetic oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Sabrina Shah-Desai.
"Combining ingredients increases the effectiveness of the ingredient – certain ingredients work very well together, which gives enhanced results."
Whether you layer individual ingredients or choose an all-in-one is up to you. However, Shah-Desai urges you to make sure "the formulations are compatible and do not negate each other or irritate or aggravate skin".
Plus, pre-formulated products have a few extra benefits. "Some people prefer products that have combined ingredients as they are easier to incorporate in a regime, do not negate each other and are sustainably packaged," she adds. "Remember that using too many products can actually damage the moisture barrier and or cause other skin conditions (such as inflammation, redness and blemishes)."
If you’re looking to boost the effectiveness of your skincare routine, these ingredient combinations are a match made in heaven…
Niacinamide and salicylic acid
"Both of these ingredients have anti-ageing and anti-acne effects," says Shah-Desai.
GP and aesthetician Dr. Ahmed El Muntasar also loves this combination. "The salicylic acid, which is a chemical exfoliant, helps to get rid of any spots (whiteheads, blackheads) and gets rid of the top epidermis," he says. "Then the niacinamide comes in and hydrates and nourishes the skin underneath, so it doesn’t get irritated."
Vitamin C and vitamin E
If you’ve got products with vitamins C and E but you’re not layering them up, you could be missing a trick.
"When combined together, vitamin C and E enhance the effects of each other and give fantastic results," explains Shah-Desai.
"When applied topically, vitamin C is a powerful skin booster. It improves the appearance of your skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles, repairs damage done by UV rays, stabilises collagen and gives dull skin a luminous glow. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, and combats free radical damage by preventing oxidative damage to cells."
Retinol and hyaluronic acid or peptides
Retinol is a powerful ingredient beloved by beauty buffs for reducing the appearance of fine lines, but it also comes with its issues – namely, the dreaded ‘retinol uglies’, when your skin reacts negatively to the product. Potential side effects of retinol include "redness, irritation and dry skin", says Shah-Desai.
That’s why she likes layering hers with hyaluronic acid, saying it "helps to lessen the potential side effects of retinol… Hyaluronic acid is renowned for its ability to hydrate the skin, it helps the skin hold onto water, which hydrates the outer layers of the skin."
To combat the potential side effects of retinol, Muntsara recommends applying a peptide on top. "Retinoids help shed off the top dead layer of the skin, and then what the peptide will do is repair the skin underneath, helping to maintain a nice, healthy skin barrier," he says.
SPF and vitamin C
Applying vitamin C before SPF in the morning is a genius idea, according to Shah-Desai, as it "will help protect the skin from UV damage and free radical damage.
"Vitamin C helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, slows down skin ageing and reduces the appearance of brown spots." The order is important here – make sure you apply vitamin C first, "to get the best benefits of these products combined", she says.
Muntasar is also a fan of this combination, saying: "Vitamin C gives you that daytime brightness and antioxidants for a nice glow, then the SPF on top of it protects your skin. There is some research that potentially shows that a good quality vitamin C oil might make your SPF work even better."
Niacinamide and vitamin C
Shah-Desai also recommends combining niacinamide and vitamin C.
She describes both as "powerful" antioxidants, saying vitamin C can have "a whitening effect on pigmentation and dark spots", while niacinamide "enhances the prevention of pigmentation, [and] improves the whitening effect on brown spots".