In the realm of skincare ingredients, it doesn’t get much better than niacinamide and vitamin C. Seriously, name two ingredients that are better workhorses for radiance and hyperpigmentation than these superstars.
Since vitamin C and niacinamide do so many great things for skin on their own, it’s natural to wonder if you can mix the two or layer them on top of each other. I talked to dermatologist Joyce Imahiyerobo-Ip, MD, FAAD, owner of Vibrant Dermatology and SkinBar MD, to get the lowdown on mixing actives.
First of all, vitamin C and niacinamide are both vitamins—niacinamide is also known as vitamin B3. They both help improve skin, and their differences work in complementary ways.
“As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to neutralize harmful free-radicals and environmental toxins that may come in contact with the skin,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip. “Vitamin C has photo-protective properties, which help to combat UV-induced skin damage. It also plays an important role in collagen synthesis and wound healing.” It can also help treat and prevent hyperpigmentation by decreasing melanin production.
Niacinamide, on the other hand, chiefly helps improve skin barrier function by keeping skin moisturized. “It does this by improving ceramide production and by preventing the evaporation of water from the skin into the environment,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip. Niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe irritated or inflamed skin.”
But that’s not all—niacinamide has some of the same properties as vitamin C. It also helps boost collagen production and stop melanin production, making it an anti-hyperpigmentation hero.
Short answer: yes. “While Vitamin C and niacinamide impact the skin in similar ways—stimulating collagen, improving pigmentation, and increasing the skin antioxidant capacities—they do so by different mechanisms of action,” says Imahiyerobo-Ip. She explains that by using vitamin C and niacinamide together, you can end up with better results than using them alone.
If you want to use niacinamide and vitamin C in tandem, Imahiyerobo-Ip recommends layering the two ingredients rather than trying to find a product formula that contains both. “Vitamin C can be a very unstable molecule, and I would not use a product that combined both vitamin C and niacinamide into one formulation,” she says. When layering, always go from the lightest ingredient (like a serum) to the thickest ingredient (like a moisturizer).