Your routine is about to get a whole lot more active. No, we’re not talking squats at the gym (we’re still working on those holiday pounds, too), but stronger potency skincare for faster and better results. New anti-aging launches from major skincare brands are now requiring that you mix together ingredients to prime the product for use. But while it’s certainly great fun to feel a bit like a mad scientist in your own bathroom, is the chemistry play really accomplishing anything significant?

Experts say yes; it’s not just clever marketing. In fact, the process could be a game changer when it involves two ingredients in particular: vitamin C and retinol. Heralded as the gold standard in anti-aging skincare today, these two elements are volatile when active, and therefore difficult to blend into preparations without sacrificing efficacy.

“Formulating products with finicky vitamin C that is actually active when it reaches the skin is especially challenging since it needs an acidic pH base and to be kept away from UV light,” explains Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Dermatology Research at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. “By mixing the product right before you use it, you can help ensure that the active is more potent.”

Additionally, San Francisco dermatologist Kathy Fields, M.D., co-founder of Rodan + Fields, a brand that has recently launched mixing technology, says that formulating retinol with vitamin C can cause both otherwise powerful anti-agers to degrade in the presence of one another. “You need active ingredients in the most potent dose and applied the right way, to give you a dramatic difference in the quality of skin,” says Fields.

We found a few good ways to get in on the action.

Philosophy Time In A BottlePhilosophy Time In A Bottle ($74) works by pouring vividly tangerine-colored vitamin C into a serum powered with retinyl palmitate (a form of vitamin A related to retinol), lactic acid and coffee bean extract. The brand claims the renewal complex supports healthy DNA function by aiding skin’s natural rejuvenation process for brighter skin with less visible wrinkles.


Rodan + Fields

Rodan + Fields is offering a vitamin C and retinol lotion duo that comes in two different tubes. Instructions say to combine a dab from each tube in the palm of your hand before mixing together to release the actives as you apply to your face. These Dual Active Brightening Complex 3C and 3R Formulas ($93 for both) are the latest installments of the brand’s Reverse Regimen that targets wrinkles and discoloration.


Arbonne Intelligence GeniusArbonne Intelligence Genius ($95) pairs textured night pads with an intensive retinoid serum that you pour over to saturate the cotton rounds. Ingredients activated include two versions of plant and scientific retinoids, mandelic acid and bitter orange oil for sun spot and fine wrinkle reduction and overall radiance.


Wilma Schumann Lipo C Plus

Finally, Wilma Schumann Lipo C Plus ($68) is a straight-up vitamin C emulsion for the purists. Before using the product for the first time, the pink cap is pressed to release a fresh surge of skin-brightening vitamin C that helps illuminate the complexion and fend off environmental aggressors.


READ MORE: How to Layer Your Skincare Products for Maximum Results