Can You Combine Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid?

We won’t keep you in suspense: YES, you can use vitamin C and glycolic acid together in your skincare routine. In fact, these two dermatological ingredients can work beautifully in tandem — as long as you know what you’re doing. Fortunately, we’ve got Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) to explain the ins and outs of combining these potent superstars.

Here, the board-certified dermatologist explains the benefits of both vitamin C and glycolic acid, and how best to incorporate them at home.

Ingredients glycolic acid in Resurfacing Acne Swipes and vitamin C serum Bright Future by SLMD Skincare

What does vitamin C do for skin?

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that comes in several forms. L-ascorbic acid, which is the most well-researched, is the most potent version, while a derivative like sodium ascorbyl phosphate is more stable, and gentler on skin (but less potent).

Vitamin C has many benefits for skin, including:
  • Neutralizing free radicals that cause skin damage
  • Stimulating collagen production
  • Inhibiting melanin production

According to Dr. Lee, the best way to introduce vitamin C into your routine is to find an effective yet gentle formula. SLMD Skincare Bright Future is a stabilized ascorbic acid serum that’s formulated for all skin types — with nourishing niacinamide, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid that plumps, brightens and minimizes fine lines and dark spots over time.

Why is glycolic acid good for skin?

Glycolic acid is the smallest of the alpha hydroxy acids, so it’s able to penetrate the deepest, providing several benefits:

  • Exfoliating dead cells from the skin’s surface
  • Unclogging pores
  • Evening skin tone
  • Stimulating the production of hyaluronic acid
  • Boosting skin’s collagen production

Because it’s adept at both exfoliating and hydrating, glycolic acid is ideal for dry, dehydrated, and combination skin. Find it in SLMD Skincare Resurfacing Acne Swipes, which are soft woven rounds pre-loaded with a cocktail of skin brightening glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids.

Can you use vitamin C and glycolic acid together?

These two potent ingredients can definitely coexist in the same skincare regimen — and using them both can boost their common benefits:

  • Brightening skin
  • Evening out skin tone
  • Stimulating collagen
Combining glycolic acid Resurfacing Acne Swipes and vitamin C serum Bright Future by SLMD Skincare

    What’s the best way to combine vitamin C and AHAs?

    Anytime you’re combining powerful dermatological ingredients, it’s a good idea to stagger their application. This will also help those with sensitive skin avoid irritation. A good rule of thumb, says Dr. Lee, is to apply vitamin C in the morning (to maximize its antioxidant potential), and AHAs like glycolic acid at night (to minimize its photosensitizing tendencies).

    Dr. Lee’s last word

    Glycolic acid and vitamin C are two of the most talked-about skincare ingredients today. These two have been clinically proven to brighten skin and promote a more even skin tone over time — while also boosting your collagen production. This is especially helpful if you’re trying to prevent the visible signs of aging, like dullness, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.

    —Dr. Sandra Lee


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