How to Use Vitamin C Serum and Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol Together in Your Routine

Share this:

You’ll find that most of the products on your routine have a combination of vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and retinol in either a serum, moisturizer, or face mask. If you’re looking to build a routine with these ingredients, you can never go wrong if you use them correctly.

The trio makes a great pair that improves the health and appearance of your skin. They make each other more effective, thereby making your entire routine productive.

Each ingredient has its peculiarities, therefore, there is a way to go about using them in your routine.

Correct application of products guarantees the best results. I have put this article together to help you use vitamin C serum and hyaluronic acid and retinol the right way in your skincare routine.

1. Start With a Cleanser

Begin your morning routine by cleansing your face. Regardless of your routine, you must cleanse your skin. This helps to remove the excess sebum your skin must have secreted over the night.

It also helps to remove dead skin cells that can hinder the full absorption of products. For your nighttime routine, you’ll need to double cleanse to remove oil, dirt, and makeup residues from the day.

Most importantly, use a cleanser that works for your skin type. Avoid cleansers that contain alcohol, fragrance, and exfoliating acids (if possible).

Micellar water is a good option for a gentle cleanser that works for every skin type. You can use a toner after using a cleanser (if you include one in your routine).

2. Apply Serum: Vitamin C (Morning) & Retinol (Evening)

After cleansing, the serum comes next. In your vitamin C and retinol routine, there are many ways to use both serums.

You can layer them with vitamin C serum first and at thirty minutes intervals before you apply retinol. However, this method can make your routine time-consuming.

Another way to use both serums is to use them at alternate times of the day. Use vitamin C serum during your morning routine to protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation and retinol for your evening routine.

For each of the serums, you only need a few drops for your face and neck. Gently pat the serum all over your skin and allow it to absorb into your skin for about a minute before you move on to the next step.

3. Hydrate With Hyaluronic Acid

The next step of your routine is to replenish moisture with hyaluronic acid serum. This serum keeps your skin hydrated and enhances the effects of vitamin C and retinol, which are very potent ingredients.

Moreover, vitamin C and retinol cause the skin to dry out. Using hyaluronic acid after these serums helps to counter this side effect.

Take about 2-3 drops of hyaluronic acid serum in your palm. Use your fingertips to apply the serum all over your face and neck with gentle taps. Again, allow the serum to absorb into your skin for up to a minute.

4. Seal in Moisture With Moisturizer

Always moisturize. If you use vitamin C serum, moisturize. If you use retinol, you need to moisturize afterward. These ingredients can be drying on the skin. You need to use a moisturizer to enhance the hydrating benefits of hyaluronic acid.

Also, it helps to create a protective seal over your skin and prevent moisture loss. You should carefully pick a moisturizer that suits your skin type.  A pea-sized amount of cream is enough to cover your face and neck.

After using moisturizer, you can follow up with other creams and face oils in your routine.

5. Use Sunscreen

Sunscreens come at the last step of skincare. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30 to shield off harmful UV rays that can cause the formation of free radicals and make your products ineffective.

Although vitamin C serum protects against sunlight, you still need sunscreen. With retinol at-night serum, sunscreen may not be necessary but you should apply it in the morning before stepping out.

Can You Use Vitamin C Serum, Hyaluronic Acid, and Retinol Together?

You can use vitamin C serum, hyaluronic acid, and retinol together at the same time. However, it is not advisable to do so because vitamin C and retinol are active at different pH values.

Layering them can denature one at the expense of another. More so, it could be time-consuming.

The best way to use the trio is to alternate vitamin C and retinol. You can use them at alternate times of the day; vitamin C for AM application and retinol for your PM routine.

You can also use them on alternate nights. This way, your skin gets both ingredients and enjoys the benefits of each.

Can You Use Vitamin C Serum and Retinol Together?

Yes, you can. You can have both vitamin C serum and retinol in your routine. Both ingredients are effective for reversing the signs of aging and improving skin glow.

When using the two ingredients, if you’ll like to layer them, vitamin C serum should come first because it has a lower pH value.

After applying vitamin C, allow it to absorb into your skin for up to 30 minutes. During this time, your skin’s pH becomes balanced, before you apply retinol which has a higher pH.

This method may not be as effective as when you use vitamin C serum and retinol at different times of the day or on different nights.

Should You Use Retinol or Hyaluronic Acid First?

Retinol comes before hyaluronic acid. To start with, retinol should be applied to dry skin to reduce the risks of skin irritations. On the other hand, hyaluronic acid works better on damp skin.

Moreover, retinol can be quite drying and it may also manifest side effects like dryness and flaking. Hyaluronic acid helps to soothe the side effects, and replenish and prevent moisture loss.

Based on the tolerance of your skin, you can also pre-treat your skin with hyaluronic acid before applying retinol. Notwithstanding, you should use hyaluronic acid after applying retinol.

What Other Ingredients Should You Not Layer With Vitamin C?

Vitamin C does not fare well with every ingredient. Asides from retinol, do not layer vitamin C with benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and niacinamide.

It is naturally unstable and sometimes its pH value makes it susceptible to being denatured by other ingredients.

Under any of the above circumstances, your skin may break out with acne, skin redness, itching, and other forms of irritations. If you must have these ingredients in your routine, you should use them at alternate times of the day or on different days.

Most importantly, start with small concentrations and build up gradually until your skin can tolerate these ingredients.


Is retinol better than vitamin C serum?

Retinol is not better than vitamin C serum. Both ingredients are heroes in reversing signs of aging and increasing collagen production. On some days, what your skin needs is retinol and on other days, vitamin C seems to be the only balm for your skin.

In essence, listen to your skin and use ingredients and products that your skin needs at the time.

Can you use vitamin C serum at night?

Yes, you can. The benefit of using vitamin C serum is at its peak in the morning but it is also okay to use it at night. Appling vitamin C serum at night is not against any skincare rule. The most important thing is to moisturize afterward.

Is hyaluronic acid better in the morning or at night?

You can use hyaluronic acid at any time of the day. It is advised that you use it at least twice a day to keep your skin hydrated. Always apply hyaluronic acid to pre-cleansed skin and follow up with a moisturizer to seal in moisture.


Skincare experts advise that you dare to layer ingredients in your skincare routine. Each ingredient is effective on its own. But together- when matched correctly- they work magic on your skin.

Vitamin C serum, retinol, and hyaluronic acid are some of the most common active ingredients in skincare.

These active ingredients make a good addition to any skincare routine. Before you fully incorporate any of them into your routine, you should run a patch test to test for suitability.

Most importantly, your patience is needed to get results. Do not be in a haste to ditch and switch products. When you think your money has gone the drain could be the turning point of your skin.

Thanks for reading.

The best guides on how to use your skincare products correctly are on Serum101.