Ingredients glycolic acid and vitamin C, which can be combined in skincare

Can You Combine Vitamin C and Glycolic Acid?

Everything you need to know about adding this dynamic duo to prevent premature aging and brighten skin.


2 minute read

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 Sandra Lee, MD (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 into your routine.


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 (but potentially irritating) version, while derivatives like sodium ascorbyl phosphate and ascorbyl glucoside are more stable and gentler on skin (but less potent).

Vitamin C has many benefits for skin, including:

According to Dr. Lee, the best way to introduce vitamin C into your routine is to find an effective yet gentle formula. SLMD Vitamin C Serum is formulated for all skin types — with hydrating 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 AHA/BHA Swipes, which are soft woven rounds pre-loaded with a cocktail of skin brightening glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acids.

Dr. Pimple Popper's Vitamin C + Glycolic Acid Picks

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

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

    For best results, Dr. Lee suggests exfoliating your skin before using vitamin C. Try using glycolic acid at night (to minimize its photosensitizing tendencies), followed by vitamin C in the morning (to maximize its antioxidant potential).

    As always, when you decide to use both vitamin C and an AHA like glycolic acid in your routine, pay attention to how your skin reacts. If you experience irritation, dryness or peeling, try staggering your application. This will help those with sensitive skin avoid irritation — as will choosing a vitamin C derivative that's tailored to all skin types. 

    You can also use both ingredients in the morning, but again, try alternating if it's too much for your skin. And be sure to wear sunscreen every day, since sunlight reduces vitamin C's potency — and glycolic acid can make your skin more UV sensitive.

    Dr Sandra Lee

    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.


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