Ingredients NOT to mix in your routine!

Amidst selecting my skincare for the warmer weather, I stumbled upon my box of 'eh-these-are-useless-on-my-face' products, and one of them was

This! It was quite popz within the #dayrebeauty scene for a while and of cuz I gotta try it. 

This barely worked on me the first time and I was wondering if it's cause I didn't use it correctly! I wanted to give it a 2nd chance but also wanted to do some research on it first since my view on skincare is quite diff now.

I don't recall much of how this worked on me but all I know is I didn't like it much.

I decided to try it at the back of my hand to see it's texture and all cause I was wondering if I should re-try this acid. Then as it dried and I rubbed at it, it started to ball up. Like a top film is being removed in a yucky way. It gets worse as the product dries down.

And it got me wondering - what ingredient should NOT be mix with what ingredient leh??? Cause stuff cancel each other out all the time. I'm sure this applies to skincare too. 

For this product - I found out that reasons for balling includes pH OR incompatible bases in 2 products or in the ingredients of that 1 product. 

I quickly googled the Nip+Fab product and found that the 2nd ingredient is Niacinamide and that has a pH up to 7. Niacinamide and AHA CAN work together (despite old studies) but the pH range for the both to work well together is extremely small which means high chance this product isn't in the right pH. Chey don't wonder it didn't work for me. 

If it worked for you, highly likely also due to the fact that Niacinamide is an excellent ingredient by itself! It promotes natural exfoliation amongst its many benefits. My skin HATES Niacinamide - like totally hates it but it does adore glycolic acid. 

However, because of the formulation, this product was a fail for me. Also, the inclusion of polyquaternium-37 (film forming polymer) is probably what caused the balling when it dries and u rub at it. 

Okay, but I'm not really here to analyze all the products that failed on me. I was gonna bring up ingredients to NOT mix together when you're on this multi-step skincare routine. 

I figured this is a good way for me to keep track and since I'm alr researching it, I might as well do a post on it. I'm also concentrating mainly on acids cause they are the ones that work the hardest and are also the most fussy out of all skincare, imo. 

I personally don't use retinol but I'll still include it in cause I know some of u do! If u do, then u can compare the ingredients and make sure u ain't using any clashing clashing ones AT THE SAME TIME. 

U don't have to get rid of clashing products - just readjust them so u can use them at different times (AM/PM). This will allow them to perform optimally each time u use it! 

This post is pretty centered around actives cause they are the main workhorse of all the products. For them to work effectively, esp. those that are pH dependent and/or might cause sensitivity, it's better to take note of the ingredients that are not really compatible with others. 

I own an ARRAY of acids but I never use more than 2 extreme ones on one area since the waiting time is crazy and how much exfoliation do u need!!! 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (esp. the purest form of LAA) requires pH 3.5 or less to work at its optimal. Out of all the acids, this actually is the lowest and should be the first to enter if u r using an array of acids like me. 

I personally don't mix Vit. C with other acids because of the sensitive pH range it requires to be in. It takes about 20-30 mins for the pH of Vit C to normalize on the skin so that window is the period of time your skin is getting all the benefits

Other acids - BHA, AHA, PHA operates at different effective pH but they are all higher than Vitamin C.

Same goes for Vit C and Retinol. Both are powerful ingredients but Retinol works best at ~pH 6. See how this becomes a problem? 

If your product claims to contain both Vit C AND another active (AHA, BHA, Retinol etc.) and it DOESNT work at all, maybe this is why! It's quite impossible to find a pH range for them to work all together. 

Alas, like I mentioned, all hope is not lost. Simply switch up the products (if they are different ones lah) and use them either AM or PM! 

For me, I use Vitamin C in the morning to give me extra UV defense and AHA at night. This helps to keep my routine within an appropriate time and not have like, an hour of waiting time.


Countless articles mentioned not to use nacinamide with hydroxy acids due to formation of niacin. 

Now, niacin is just as effective of niacinamide but when applied topically, a minuscule amount might cause a noticeable flushing. Niacin flushing is generally even and tingly, lasting about 20 mins. If you're alright with slight redness, then I guess it's fine. It's just inconvenient and not harmful.

I'm not talking about bloggers' articles and posts btw. I actually really did some journal readings HAHAHHA 

Personally, my skin hates niacinamide. I'm not talking about mistaking a niacin flush for an allergic reaction. I'm talking about little bumps and breakouts if I use a product with niacinamide e.g Holysnails Shark Sauce and Cerave PM moisturizer

I breakout every time I use them. No fail. This is how I actually realized niacinamide is truly hated by my skin 🙄

There's a chunk of articles (OLD 1970s articles) that claim Vit C (LAA) and Niacinamide DON'T work together. The idea is that niacinamide turns Vit C yellow and cause all the good stuff to be deactivated. Not true, guys. I'm not going into too much details but the yellow is not the same as oxidized Vit C. It's just due to the formation of a charge-transfer complex. 

I've read three updated journal articles and the chemical rxns that occur are SUPER slow or reversible.

Still, if both ur niacinamide and Vit C (LAA) are in 2 different products, then just separate the order and use one in AM/PM lah. If it's all in one product and you're worried, then rest assured it doesn't really have bad horrible side effects (unless ur skin hates niacinamide and breaks out from it) 

Salicylic Acid - BHA

I live for BHA and it's my one constant in life, aside from my husband HAHAHAHAHA I state above that I use BHA day and night BUT it's only only on my tzone (sometimes even skipping forehead). I don't have much breakout issues these days and my concern is mainly keeping BHA at bay - nose and chin. 

I don't layer my acids (e.g. strong ones like BHA and glycolic acid) and I try my best to keep to one acid an area - makes sense? Hahaha 

When it comes to layering, u definitely can do BHA and then AHA after a 30 minute wait time. That's provided that your skin is tolerant of most acids. Alternatively, u can pick gentler forms of both like Betaine Salicylate and Mandelic Acid. Both are gentler forms of BHA and AHA respectively. 

However, BHA does okay well with soy, licorice and anti-inflammatory ingredients as of such, which is why a lot of BHA products do contain licorice roots.

Glycolic, Lactic, Mandelic, Tantaric, Malic Acid (omg this doesn't end) AHA

So I've started re-incorporating AHA back into my routine and I've been lovvvvvvvving it. But I only use this at night (as mentioned above, I use Vit C in the day) as it CAUSES PHOTOSENSITIVITY. 

Okay I know I keep repeating this so this is a very important point k!!! It increases your skin photosensitivity which means the sun will double-damage make ur skin cry if u don't use sunscreen in the AM. For anti-aging sake, just pls wear sunscreen daily lmao. 

Antioxidants like green tea will play very well with AHAs. They have the ability to brighten and provide your skin with an extra oomph after the acid has done its job to exfoliate. Plus these antioxidants are soothing so u don't get extra irritation.


Retinol is a powerful ingredient and is a form of Vit A. It has the ability to reduce lines and even treat oil production. I personally don't use this but it keeps popping up amidst my research.

I understand that there are prescriptive retinoids and OTC ones. If u r using a prescriptive retinoid, pls go to your derm/doc to get advice on how to place the order of ur products. I'm not a medical professional! My research can only go so far hahaha

I don't see the need to switch up to include retinoids in my routine as all my products are performing as they should. Don't fix what's not broken is the general rule I follow lah haha

Retinol tends to play well with hyalauronic acid or glycerin - both having moisturizing abilities to reduce irritation caused my retinol. However, if u r allergic to HA, then don't go be doing that k. 

It has been verified from several doctors that retinoids should not be mixed with AHA/BHA/other acne medications in general, as they will inactivate the retinoids. However, I must say the info is a little varying regarding if it's AHA OR BHA OR Benzoyl Peroxide that causes the inactivation so to be on the safe side, just don't mix lah haha

Retinoids should also be used at night as the sun breaks it down and this reduces the benefits. 

Again, if the ingredients are in separate products, then switch it up for AM and PM use. Also, personally, I think using two super strong ingredients like retinol AND AHA is just abit too much for your skin lah. It's always better to go slow and include products slowly so u can judge how ur skin likes it or if it's too much. So go slow!! Especially when it comes to incorporating actives. 

I know these are not everything but it's mainly more popular ingredients that I was checking up on. If smth didn't work for u the last time, now u can take a quick glance at the ingredient and check! Compare it to ur current products and see if it's possible that the ingredients weren't compatible, or it it's just meant to be separated into day and night use.