Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, niacinamide is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging and blemish-prone skin. Among these benefits is the ability to visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness, and a weakened skin surface. Niacinamide can also mitigate and to some extent help visibly repair damage from UV light and offset other sources of environmental attack, including the negative impact of various types of airborne pollutants. Unlike many beneficial ingredients, niacinamide is stable in the presence of heat and light.
What about using vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and niacinamide in the same product or applied at the same time in separate products?
You might have read or heard that niacinamide and vitamin C shouldn’t be used at the same time, whether found together in the same product or applied separately one after the other. Rest assured, this combination is fine and is in fact quite beneficial!
The research this misconception is based on was conducted in the 1960s; the forms of niacinamide and vitamin C used in this study were not stabilized—although niacinamide itself is very stable. The base of the formula used in this study was also far different than today’s sophisticated skincare formulas. Today, cosmetic chemists know how to combine niacinamide and vitamin C in the ideal base formulas that enhance their compatibility.
The other common concern we’ve seen about combining these two ingredients has to do with the pH range. The concern is that the acidic environment ascorbic acid needs to be most effective will cause niacinamide will convert to nicotinic acid, a form that can be sensitizing, possibly inducing redness. Good news: This conversion process would only happen under conditions of the formula being exposed to very high heat for a long period of time. This would not apply to layering skincare products or to heat conditions that occur during manufacturing, transport, and storage of cosmetic products that contain niacinamide and ascorbic acid.
What all of this means is that you can use or layer products containing both niacinamide and vitamin C knowing that they will not render each other any less effective. Each of these ingredients on its own can help to address dark spots, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and dullness. When used together, they become even more of a powerhouse! This duo will help give you an even better chance at achieving a radiant, smooth, even, younger-looking complexion. We take a deeper dive into this topic in this article.
References for this information:
Experimental Dermatology, February 2019, Supplement 1, pages 15-22; and October 2018, ePublication
Dermatologic Therapy, September 2017, ePublication
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 2017, page S116
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, March 2017, pages 158-162; and January 2013, Pages 192-201
Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, May 2016 , pages 145-152
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, July 2015, pages 405-412
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2014, pages 311-315
International Journal of Pharmacy, January 2013, pages 192-201
Dermatoendrocrinology, July 2012, pages 308-319
Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 31, Part 2, 2005, Discussion 865
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2004, pages 231-238
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About the Experts
Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:
The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!