Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rupali Goswami (Beauty Expert) on 18th Dec 2020
Can Niacinamide and Glycolic Acid (AHA) work when used together?
It's not easy to follow-up with all the skincare tips you'll find on the internet to cure different skin issues. You can find many skincare products that promise baby-soft skin or claim to cure acne overnight. If you are spending more time on the internet looking at all these cures rather than focusing on the ingredients, you need to turn your attention in the other direction.
If you are somewhat new at this and struggling to make your skincare products work together, you should note this. Not all skincare products work together. They can neutralize the effects of each other or worsen your skin concerns.
In the skincare world, combining products with similar formulas will not always speed up reaching your skin goals but can decrease the effectiveness.
Mixing all the ingredients at once can irritate your skin, and the products won't be able to work properly as they could have if used once at a time. It is also important to apply the products at a specific time interval, giving them a few minutes to get completely absorbed into the skin before slathering your skin with another product. This would give every ingredient a proper time to work and settle into your skin.
Some ingredients should not be used together. One of those pairs includes niacinamide and glycolic acid (AHA). Let's learn what these are, how do they benefit your skin, and how to include both of them in your skincare routine.
What is Niacinamide?
Not to beat around the bush, and if it were to put it simply, niacinamide is a rather technical name for hydration. The lathering and hydrating properties of niacinamide make it an essential nutrient for our skin and body to function properly. Niacinamide is an ingredient naturally produced in the body and has various benefits for both body and the skin.
Niacinamide is known to be a crowd-pleaser and an all-rounder due to its suitability for pretty much every skin type, every skin concern, and benefits are easily obtained. Niacinamide works by providing our cells energy to carry out their functions.
What are the benefits of using Niacinamide?
1. No more dullness:
Our skin tends to get dull now and then. It can happen due to several reasons, such as using the wrong products, aging, gathering dead skin cells, and acne breakouts. Niacinamide can help renew skin cells and help your skin come back to life rather than looking pale and yellow.
2. Antioxidant properties:
You won't even notice, and your skin will be damaged by the end of the day because of various reasons like environmental aggressors, dirt, pollutants, sun, and whatnot. Niacinamide works as a great antioxidant that can help repair the skin's damage by stimulating collagen production.
3. Helpful in reducing signs of aging:
If the signs of aging and fine lines are starting to appear, then you might want to find a solution before it gets worse. As we mentioned in the above point, niacinamide helps boost collagen and elastin, reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
4. Balances oil production:
Excess oil production can cause so many skin problems that can damage your skin, and less oil production can dry out your skin that can also cause several issues in the skin. Niacinamide contains just the right amount of moisture that won't make your skin dripping oily and won't dry it out. It helps balance out the oil production by strengthening the skin's barrier.
5. It helps calms your skin:
Problematic skin can contribute to allergies, acne breakouts, redness, dryness, hyperpigmentation, dullness, and so on. The calm properties of niacinamide can help calm your skin while dealing with all those problematic factors and improve your skin's functioning.
What is Glycolic acid?
Without dropping technical bombs on you, let us tell you that glycolic acid is just the type of ingredient found in fruit sugars like pineapples and papayas that help exfoliate your skin chemically. When our skin cells die, they can get stuck inside our pores, giving rise to various skin problems. Glycolic acid can be helpful in the growth of new cells while making skin firm and healthy.
Glycolic acid is water-soluble and a form of alpha-hydroxy acid used in various skincare products ranging from cleansers, exfoliators, moisturizers, serums, and many other products.
Some amazing benefits that you can experience with the usage of glycolic acid:
1. Penetrates deeper into the skin:
There are no harmful acids, but while some contain a large molecular size, other acids like the glycolic have a smaller molecular size, giving them the ability to penetrate deeper into the skin than other face acids. Deeper penetration ensures that a particular ingredient will reach the skin's inner layers that can heal the skin from within.
2. Clears excess pigment:
Age spots, sun damage, hormonal imbalance, and acne scars can cause our skin to have some pigmentation. It can be caused by various factors and can contribute to an increase in melanin production. Glycolic acid helps clear excess pigment by exfoliating the upper layers of the skin.
3. Prevents water loss:
Our skin can easily lose its moisture due to certain reasons like cold weather, applying such products to dry you out, aging and others. Lack of moisture can lead to skin wrinkling, uneven complexion, and dullness. Glycolic acid prevents water loss and helps seal the skin's moisture, keeping the skin hydrated for a much longer time.
4. Suitable for mainly all skin types:
Glycolic acid works best on almost all skin types, including oily, combination, normal, and mature skin. It is not recommended for dry skin as it is considered a slightly harsh exfoliator that can irritate your dry skin. If your skin can't tolerate acids' strength, then there are chances that glycolic acid might irritate your skin at first.
Problems with combining Niacinamide and Glycolic acid
Both niacinamide and AHAs like glycolic acid can have similar benefits for your skin, including skin texture, acne, signs of aging (fine lines and wrinkles), and pigmentation, but layering both of these ingredients together won't necessarily give you many benefits.
Niacinamide consists of high pH levels, which go around 5-7, whereas acids have low pH levels of about 3-4. I layered together. Niacinamide will increase the pH levels of acids that can turn less effective and cause a problem absorbing into the skin. This combination can also result in flushing and redness.
How to include both Niacinamide and Glycolic acid in your skincare routine?
To avoid skin concerns like redness, flushing, and irritation, you can use both the ingredients differently to get the most out of your products.
Just like every other ingredient in skincare or others, both niacinamide and glycolic acid contain formulas with different pH levels. Each ingredient's absorption process with a different Ph level differs as sometimes it takes only seconds, sometimes a few minutes, and sometimes around 15-30 minutes, depending on a particular ingredient's pH level.
Even though niacinamide and glycolic acid are both natural and have similar benefits, it is not advisable to use them together because of their pH levels. While niacinamide has a much higher pH level than glycolic acid, it won't get completely absorbed into the skin. Repeat after us; the higher the pH level, the more time it will absorb into the skin.
It is said that your skin needs some time between each ingredient that you apply to let it completely absorbed into the skin to make it work efficiently. We can safely say that niacinamide and glycolic acid can work if you choose to use these together but after a gap of at least 30 minutes. Starting with the acid first because of the reason we just mentioned above and then wait for sometime before going in with niacinamide.
That is one way how you can use both of them together. Another would be to apply them at separate times of the day. It is ideal to use acids at night as the exfoliation properties that the glycolic acid offers can make the skin more sensitive to sun damage.
If you plan to use it in the morning, it is imperative to include sun protection in your skincare routine. On the other hand, niacinamide is safe to use in the morning and at night, along with moisturizer, serums, and sunscreen.
If you have ever been in a dilemma about whether or not you can use niacinamide and glycolic acid together, your quest ends here. You can incorporate both of these together in one skincare routine. You can find few acid treatments that contain low doses of niacinamide in them but using a different product will provide you with more beneficial properties.
To avoid any damage to your skin like redness, flushing, or irritation, remember to use them in the right order, the right amount, and keep their pH levels in place. Slathering on both niacinamide and glycolic acid without proper intervals can cause damage rather than this working in your favor.
Every ingredient works differently on various skin types. Identify your skin concerns, experiment with different ingredients, and learn how to use each of those ingredients before incorporating them into your skincare routine. Layering can be tricky but fun when you know exactly what to do and what your skin needs.