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How To Use Niacinamide and Vitamin C Together In Your Skincare Routine

A board-certified dermatologist weighs in.

  • Cat Matta
May 23, 2024

Vitamin C and niacinamide are two popular skincare ingredients, both known for their brightening and anti-aging benefits. Knowing how potent each can be on its own, it’s only natural to wonder if you can use niacinamide and vitamin C together to take your skincare to a new level. After all, it’s easy to reason that two effective ingredients would be better than one. But there’s actually some debate about whether combining certain ingredients, including niacinamide and vitamin C, can have unexpected effects. That’s why we tapped an expert to clear the air on if you can use niacinamide with vitamin C.

Ahead, see what Michelle Henry, MD, FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant, had to say about using vitamin C and niacinamide at the same time. You’ll also learn more about the benefits of each—and ways in which they can complement each other.

What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps to visibly diminish redness, reduce the appearance of dark spots, and aid in hydration, per the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. The great thing about topical niacinamide is that it has minimal side effects, too. Furthermore, Dr. Henry recommends the ingredient for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, and for those with sensitive skin. “It contributes to moisturizing the skin,” she says. “And it also contributes to fortifying the skin barrier and reducing inflammation,”

Try the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum, which instantly makes skin feel fresher and more luminous, with visibly clearer skin after two weeks of continued use. This niacinamide serum with amino sulfonic acid and ferulic acid targets all types of dark spots, like post-acne marks, sun spots, and age spots.* Plus, it’s suitable for all skin tones.

*In a clinical study over 12 weeks, expert grading of dark spots (age & sun spots) and post-acne marks.

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant known for its brightening and anti-aging abilities in topical skincare applications. There’s a good chance you already use a vitamin C serum or moisturizer in your morning routine to help fight discoloration and dullness. And there are many different forms of vitamin C found in topical skincare. For instance, L-ascorbic acid is vitamin C in its strongest and purest form, making it highly effective in topical skincare applications.

Inarticle Niacinamide And Vitamin C Revitalift12serum

Our L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum, which blends L-Ascorbic acid with vitamin E and salicylic acid, helps give your skin an instant dose of radiance while also helping to reduce the look of enlarged pores and fine lines. Ultimately, it helps give your skin a brighter, more refined, youthful appearance. Over time, clinical results with dermatologists showed 70% brighter and 83% smoother skin with 59% less visible pores in eight weeks.

Can You Use Vitamin C With Niacinamide?

For years, it was recommended to use niacinamide and vitamin C in separate routines because vitamin C formulations weren’t always stable, Dr. Henry says. Furthermore, per the Indian Dermatology Online Journal, when a vitamin C formula isn’t stable, it’s not as effective on the skin, and when you pair it with certain ingredients, like niacinamide, that can make for a less effective product. That said, even the best vitamin C serums can become unstable when they’re exposed to air and sunlight. So keep your products featuring vitamin C in a cool, dark place, and if they start turning a dark, amber color, it’s time to give ‘em a toss. (It’s worth noting, our RevitaLift Vitamin C Serum comes in an opaque glass bottle with an anti-UV shield to protect the formula from the elements.)

Today, however, formulations have improved and these two ingredients can play nice. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should use any vitamin C product with any niacinamide product, but there are options. One way to add both ingredients to your routine is with a product that contains niacinamide and vitamin C. If you use a professionally-formulated product (nothing DIY) with both ingredients, you can rest assured that the entire formula has been tested to ensure the ingredients will work together.

Another option for experiencing the benefits of both is to use separate products that are meant to be paired together. We recommend this route, which works great with our aforementioned vitamin C and niacinamide serums. The two lightweight formulas were designed specifically so they could be layered together if needed. So, you can confidently use them both (morning and night) to target dullness and dark spots.

Benefits of Pairing Vitamin C with Niacinamide

Vitamin C and niacinamide can be a powerhouse couple in skincare because of their complementary benefits and shared goal—to help your skin look brighter, more even, and healthier.

Here’s a quick recap of the combined benefits of vitamin C and niacinamide:

  • Vitamin C:
    • Provides antioxidant protection from free radicals and sun damage
    • Has anti-aging properties by helping to protect the skin
    • Helps fade the appearance of sun spots and other dark spots
  • Niacinamide:
    • Boosts hydration, which may help your skin barrier function properly
    • Calms visible redness
    • Reduces the appearance of enlarged pores by helping to keep your skin more clear and smooth-looking
    • Lightens the look of dark spots to help visibly brighten your skin tone

How To Layer Vitamin C and Niacinamide

Inarticle Niacinamide And Vitamin C BrightRevealSPF50

Skin care applications should always start with products that have the thinnest consistency and graduate to the thickest, so the answer to this question really depends on the formulation you’re using. If you’re pairing a vitamin C serum with a niacinamide moisturizer, the serum goes first followed by the moisturizer and vice versa. To help simplify how to layer vitamin C and niacinamide, we’ve put together the following routine.

Step 1. Cleanse

It’s always best to start with a clean canvas, so get the ball rolling by thoroughly cleansing. (Psst… Find the best face wash for your skin type here.)

Step 2. Apply serums

Here’s where you can put our vitamin C and niacinamide serums into action. While your face is still a little damp from washing it, apply the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum and L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal 12% [Niacinamide + Amino Sulfonic + Ferulic Acid] Dark Spot Serum. The former is thinner (so it should be applied first), while the latter is slightly more viscous (meaning you should apply it second).

Step 3. Moisturize

Now lock in all that vitamin C and niacinamide goodness with some proper hydration. Check out L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. This lightweight, non-greasy yet deeply hydrating moisturizer loves all skin tones and types—including sensitive ones. The formula with micro hyaluronic acid and ceramides helps instantly quench your skin with 50% more moisture. In about two weeks’ time, your skin will look bouncier, with fine lines less visible, as well as appear brighter, younger, and healthier.

Step 4. Use sunscreen

In the daytime, regardless of if it’s a bright day or a cloudy one, always finish off your routine with sunscreen. We’re partial to L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion. Lightweight, non-greasy, and seamlessly blendable with all skin tones, this broad-spectrum sunscreen helps protect all skin types against both UVA and UVB rays. And bonus: It also contains vitamin C and vitamin E, another couple of ingredients that work well together, plus it makes an excellent primer for makeup.

How Long Should You Wait Between Vitamin C and Niacinamide?

If you use separate vitamin C and niacinamide products (as opposed to one formula that combines both ingredients), be sure to give the first one you apply ample opportunity to absorb before you layer on the next one. We’re not saying that it has to completely dry down before you move forward, but your skin should feel slightly damp—not overly slippery or wet.

Next: Why Niacinamide and Salicylic Acid Are a Skincare Power Duo

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