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Can You Use Niacinamide With Vitamin C?

A board-certified dermatologist weighs in.

July 24, 2023

Vitamin C
and niacinamide are a pretty controversial duo; some say it’s okay (and even beneficial) to pair the two together, while some say they should only be used in separate routines. This begs the question:  is it okay to pair niacinamide and vitamin C? Both help to brighten and fade dark spots, and niacinamide can help to soothe the skin, so it would seem beneficial to use both in the same routine, right? To get some answers, we tapped Michelle Henry, MD FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant. Spoiler alert: You can pair niacinamide and vitamin C, but there are some things to keep in mind, and we’re sharing those, below.
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What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that helps to soothe redness, reduce hyperpigmentation and aid in hydration, per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). The great thing about topical niacinamide is that it has minimal side effects, per the NCBI. 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, and it also contributes to fortifying the skin barrier and reducing inflammation,” she says. 

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant known for its brightening and anti-aging abilities in topical skin care applications, per the NCBI. There’s a good chance you already use a vitamin C serum or moisturizer in your morning routine to fight hyperpigmentation and dullness. There are many different forms of vitamin C found in topical skin care; L-ascorbic acid is vitamin C in its strongest and purest form, and it’s highly effective in topical skin care applications, per the NCBI. 

Can You Use Niacinamide With Vitamin C?

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 both ingredients ineffective. Vitamin C serums can become unstable when the formula is exposed to air and sunlight. A good indication that your vitamin C serum is no longer stable is if it becomes a dark, amber color. 

Today, formulations have improved and sometimes, niacinamide can be successfully paired with vitamin C, but you really have to pay attention to the products you’re using. In fact, it’s highly situational, but your best chance is to use vitamin C serum and niacinamide serum formulated to be used together. L’Oréal Paris recommends using 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 in the same routine to target dullness and dark spots. This way, you can confidently use both in the same regimen because the brand has formulated them with the intention to pair if needed.

Worth noting: Revitalift Derm Intensives 12% Pure Vitamin C + E + Salicylic Acid Serum comes in an opaque glass bottle with an anti-UV shield to protect the formula from the elements. This way, you can use every last drop. 

Which Goes First: Vitamin C or Niacinamide?

Skin care application always starts from products with the thinnest consistency and graduates to 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. If you’re using the aforementioned L’Oréal Paris serums, apply the vitamin C first, followed by the niacinamide serum, and finish with the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream.

Additionally, give your serums a few minutes to absorb before applying your moisturizer. The skin should feel slightly damp when you smooth it on, not slippery and wet. 

Next: The Best Drugstore Face Sunscreen to Use for Year-Round Coverage

Photo Design: Sarah Duvivier

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