Can You Layer Vitamin C & Niacinamide? It Depends — Mind This Derm's Tip
Ask any skin care expert their go-to ingredients, and chances are vitamin C makes it into the curated list. Many would even consider the brightening active an absolute must-have. Although, there's an up-andcoming contender gunning for the No. 1 spot in your skin care routine: Niacinamide (aka vitamin B3) is quickly rising the ranks to become the next holy grail ingredient. For good reason: It helps lock in moisture, even the skin tone, strengthen the skin barrier, and more.
So let's say you're interested in trying out this lesser-known active, yet you already have a trusty vitamin C serum on hand. Is it time to pick and choose your treatments, or can you (gasp!) use them both? Here's what the science says.
Can you combine vitamin C and niacinamide?
Short answer? Yes! Niacinamide actually carries similar benefits to vitamin C, anyway—that is, fading hyperpigmentation and minimizing fine lines. What's more, research shows niacinamide can help stabilize notoriously fussy vitamin C.
Although, if your skin falls more on the sensitive side, you might want to proceed with caution, here. Some much older research has shown that mixing vitamin C—specifically the unstable ascorbic acid—with niacinamide can convert it to the compound niacin, which can cause flushing (read: blotchy, inflamed skin). That's why many experts (including board-certified internist and holistic skin care expert Zion Ko Lamm, M.D., in a recent TikTok video) would advise to proceed with caution when layering the two ingredients, especially if your skin is already sensitive to niacinamide itself. However, the science may be a bit overstated: It actually takes extremely high heat for the two ingredients to convert to niacin, which is unlikely to happen in skin care formulations.
If you are at all worried, though, there is a way to reap the benefits of both without fear of flushing: "Let vitamin C completely dry prior to placing niacinamide," Lamm notes in her video. That way, the ascorbic acid has a chance to settle into the skin, and there's a smaller chance of combining the two actives.
Of course, you should always apply your skin care products thinnest to thickest: If you have a niacinamide serum and a vitamin-C-infused moisturizer, apply the serum first, and follow up with the cream. General skin care rules still apply, folks.
The bottom line? You can combine ascorbic acid (or vitamin C) and niacinamide—it likely won't cause issues, but feel free to use Lamm's hack to nip any sort of chemical reaction in the bud. That's not to say you should keep piling serum upon serum: When it comes to treatment steps, less is usually more. Patting in too many active ingredients can either cause them to start to cancel each other out or cause irritation—especially when you start introducing acne treatments.
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