We’ve been exploring how to layer and mix your skincare ingredients quite a bit recently here on The Beauty Insiders, and today I intend to carry this on. Not only because these questions occur in our inbox a lot, but also figured I could give you all a little more clarity about whether you can mix niacinamide and glycolic acid together.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 and has gained quite a reputation for combating various skin concerns, from acne, pigmentation, signs of ageing and rosacea. The hydrating properties of niacinamide also help lock moisture into the skin resulting in its protective barrier having the ability to function properly. This is a vital part of maintaining your skin’s health because when your skin barrier is fully hydrated it can combat any free radical damage, such as pollution, exposure to the sun’s UV rays and central heating to name a few. You will also find the skin is repaired, rejuvenated and full of bounce. Why not find out a lot more about niacinamide over on our dedicated blog post.
Main skincare benefits of Niacinamide
- Packed with antioxidant properties to repair and protect the skin
- Skin is left hydrated and vibrant
- Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles whilst boosting collagen production
- Helps to calm problematic skin reducing any signs of redness, acne breakouts, dryness and hyperpigmentation
- Can balance oil production reducing the amount of excess sebum produced on the skin
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is a member of the chemical exfoliant family known as Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA) and is derived from the natural source of sugar cane. It is one of the most used acids formulated into a variety of skincare products. It has the ability to slough away dead skin cells that if left on the surface of the skin, can build-up over time and result in a dull complexion and flare-up in breakouts, such as spots and blackheads. By ridding the skin of those impurities, bacteria and debris you are exfoliating the skin revealing, bright new skin cells that not only makes the skin look glowing and healthy, you are also reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as minimising the size of your pores. Glycolic acid can be a little too drying for skin types prone to sensitivity so it is best to consult with a doctor or dermatologist to ensure you avoid any unwanted irritation. You can check out our blog about glycolic acid and why it’s so good for the skin.
Main skincare benefits of Glycolic Acid
- Removes build-up of dead skin cells that can sit on the surface of the skin causing spots and blackheads
- Penetrates into the skin and unclogs the pores of dirt, bacteria and impurities
- Improves the overall look and feel of skin texture and tone
- Helps the skin to remain vibrant and glowing
- Reduces the appearance of pigmentation and dark spots
Can you use niacinamide with glycolic acid?
Yes and no, just like all skincare ingredients, glycolic acid and niacinamide contain formulations that have different pH levels. This can be a problem when using them together in your daily routine as the imbalance can cause the skin to become flushed, red and irritated. This is why it’s important to leave around 15-30 minutes between application of these ingredients to allow enough time for them to absorb into the skin to the best of their abilities. To get the optimal results its best to use glycolic acid first, in the form of an exfoliating toner I find it the most effective, followed by a hydrating serum enriched in niacinamide to combat any dryness that can occur from using the AHA.
Does glycolic acid go before niacinamide?
As I have already mentioned, the easiest way of seeing optimal results is to use glycolic acid before niacinamide. The acid will slough away the layer of dead skin cells and clear the way for niacinamide to absorb rapidly and effectively into the skin. With the antioxidants, humectant and sebum regulating properties of niacinamide you will find it is able to strengthen and repair the protective skin barrier. This will lead to the complexion remaining plumped, hydrated, youthful and full of bounce.
This is based on the idea you are using an exfoliating toner enriched in glycolic acid. There are other product formulations that also contain this clever AHA. The easiest way to remember the best way of application is to start with the thinnest consistency working up to the thickest product. This is because thicker consistencies create physical barriers preventing thinner products to penetrate into the skin, reaching areas they are needed most.
Can I use niacinamide every day?
Yes, niacinamide is great for all skin types to introduce into their daily routines and as it is tolerated so easily you are able to use this humectant twice a day, every day. It is able to deliver impressive results with regular application as it will not only keep the skin’s protective barrier nourished, you will also find it saves your skin during the colder months once the temperatures start to drop and your skin is exposed to cold weather and central heating constantly throughout the day. You’ll also find that using other, more potent ingredients will be easily handled as niacinamide will be able to reduce irritation and allow other ingredients penetrate further into the lower layers of the skin.
Can I use glycolic acid every day?
Yes indeed, using glycolic acid every day is absolutely fine, so long as your skin has built up a tolerance to using chemical exfoliants. If you’re new to using this AHA or you are wanting to use a higher concentrate, its best to start by using it every other day to avoid irritation. The concentration of the formulation also plays a part in whether or not you can use it every day, for example, in toners and face washes or cleansers the percentage of the AHA is lower than in a more potent serum or moisturiser. Word of warning, the exfoliating benefits of glycolic acid does lead to the skin becoming quite photosensitive so always ensure you apply a daily sunscreen with a high factor of 30 or above. Yes, even on the days its cloudy and raining as UVA is still present and this is the sun ray that causing the most ageing damage to the skin! Much like every skincare product I would suggest performing a patch test on your forearm for 24 hours before applying it all over the skin.
What acids can you use with niacinamide?
When mixing and layering your skin ingredients, you are able to use a large variety, such as lactic acid, glycolic acid and salicylic acid, as long as you follow the method I suggested earlier. Its best to do this because not only will you combat any impurities that can result in uneven skin texture, signs of ageing and pigmentation, but you will prevent the skin from becoming irritated rendering all the different benefits of these powerhouse ingredients useless. If you are new to using both acids and niacinamide, once you have been given the green light from your dermatologist, you can separate using both ingredients to different parts of the day during your morning and evening skincare routines.
Do I use niacinamide before or after hyaluronic acid?
Both niacinamide and hyaluronic acid are both water-based and act as humectants, meaning they work as sponges drawing in moisture into the skin and locking it into place. When using them together it is best to apply hyaluronic acid first as it will attract the most water to the skin, following that with niacinamide will help regulate the sebum production and keeping the skin hydrated with your pores becoming significantly less noticeable to the naked eye.
Can I use niacinamide after AHA BHA?
Absolutely, to reap the rewards of all the potent powerhouse ingredients you use in your daily routine I would suggest applying niacinamide after any form of AHA and BHA as this will replenish the skin and prevent any dryness occurring after chemically exfoliating the surface of the skin. Just bear in mind you don’t want to over exfoliate or cleanse the skin as this can kick start the sebum production leading to an imbalance resulting in a flare-up of spots, breakouts and acne.
Now that you are a niacinamide and glycolic acid you can expect to start seeing the fruits of your ingredient layering labour with a glowing, healthy, youthful complexion. Don’t forget to join us over on Instagram and let us know how you’re getting on with your skin journey!