A regular skin care routine can do a lot to improve the health and appearance of your skin. Of course, picking out the perfect products for your needs and skin type can feel overwhelming when you have so many different ingredients to choose from.
Vitamin C and niacinamide are two popular ingredients that offer a host of potential benefits, from helping relieve inflammation to brightening your skin.
Since they offer complementary benefits, it might stand to reason that using them both can, in a sense, enhance their effects. But if you’ve come across older guidance suggesting you should avoid combining vitamin C and niacinamide, you might wonder whether it’s actually a good idea to use both products.
These ingredients feature in plenty of skin care products, so you might want to make sure you can add them to your routine safely as you explore new products to try.
Here’s the good news: Yes, you can use products that contain vitamin C with products that contain niacinamide in your skin care routine.
Below, get the details on what each ingredient does for skin, plus tips to effectively incorporate them into your skin care routine.
Why do some people think it’s unsafe to mix the two?
Dr. Meena Singh, a board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon at KMC Hair Center, explains:
“This stems from outdated research using pure forms of niacinamide with ascorbic acid. They were combined at a very high temperature and shown to form nicotinic acid, which can lead to skin irritation,” says Singh.
Of course, since you’ll probably be storing and using your skin care products at room temperature, you don’t really run the risk of forming nicotinic acid when you combine them at home.
You can absolutely use vitamin C and niacinamide together, Singh goes on to emphasize.
That said, if you ever have any doubts as to whether it’s safe to mix two skin care ingredients, a dermatologist can always offer advice.
Now that you know it’s safe to use both ingredients, you might want to learn more about their actual benefits for your skin.
This powerful antioxidant
- Offering pro-aging support. Vitamin C can boost collagen production, which can help firm up skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Brightening skin. Vitamin C can help reduce hyperpigmentation, or darker areas of skin, and improve dullness, giving your skin that glow you’re after.
- Reducing inflammation. Vitamin C can also help relieve blotchy or inflamed patches of skin — just keep in mind that it could actually contribute to irritation if you have sensitive skin.
- Reducing the appearance of scars. Vitamin C can also accelerate wound healing, so it could ultimately help fade scars from acne and other skin damage.
Read more about the benefits of vitamin C for your skin.
Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, also offers
- Improved hydration. Niacinamide hydrates the skin and helps strengthen your skin barrier, which can help protect against water loss.
- Reduced hyperpigmentation. Like vitamin C, niacinamide can help even out skin tone by reducing areas of hyperpigmentation on your skin.
- Aging support. Niacinamide can also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of skin aging.
- Shrink the appearance of pores. You can’t truly shrink the size of your pores, but topical niacinamide could help make them look smaller.
- Reduced acne. In search of a new acne treatment? Ask a dermatologist about trying topical niacinamide, which can help regulate sebum production and lead to fewer acne breakouts. Plus, it can also help improve redness and swelling.
- Reduced facial redness. Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties make it a beneficial ingredient for treating redness or discoloration, flushing, and inflammation caused by skin conditions like rosacea.
Learn more about the benefits of niacinamide for your skin.
Wondering how to go about adding these ingredients to your skin care routine?
Singh recommends applying products containing these ingredients before you layer on moisturizer and sunscreen.
If one product has a thinner formulation, apply that one first — but it’s also possible to find some products, like serums or masks, that contain both components.
A few things to keep in mind when adding new products to your routine:
- Pace yourself. Start with one new product at a time and wait at least a week before adding another product. If you have more sensitive skin, consider waiting an additional week or two before adding something new.
- Start with one application per day, or every other day. Even if your skin can tolerate anything you try fairly well, it’s never a bad idea to start using new products slowly — especially if you already use a range of products. This can give your skin more time to adjust.
- Always do a patch test first. When considering a new facial product, try it out on a small area of facial skin first — behind your ear or along your jaw, for example. Apply a small amount of product and wait at least 24 hours. If you don’t notice any irritation, go ahead and try the product on the rest of your face.
- Consider safe storage. Always check product labels to find out how to best store them. Singh notes that while most skin care products use stable forms of vitamin C instead of ascorbic acid, which can become unstable when exposed to sunlight and oxygen, you’ll still want to keep any products containing vitamin C at room temperature, away from sunlight.
There’s always a chance that skin care products may not agree with your skin, even if they contain ingredients — such as vitamin C and niacinamide — generally known to offer skin benefits.
Plenty of different factors, including your skin type, genes, and any existing skin conditions, can all have an impact on whether a specific skin care product will work for you.
That’s why it’s essential to do a patch test, first of all, but also pay attention to any signs of a potential unwanted reaction. You might not notice any adverse effects right away, but you might begin to notice increased breakouts, or other irritation, a few days or weeks down the line.
Here’s how to tell if you’re experiencing a breakout or skin purging.
According to Singh, skin irritation is the most common side effect people notice with both niacinamide and vitamin C.
Any redness or discoloration, itching, and stinging during your patch test suggests that the product most likely won’t play nice with your skin.
If you notice irritation after using a skin care or beauty product, it’s always best to stop using it and check with a dermatologist before trying it again.
Want to give these skin care ingredients a try? Singh recommends the following products:
Both vitamin C and niacinamide have the potential to benefit your skin in plenty of ways. Combine these powerhouse ingredients by layering them, or try using a product that contains both — just don’t forget to do a patch test first.
Keep in mind, too, that it’s always best to check with a dermatologist before trying new skin care ingredients if you have ultra-sensitive skin or a skin condition like rosacea or cystic acne.
Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with chronic migraine who has a particular interest in health and wellness. When she’s not click-clacking away on her keyboard, she’s probably nose-deep in a good book.