Can I Use a Benzoyl Peroxide Lotion then Use a Moisturizer with Vitamin C?

How would I fit in a regimen of Retin A gel, Vitamin C based moisturizer and Benzoyl Peroxide lotion?

Doctor Answers 2

Incorporating products into a skin care regimen

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All three - vitamin C moisturizer, Retin A gel and benzoyl peroxide - can be drying and irritating to the skin.  So incorporating all three into a skin care regimen may take a little time.  It also depends on the reason you are using all three.  I assume that if you are using benzoyl peroxide and Retin A gel, you are treating acne.  What I wonder is what role is the vitamin C moisturizer playing here.  If you are treating acne, you have to be careful about using moisturizers.  Are the other products drying your skin too much?  You also have to make sure that any moisturizer you use in the setting of acne is oil-free and non-comedogenic.  Also consider that if you are using vitamin C moisturizer as an anti-aging product, retinoids, such as Retin A gel and Tazorac are the most potent anti-aging topical products available.

The one constant in this regimen is that Retin A gel must be used at nighttime.  Retin A both makes your skin more sun sensitiive and gets degraded by ultraviolet light. 

I would recommend starting by using the benzoyl peroxide lotion in the morning and alternating the vitamin C moisturizer and Retin A gel at night.  Make sure you are not getting irritated by this regimen.  If you are, cut back to just alternating all three at night time and gradually moving one product to morning time. 

It's hard to incorporate three products into a skin care regimen without alternating at least two of them.  Layering one on top of another may be too irritating.  If you don't layer and want to use all three daily, you may end up using one in the morning, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.  That's quite a bit.  Consider using a benzoyl peroxide wash before your vitamin C moisturizer.  In addition, look if your vitamin C moisturizer has a sunscreen with it.  Then you can use the benzoyl peroxide wash in the morning prior to the moisturizer and the Retin A gel at nighttime.

Short Hills Dermatologic Surgeon

Not Together

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The Vitamin C cream would lose a good portion of its efficacy if they are combined. Vitamin C is a fussy molecule which demands a particular acidic pH to work. Benzoyl Peroxides tend to be at a higher pH, the change in the pH will eradicate much of the effectiveness of the Vitamin C cream. Furthermore, the main reason you are probably using Vitamin C is for its anti-oxidant effect.  Well, what is Benzoyl Peroxide? It is a strong OXIDIZING agent. The two would probably negate each others value. Lastly, as Dr. Altman points out, BP and Vitamin C can be irritating and there may even be a synergiscity  with this irritation. 

By the way, the reason Benzoyl Peroxides are so effective in treating acne is this very oxidization characteristic. BP essentially produces so much oxygen, that the bacteria is smoothered. 

  You also mention Retin A gel in this regmen. If you are treating acne, I might steer you over to Epiduo gel. This contains both the retinoid Differin and a Benzoyl Peroxide. It was always axiomatic that we could not combine the two for some of the same reasons I gave above regarding the combination of Vitamin C and Benzoyl Peroxide. At any rate, the scientists at Galderma were able to successfully circumvent this problem in making Epiduo gel.

Arnold R. Oppenheim, MD
Virginia Beach Dermatologist

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