Can you use Niacinamide and vitamin C together? You may have heard that combining both ingredients is negative, even dangerous. But disregard the rumors and let’s rely on existing information to debunk this myth that continues to spread like wildfire.
Both ingredients are antioxidants that are used to brighten and improve the signs of skin aging, so it would be a wonder if they could be combined in the same routine, right?
The reality is yes, you can use vitamin C along with niacinamide in your skincare routine. Read on to learn the origin of this myth, the benefits of each of these antioxidants separately and how to use them together for optimal results.
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What is the origin of this myth?
The origin of the belief that these two ingredients are not compatible dates back to a study conducted in 1960. In it, unstabilized forms of ascorbic acid and niacinamide were used at very high temperatures, which resulted in the formation of nicotinic acid, a compound that could cause skin irritation and redness.
What happens is that in our home we store our skin care product bottles at room temperature, and therefore there is no possibility of creating nicotinic acid.
In fact, even leaving these actives in the sun for two days would not allow them to reach such a temperature. Therefore, it is safe to use any form of vitamin C with niacinamide in your skincare products.
What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide or nicotinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3 found in meat, dairy products and some nuts and legumes. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is able to penetrate the skin due to its small molecular size and provides multiple benefits when applied topically.
This vitamin works together with some substances naturally present in the skin to improve the quality of the skin barrier by preventing dehydration and diminishing the appearance of blemishes. It controls excess sebum production in oily skin (reduces the appearance of blackheads and enlarged pores) and smoothes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, among others.
If you look at the labels of your skincare products, you’ll find it in many moisturizers, especially those aimed at reducing irritation and redness and repairing the damaged skin barrier.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals, molecules that are produced when the body is exposed to the sun or environmental pollutants, for example.
We cannot produce it and have to ingest it, which is why it is so important to incorporate foods that contain it into our diet to get it. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb and store iron.
Still, just because we consume it doesn’t mean it reaches the skin.
That’s why we count on vitamin C in many skin care products for its ability to brighten, even tone, improve the appearance of dark circles or signs of aging.
Some clinical studies have shown that vitamin C can improve wrinkles and fine lines, and is excellent in combination with other ingredients such as ferulic acid and vitamin E, as well as working with sunscreen to protect skin from long-term damage.
Find the most common vitamin C myths.
Can niacinamide and vitamin C be used together?
The answer is a resounding yes: we can use niacinamide and vitamin C together in the same routine. In fact, it is not uncommon to find them together in the same product formula.
What’s more: combining both antioxidants will provide us with multiple benefits due to their complementary nature, as they attack the signs of skin aging from different angles.
While vitamin C inhibits an enzyme called tyrosinase, which is responsible for the formation of melanin in the skin (the pigment we create naturally), niacinamide blocks the transfer of this pigment between cells.
Tips for getting the most out of the combination of niacinamide and vitamin C
The best way to apply these two ingredients to the skin is in layers, using a product containing one active ingredient first and then the other. It is best to do this in your morning routine, just before your moisturizer and sunscreen.
Can you also use a product containing both active ingredients? Also, although we could say that vitamin C is a bit “finicky” when formulating with it and needs a different pH than niacinamide to work optimally, so it will likely contain a more stable, but also less effective, derivative form of vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
So to use both ingredients together, here are some tips to follow:
- Do a patch test with both products: to confirm that the mixture of the two actives suits your skin, do a patch test on an area such as the wrist and monitor the results over the next few hours. If you notice burning or redness, stop using it.
- Store away from sunlight and heat sources: this applies to any cosmetic product, but is especially important for products containing vitamin C because it oxidizes easily under these conditions.
- Avoid redundancies: check the labels of the products you are using and see if there is the presence of these two ingredients in more than one. More than likely you are already using them in moisturizers, especially niacinamide, which is much more common (and cheaper to formulate with than vitamin C).