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Can combining Vitamin C and Niacinamide negate their respective effects?

Creating combinations of active ingredients can prove beneficial for the skin, where each ingredient offers a list of different advantages to enhance the skin's appearance. However, some mixtures can be delicate and incompatible, to the point of negating the effects or causing irritation and inflammation. Is this the case for niacinamide and vitamin C?

Are Vitamin C and Niacinamide compatible for combined use?

It is common to read that vitamin C and niacinamide, although effective on their own, are not compatible. Their combination would neutralize their effects. Similarly, it is reported that the two compounds could potentially react to produce nicotinic acid, which can lead to skin reactions such as redness, itching, and temporary irritation. However, such a phenomenon occurred when pure vitamin C and niacinamide were formulated and maintained at high temperatures.

For improved chemical stability in topical formulations, most skincare products nowadays contain derivatives of Vitamin Csuch as ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, ascorbyl glucoside, etc.

Vitamin C and its derivativesNiacinamide
Neutralizing free radicals (antioxidant)Neutralizing free radicals (antioxidant)
Lightening and evening out irregular skin tone (brown spots)Lightening and evening out irregular skin tone (brown spots)
Alleviate irritated and inflamed areas, and reduce redness (anti-inflammatory)Alleviate irritated and inflamed areas, and reduce redness (anti-inflammatory)
Reducing wrinkles and improving skin elasticityReducing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity
Regulating Sebum ProductionRegulating Sebum Production
Accelerating the healing processStrengthening the skin's natural barrier and protecting against water loss
/Minimizing the appearance of enlarged pores

However, given that they offer similar benefits and both target the same skin concerns, it would be logical that their combined use could, in a sense, enhance their effects. Indeed, scientists suggest combining them. Even though they provide the same advantages, niacinamide and vitamin C work in synergy through different biological mechanisms to exert their effects. They thus address skin issues from different angles and would therefore be complementary.

It would therefore apparently be relevant to combine these two active ingredients to enhance their effects on the concerns they address, without causing skin reactions or impacting their efficacy. Indeed, studies have shown that it is possible to safely mix them, whether together in the same formulation or in layers using different products, particularly as a solution to photoaging and uneven skin pigmentation.

melanogenesis than a single agent. The vitamin C results in a decrease in melanin synthesis by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme necessary for its production, while niacinamide prevents the transfer of melanosomes from melanocytes to epidermal keratinocytes.

This blend of active ingredients has also demonstrated a reduction in the synthesis and content of melanin pigments in the skin by modulating the oxidative stress induced by UV radiation (antioxidant property), a primary mediator of the melanogenesis process, but also by inhibiting the degradation of collagen and elastin fibers by metalloproteinases.

How can we best incorporate niacinamide and vitamin C into a skincare routine?

Today, there are countless facial cleansers, toners, moisturizers, serums, and eye contour treatments that contain both vitamin C and niacinamide in their formulas. You can also layer two independent treatments in the same skincare routine, that is, apply a niacinamide treatment followed by a vitamin C one, or vice versa.

Indeed, there is no specific order to follow when applying these two active ingredients to the skin. However, the way you layer niacinamide and vitamin C largely depends on the texture of the products. You should first apply the treatments with the most fluid and light texture, then move towards products with a thicker consistency as you layer. One key point is that the sunscreen should always be the last layer of care in the morning.

However, before you start incorporating new products into your daily routine and layering treatments, there are certain aspects that need to be kept in mind.

  • Start with one new product at a time and wait at least a week before wanting to add another product.

  • Begin with an application once a day or every other day, depending on your skin type, to give the skin more time to adapt.

  • When considering incorporating a new product, always conduct a skin test first by trying it in a small amount for at least 24 hours on a small area of the body (behind the ear, along the jawline, in the crook of the elbow, or on the inside of the wrist).

  • Always make sure to thoroughly understand the manufacturer's instructions on how to best store and safely use the products.

Even with niacinamide and vitamin C, which are known for their skin benefits, it is still possible that skincare products may not suit your skin.

Sources

  • BYUN K. & al. A mixture of topical forms of polydeoxyribonucleotide, vitamin C, and niacinamide attenuated skin pigmentation and increased skin elasticity by modulating nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 2. Molecules (2022).

  • BYUN K. & al. The combination of niacinamide, vitamin C, and PDRN mitigates melanogenesis by modulating nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase. Molecules (2022).

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