When it comes to skincare, there are thousands of ingredients to keep track of – even the most hardcore skincare enthusiast will occasionally struggle with knowing which ingredients they can and can’t use together.
Niacinamide and vitamin C are two of the most popular ingredients in the skincare world, both known for their amazing benefits. But can they be used together? The answer may surprise you.
In this article, we’ll break down the science behind vitamin C and niacinamide, and discuss whether or not it is truly safe to use these superstar ingredients in the same skincare routine.
Myth: You Should NOT Mix Niacinamide And Vitamin C
Whether you can mix niacinamide and vitamin C is still a highly debated topic to this day, with both sides able to provide evidence to prove their point.
So where does the confusion come in? Old research from the 1960s (yes, almost 70 years ago!), published some misleading results where they claimed that it is in fact not safe to use niacinamide and vitamin C together1.
They claimed that mixing the two ingredients converted the niacinamide to nicotinic acid, which caused skin redness and inflamed skin (known as flushing) in some people.
This study is where the myth was born, and this is why there are still such heated debates on the topic to this day. But why, you may be asking yourself, was this research misleading?
Well, firstly, the study used non-stabilized forms of niacinamide and pure ascorbic acid, which does not represent what is used in skin care products.
Secondly, the ingredients were mixed together at extremely high temperatures for very long periods of time2.
Since most people store their skincare products at room temperature or cooler, these findings are not relevant to the vitamin C and niacinamide products that we use today.
So, can you mix niacinamide and vitamin C?
Nowadays experts agree that it is perfectly safe to use these two ingredients in the same skin care routine, but there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.
Carry on reading to find out what!
What Is Vitamin C & What Are Its Benefits For Your Skin?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your skin from free radicals. There are many skin benefits3 of vitamin C, including:
- Boosting collagen production: Vitamin C is essential for stimulating collagen production, which is the protein that gives your skin its firmness and elasticity.
- Improving skin texture: Vitamin C can make the skin smoother and more supple, as well as reduce the appearance of pores.
- Protecting against UV damage: Vitamin C protects your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays, which can cause sunburn, premature aging, and even cancer.
- Brightening skin tone: Vitamin C can improve the appearance of dark spots and uneven skin tone, giving your skin a brighter and more even complexion.
- Reducing inflammation: Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm skin irritation and skin redness.
What Is Niacinamide & What Are Its Benefits For Your Skin?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is used in skincare products for its numerous benefits.
It is applied topically and well-tolerated by all skin types, even those with very sensitive skin.
Here are some of the benefits that niacinamide4 has for your skin:
- Regulates sebum production: Niacinamide can help regulate the amount of oil produced by the skin, thus preventing acne and other blemishes.
- Improves skin barrier function: Niacinamide can strengthen the skin barrier, thus helping to prevent moisture loss in the skin.
- Reduces hyperpigmentation: Niacinamide helps to reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color.
- Calms inflamed skin: Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm skin redness and irritation.
- Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles: Niacinamide is known to stimulate collagen synthesis in the skin, which can improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles5.
Can I Use Niacinamide And Vitamin C Together?
Now that the information overload is out of the way, you may still be asking yourself: “Can I use vitamin C with niacinamide?”.
The answer is yes, you can use niacinamide and vitamin C together! In fact, many skincare experts recommend using these two ingredients together for healthy skin.
Niacinamide and vitamin C are both water soluble antioxidants that work in tandem to protect the skin against environmental stressors and free radical damage.
Do I Put Niacinamide Before Or After Vitamin C?
Now for the golden question: niacinamide and vitamin C, which comes first? The answer isn’t as simple this time around, and there are a few things that you need to consider.
Most experts agree that you should apply your vitamin C serum before your niacinamide serum in your skincare routine6.
When you apply vitamin C first, it can help to improve the skin’s pH level and enhance the absorption of niacinamide, which can be more beneficial for the skin.
But, what if you have products containing niacinamide or vitamin C that aren’t serums?
The general rule of thumb with all skincare products is to apply thinnest to the thickest – that is, your essences, serums, etc., first, and then your moisturizers and emollients.
How Long To Wait Between Vitamin C And Niacinamide?
Once you have applied a vitamin C serum or niacinamide product to your skin, it is generally recommended to wait at least 10 – 15 minutes before applying the next7.
This is to help ensure that each ingredient is able to properly penetrate the skin and provide its intended benefits, without interfering with the other.
How Often Can I Use Vitamin C With Niacinamide?
You can use vitamin C with niacinamide as often as your skin tolerates them. Usually once per day for each product is sufficient.
However, it is important to start with a lower concentration of each ingredient and gradually increase the frequency and intensity of use to minimize the risk of skin irritation.
You can start by using vitamin C and niacinamide on alternate days to see how your skin responds, and gradually increase the frequency as needed.
Tips For Adding Vitamin C & Niacinamide To Your Beauty Regimen In A Safe Way
While there is no set way to add vitamin C and niacinamide to your beauty regimen, here are some tips on how to do it in a safe way:
- Patch test: Before adding any new product or combinations to your skincare routine, it is important to do a patch test to check for any sensitivities before applying them to your entire face8.
- Start slow: If you’re new to using vitamin C or niacinamide, start by using one product at a time and gradually introducing the other. This will help your skin adjust and minimize any risk of irritation.
- Choose wisely: Make sure that you are using vitamin C and niacinamide skincare products that are right for you and your skin type. If you have oily and acne-prone skin, use a niacinamide or vitamin C serum instead of a thick cream with niacinamide or vitamin C in it. If you have dryer skin, use the latter.
- Wear sunscreen: Both vitamin C and niacinamide can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so it’s important to use broad-spectrum sunscreen every day.
Benefits Of Mixing Niacinamide And Vitamin C
Combining niacinamide and vitamin C can provide enhanced brightening effects, improved anti-aging benefits, heightened calming effects, and improved collagen production.
When used in the same skincare routine, they enhance each other’s effects to provide a more even, radiant, and youthful complexion.
The individuals who will benefit the most from mixing these two superstar ingredients9 are those with:
- Hyperpigmentation and dark spots: Niacinamide and vitamin C are both known for their brightening properties and can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots.
- Prematurely aging skin: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can help protect the skin from environmental stressors, while niacinamide can help to improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Sensitive and inflamed skin: Niacinamide and vitamin C both have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe redness and irritation.
- Acne-prone and oily skin: Niacinamide can help regulate oil production, while vitamin C can help reduce inflammation and prevent breakouts.
Potential Risks & Side Effects Of Using Vitamin C With Niacinamide
There is a concern circulating in the skincare world that when niacinamide and vitamin C are used together, they may cancel out each other’s benefits or cause breakouts10.
This is suggested because vitamin C is an acidic ingredient (pH around 2.5-3.5), while niacinamide is a basic ingredient with optimum stability at pH around 6-7.5.
When they are combined, the pH balance of the skin can theoretically become disrupted, which can lead to irritation, redness, and dryness.
The evidence supporting these concerns, however, is mostly anecdotal and not supported by any scientific studies.
In fact, as I’ve mentioned before, other studies even suggest that the combination of these two ingredients are be beneficial for the skin, as they have complementary effects.
What Should You Not Mix Niacinamide With?
There are no known ingredients that should not be used with niacinamide.
Niacinamide is generally considered safe and well-tolerated and is often included in a variety of skincare products such as serums, moisturizers, and toners.
Interestingly, it can be very beneficial to pair niacinamide with retinol (it reduces drying and irritating effects of retinol!).
What Should You Not Mix Vitamin C With?
When using vitamin C in your routine, there are a few ingredients that should be avoided or used with caution to prevent any potential adverse reactions. These include:
Benzoyl peroxide: Benzoyl peroxide is a common acne-fighting ingredient that can oxidize vitamin C and make it less effective
AHAs and BHAs: Alpha-hydroxy acids and beta-hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid are exfoliating ingredients that can also cause skin irritation when used with vitamin C. You should not mix them (use at exactly he same time), but you can use vitamin C serum and glycolic acid in your skincare regimen – just at different times or with long wait time between them.
- Retinol: Both vitamin C and retinol are potent ingredients that can be very harsh on the skin when used together. You can still use them both in your beauty routine, just at different times of the day.
Wrap-Up: Can You Mix Niacinamide And Vitamin C In Your Skincare Routine?
After all that back and forth and conflicting evidence, you are probably still wondering: can you use niacinamide with vitamin C?
While most experts agree that it is perfectly safe to combine the two skincare ingredients, it is ultimately up to you to decide.
If you are concerned about any potential risks, try using them at different times of the day or on alternative days.
You can also always consult with your dermatologist to get personalized advice on how to use niacinamide and vitamin C safely and effectively in your specific skincare routine.
The purpose of this article is informative and entertaining. It’s not a substitute for medical consultation or medical care. The author of this article does not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Safety should be your priority.
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