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You may be familiar with vitamin C from seeing it advertised in bright font on the front of your orange juice bottle every morning. Eating and consuming vitamin C in its food and liquid forms certainly has a wealth of health benefits, but what about when it comes to skin care? Maybe you’ve wondered if vitamin C has similar positive effects on the skin when applied topically.
While vitamin C is a beautiful ingredient found in many forms, it’s not the only prima ballerina in this ballet. Niacinamide also hits an impactful punch when added into a skin care routine. But what exactly is niacinamide? Even more interestingly—does layering vitamin c and niacinamide allow them to work better for your skin or are they better off foes?
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant that comes in lots of different forms. You can find it in everything from serums, eye creams, facial oils to even shampoos! You’ll hear it referred to as l-ascorbic acid most commonly. This is vitamin C’s most productive form, but is also incredibly unstable and can cause irritation to certain skin types due to its low pH.
Fast Science Fact: L-ascorbic acid is a highly powerful ingredient when formulated at a low pH around 3.5. This low pH makes it highly acidic to the human skin mantle, which enjoys a neutral pH of 5-6, and thus can cause irritation to some people’s skin.
Thanks to technological advances, scientists have been able to make plenty of derivatives of this potent ingredient that are just as efficacious as l-ascorbic acid minus the higher chance of undesirable side effects.
Here at Annmarie Skin Care, we love the derivatives sodium ascorbate and tetrahexyldecyl-ascorbate (THDA to keep it short and sweet!) You can find sodium ascorbate in our lovely Wild Fruit Serum – Brightening Facial Complex and THDA in Brighten from our Concentrated Boosting Elixirs trio. These three are not serums, but boosters that you can mix in with your own serums and moisturizers to max out that glow (just 1-3 drops is enough, as they are potent and highly activated), making it an easy product to introduce to any pre-existing regimen.
What Is Niacinamide?
Now back to our friend, niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide. Those of us struggling with congested pores will especially love this ingredient for its exfoliation properties. A type of vitamin B3, niacinamide is water-soluble and incredibly helpful in lightly exfoliating the skin to target the look of dark spots, smooth texture and add an overall radiance to your complexion.
Niacinamide is the kid who plays nice on the playground and is beloved by those who have more sensitive skin because it’s gentle, while remaining a wonderful brightening agent. Your pores cannot physically change in size, but niacinamide is an ingredient that works to diminish the appearance of more prominent pores.
It’s a privilege to age and we celebrate every skin type here at ASC. We also love to provide information on how to take care of your skin as you grow older for those who are looking to learn. For both younger and more mature skin, niacinamide is great at helping your skin retain moisture to keep your face looking more firm, toned and less dull.
Uneven skin tone is something many people deal with at one time or another in their life and can be caused by multiple factors, ranging from stress to the environment. Niacinamide incorporated into a consistent skin care routine, coupled with sunscreen, can be great to combat the look of uneven color on the skin.
Pro-tip: Microneedle patches are an up-and-coming trend in the skin care world, and while not nearly as powerful as dermatological treatments like microneedling, have been shown to have positive results in targeting the look of uneven color on the skin. Coupling a niacinamide serum with microneedle patches may be worth considering. It’s always important to patch test any new product before use and consult your doctor or physician with any questions.
Niacinamide can come in varying forms, just like vitamin C, and that includes cruelty-free and plant-based sources. Pulled from nicotinic acid, which can be found in both whole grains and brewer’s yeast, niacinamide is beloved in the natural skin care sphere. As with all of your skin care products, we encourage you to take the time and research which ones work best for your skin type.
High-quality ingredients with traceable sources can really change the game for your skin, because you’ll know exactly what you’re applying. If you’re unsure or need more details, don’t hesitate to reach out to the brand you’re purchasing from.
Does Vitamin C and Niacinamide Work Together?
Now it’s time for the million dollar question. Does vitamin C and niacinamide work together? The truth is—it’s a little complicated (more on that below in the “Fast Science Fact” section).
But, the short answer? Yes!
Fast Science Fact: The counter argument for not combining vitamin C and niacinamide comes from older studies where pure forms of niacinamide and ascorbic acid were paired together at extremely high temperatures, resulting in the creation of nicotinic acid. Skin can become irritated from nicotinic acid and so the idea that the two ingredients should be separated came to be.
However, with the different ways you can combine these two ingredients, alongside the multiple options available today of vitamin C—like gentle, oil-soluble THDA, there are ways to combine vitamin C and niacinamide that can be both pleasant on and effective for the skin.
Benefits of Layering Vitamin C and Niacinamide
There are visible benefits in combining vitamin C and niacinamide, such as:
- Temporarily minimizing the redness that comes from clogged pores.
- Reducing the look of uneven color on the skin.
- Addressing multiple skin concerns at the same time: Vitamin C is wonderful at giving that lit-from-within glow and especially a great ally for oily skin types, while niacinamide has been shown to help balance the skin’s natural oils, which is great news for those with oily skin types.
- Increasing skin resilience: The antioxidant-rich vitamin C protects against environmental stressors creating a defensive shield for skin and the niacinamide enhances the plumpness of skin for a vibrant, bouncy-looking complexion.
- Targeting different signs of aging: In using both, you are able to tackle the overall concerns of aging skin from multiple directions.
How to Layer Vitamin C and Niacinamide
Keep in mind that these two ingredients are both potent in their own right, so it’s best to be cautious if you have more sensitive skin if you plan on layering vitamin C and niacinamide.
- For sensitive skin types, start slow
Start once a week, or even every two weeks, and work your way up to combining the two actives. Remember, it’s always best to go slow when incorporating new products into your skin care regimen.
- Apply vitamin C first and let it dry
It is recommended to layer the products, applying your vitamin C first, then following with niacinamide.
The reason for this is because the most common form of vitamin C—which is featured in most skin care products—is susceptible to decreased efficacy when oxidized or exposed to sunlight. When you apply your vitamin C first, you are able to allow the product to be absorbed and set to get the most out of this ingredient.
- Once your vitamin C sets, apply niacinamide
Then, once dried, apply niacinamide, which is more durable compared to its vitamin C counterpart.
Though, if you are applying a more stable form of vitamin C (like THDA), this is less of a concern. For example, you could apply 1-3 drops of Brighten from our Concentrated Boosting Elixirs into your existing serum before niacinamide or simply add the 1-3 drops directly to your niacinamide product.
- Or, use a product that includes both ingredients
Alternatively, you could also apply a serum that includes both vitamin C and niacinamide in its single formulation.
Research Is Your Friend
The best advocate in your personal skin health journey is you. It’s crucial to research what you’re putting on your skin and where those products are sourced from. The Annmarie Skin Care team takes our own advice and has been sourcing traceable, organically-grown ingredients that work with your skin from the very beginning. We don’t offer any niacinamide products at this time, but if you’re in the market for a vitamin C product—made with nourishing and high-quality ingredients—head on over to our serum & elixirs collection!
Frequently Ask Questions
How long to wait between vitamin c and niacinamide application?
It depends on your individual skin type, but it’s usually recommended to wait a minute or two until one product has dried before applying the other. Vitamin C is typically recommended to be applied first, then followed by niacinamide. If applying in different skin care sessions, apply vitamin C in the morning and niacinamide in the evening.
Can I use vitamin c and niacinamide together at night?
As long as you don’t have very sensitive skin, most people consider it fine to use the two together at night. Nighttime is a great time to use actives because you don’t have to worry about the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Vitamin C and Niacinamide are fine to use during the daytime, but if you are layering them for the first time, it’s a good idea to do so at night to allow you time to monitor for any reaction.
Can I use niacinamide with vitamin c and hyaluronic acid?
Yes, you can use niacinamide with vitamin C and hyaluronic acid if you practice caution and don’t have extremely sensitive skin.
Hyaluronic acid is very hydrating for the skin and allows for better absorption of any ingredients layered on top of it, and both niacinamide and vitamin C are activated ingredients. The more ingredients you combine, the higher the chance of your skin becoming irritated—especially for those who experience sensitivities—due to the possibility of your skin being overwhelmed by the concentrated potency. Start slowly incorporating one at a time into your routine for best results. Then, if your skin can tolerate it, layer as you see fit.
Here are some of the ways you can apply combined forms of these ingredients. For example, you may find a serum that includes both hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, which you can apply in the morning and your niacinamide product in the evening. Or you could apply your serum with hyaluronic acid, then follow up with a niacinamide moisturizer that you add 1-3 drops of our vitamin C Concentrated Boosting Elixir, Brighten, to.