The ABC’s of Skincare

The ABC’s of Skincare

What are the ABC’s of skincare? 

The ABC’s of skincare are the three most essential skincare ingredients, after sunscreen, cleansing and moisturising. They’re a great place to start if you’re looking at adding some extra punch to your skincare routine. 

A = vitamin A, or retinoids. Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, and are the most important ingredient for anti-ageing. They’ve been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, acne and pigmentation, amongst other benefits. Retinoids can be irritating, and aren’t safe to use in pregnancy.

B = vitamin B3, or niacinamide. It’s a powerful antioxidant, and has lots of benefits. It improves pigmentation, maintains skin barrier function, improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and is anti-inflammatory and helpful for acne and rosacea. It’s generally well tolerated by all skin types. 

C = vitamin C. It’s an antioxidant, and helps protect the skin from sun damage, fades dark spots and evens out skin tone, and can improve collagen production and signs of ageing. 

Which one should I use?

Using all three is an excellent base for any skincare routine, but always introduce one new product at a time to avoid irritation. Which product to start with depends on what your main skin concern is. If it’s anti-ageing or acne, start with a retinoid, if it’s pigmentation, try vitamin C, and if it’s inflammation or sensitivity, start with vitamin B3. 

How should I use them? 

Always start with one product at a time. Retinoids and Vitamin C can be irritating, so start slowly, once or twice a week, and slowly increase how often you use them. Only once you’re tolerating one product should you add in another. Niacinamide can actually improve how well you tolerate retinoids, so if you’re finding your retinoid a bit irritating, try adding in some niacinamide first. 

Retinoids should be used in the evening because they can make your skin more sun sensitive, followed by moisturiser. 

Vitamin C should be used in the morning because it helps protect against sun damage, followed by moisturiser and sunscreen. 

Niacinamide can be used in the morning or evening. It’s often used in the evening, followed by a retinoid and moisturiser, as it helps reduce irritation from retinoids.




Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…