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Niacinamide vs Vitamin C

Niacinamide vs Vitamin C

Niacinamide and Vitamin C are all the rage at the moment.

But what benefits can you expect from using these actives? And do they work in unison?

Also, what are the top products on the market at the moment containing these ingredients?

That's what we'll be finding out today. Read on to learn more!

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What is Niacinamide?

A form of vitamin B3, Niacin is naturally absorbed through consumption of your everyday diet staples such as cereals, eggs, meat, dairy and many vegetables.

Vitamin B3 is essential to your body’s processing of fats and sugars, so it makes sense that such an ingredient does wonders for your skin!

Niacinamide is one of two major forms of Niacin, and is the active found in many skincare products to help reduce inflammation and skin damage caused by acne.

A proven antioxidant, this ingredient promotes skin cell production. Using it will mean that repair of skin damage from acne and other injuries such as sun damage will be accelerated.

As it goes to work on skin cell production, it improves the function of the epidermis- preventing transepidermal water loss as a result.

It also regulates production of sebum- the oily substance that clogs your pores and leaves your skin feeling congested.

This means the appearance of pores is diminished, your complexion is evened, and your skin is left with a shiny, matte finish. Be-au-ti-ful!

Not only is this ingredient an acne-solving hero, but it is also scientifically proven to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and other signs of aging by improving elasticity.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is naturally found in fruit and vegetables.

I enjoy a daily dose in my morning orange juice. But for application straight to my skin, I reach for products containing L-ascorbic acid.

A natural organic compound, L-ascorbic acid is the active form of Vitamin C. This means it is effective when applied straight to the skin!

As an antioxidant, Vitamin C is proven to counteract environmental stressors such as UV radiation.

By reducing the effect of the oxidizing Tyrosine enzyme, vitamin C treats hyperpigmentation and minimizes the appearance of dark spots caused by acne.

A powerful brightening agent, vitamin C is one of the best ingredients for promoting glowing skin. For those who suffer from under-eye darkness, vitamin C could be the ingredient for you!

While vitamin C is not proven to reduce levels of acne, it contains anti-inflammatory properties which are extremely effective at easing redness and swelling.

Vitamin C is also anti-aging as it hydrates the skin and boosts collagen production, which in turn helps to prevent premature sagging.

Vitamin C serums and other products containing L-ascorbic acid are the most effective way of achieving these effects.

So, what's the difference between the two?

Both of these ingredients are antioxidants, meaning they minimize oxidative damage caused by environmental stressors such as UV radiation.

Both are also anti-aging with their promotion of collagen production, which allows for the minimization of wrinkles and fine lines!

Additionally, as they reduce hyperpigmentation as well as redness, they both promote a clear and even complexion.

However, Niacinamide is a more gentle alternative to Vitamin C (and the more hydrating of the two).

If you suffer from dry skin that is sensitive and easily irritated, you are better off starting out with Niacinamide.

As vitamin C is acidic, it acts as a gentle exfoliant. This is something you would miss out on by only using Niacinamide.

Can they be used together?

Studies have shown that Niacinamide and Vitamin C mixed at a very high temperature can create a chemical reaction that may lead to flushing of the skin.

However, it is extremely unlikely that they would reach these temperatures in everyday use, so there is not much need to worry about this.

The two work well in unison, making for an excellent skin-brightening combo!

How to use them together

Applying your skincare ingredients in the correct sequence is absolutely vital to attaining your desired results.

If you have sensitive skin you may want to try Niacinamide first, before slowly adding vitamin C in small quantities to your skincare routine.

It may be that vitamin C is simply not compatible with your skin. If this is the case, Niacinamide will offer you many of the same benefits.

You may look to alternative ingredients to pair with it that can offer you the exfoliant and brightening effects that Niacinamide lacks.

If you are going to use both ingredients in your routine, it is best that you start by applying vitamin C- that is, if it's in serum form.

A general rule of thumb for layering is that the thinnest product goes first in your routine.

So, if vitamin C is an ingredient in a thicker product such as a moisturizer, you may need to apply this after your Niacinamide (if contained in a thinner product).

Between applications of each product, allow your skin to dry so that the actives are entirely absorbed.

If you do not allow time for products to dry between applications, ingredients can mix and create unwanted chemical reactions. Yikes!

No need to get too worried. While it’s not ideal, this mixing will not create an all-out chemical disaster on your face, by any means.

Niacinamide’s pH level is basic, so it will neutralize the acidic vitamin C- thereby simply minimizing its desired effects.

Our Product Recommendations

Both Vitamin C and Niacinamide are most effective in serum form, rather than in cleansers or creams.

Products with 10 to 30 percent L-ascorbic acid are what you should be looking out for.

If you’re suffering from a dull complexion, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% OR The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 30% in Silicone are both excellent and affordable options.

They also produce the Niacinamide (10%) serum, which is a highly effective product that can be easily worked into skin-care routines alongside other ingredients.

I personally adore The Ordinary, as all of their products are cruelty-free, vegan, and packaged in recyclable materials.

When it comes to other brands, Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster contains 15% pure vitamin C, and is a sure-fire way to boost your brightness!

Though it comes at a higher price (and a lower percentage of pure ingredient than The Ordinary’s range), this is a widely recommended product that has received raving reviews from all trusted beauty gurus.

Finally, the Pal’s Skin Lab 5% Niacinamide Anti-Blemish Serum is another product that Niacinamide fanatics are going wild for. Combined with 1% Hyaluronic Acid and served up in a sleek glass packaging, this one is a real crowd favorite.


[1] Finholt, Per and Takeru Higuchi. ‘Rate Studies on the Hydrolysis of Niacinamide’, in Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences VOLUME 51, ISSUE 7, P655-661, 1962 July 01

[2] Rattanawiwatpong P, Wanitphakdeedecha R, Bumrungpert A, Maiprasert M. ‘Anti-aging and brightening effects of a topical treatment containing vitamin C, vitamin E, and raspberry leaf cell culture extract: A split-face, randomized controlled trial’, J Cosmet Dermatol. 2020 March 19

[3] Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. ‘Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance’, Dermatol Surg. 2005 July 31

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