Can You Use Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide Together?

It’s not unusual to expect more benefits when combining two skincare ingredients with myriads of benefits of their own. At the same time, you can never be too sure, which is why it’s best to do some homework first. This article will talk about using azelaic acid and niacinamide together in your skincare routine. 

Both these ingredients have tremendous benefits of their own, which is why they are so popular in skincare products. But what about layering them together, one on top of the other? Or perhaps using a product that has both niacinamide and azelaic acid?

Before we get into that, let’s put the microscope on each of these two ingredients individually. 

What is Azelaic?

Azelaic acid is a compound (dicarboxylic acid) found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It offers myriads of benefits for skins. In skincare products, it’s usually added in the form of lab-derived stable acid, often in lower concentrations. 

Therefore, it’s not a very potent ingredient, at least in over-the-counter form. 

Benefits of Azelaic Acid

One of the highlighting properties of azelaic acid is that it has antimicrobial properties. That, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, helps it treat skin conditions like acne and rosacea by cleaning the pores. 

Numerous research studies have explored the effects of azelaic acid on acne and rosacea and found it to be effective. For acne, it’s not just useful for treatment but also to prevent future outbreaks. This is why it’s a favorite ingredient for those with acne-prone oily skin

As this acid can also fight hyperpigmentation and lighten skin discoloration, it’s often also used in products made for preventing and reducing acne scarring. 

One 2011 controlled study, published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, studies the use of 15 percent azelaic acid gel for both acne and hyperpigmentation. It found the consistent use of the gel to help combat both problems. The way azelaic acid deals with hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone is by inhibiting an enzyme responsible for melanin synthesis. 

Other than these highly impactful benefits, azelaic acid may also help reduce pores, and therefore, reduce white and blackheads

Moreover, as compared with other acids, azelaic acid has a relatively higher tolerance to UV rays. In other words, it doesn’t necessitate the use of sunscreen, but most dermatologists still recommend wearing it after applying azelaic acid during day time. 

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a vitamin B3 and is a water-soluble form of niacin. Its other name in the skincare world is nicotinamide


Benefits of Niacinamide

Niacinamide packs in so many benefits that it’s become a popular ingredient for people with skin problems as well as those with not so many issues. Whether it’s acne you’re dealing with or taking precautions with those sneaky fine lines, niacinamide is the ingredient that does it all. 

Its benefits are backed by science with many research studies, and the unwavering support of dermatologists. 

The biggest quality of this ingredient is that it’s well-tolerated by every skin type, including combination and sensitive skin. 

Niacinamide improves the skin barrier by increasing the production of natural ceramides, which are lipids essential for the outer layer of your skin. This is one of its preventive benefits, as with a strong barrier, fewer contaminants can get in, and also moisture stays locked in. 

Nicotinamide is also great for treating acne breakouts. One study used just 4 percent niacinamide on people with mild acne and found it to be effective in reducing pustules and alleviating the symptoms. 

This all-rounder ingredient can also brighten skin and improve its complexion. Extensive research has proved the skin lightning effects of niacinamide, which is why it’s also used to treat hyperpigmentation

Can You Mix Niacinamide and Azelaic Acid?

It’s safe and, in some cases, even advisable to use azelaic acid with niacinamide in the same skincare routine. Both azelaic acid and niacinamide have similar benefits, as far as treating acne and hyperpigmentation goes. 


Both these ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to reduce sebum production, which often contributes to acne breakouts. 

So can you use azelaic acid and niacinamide together? You definitely can!

While there isn’t much research on the use of both ingredients together, there are no major reports of side effects either. 

In fact, using azelaic acid with powerful substances like niacinamide may improve its efficacy. Most research on the effects of azelaic acid is done with prescription-strength acid, but that’s not what you’ll find in most products. So the more stable, milder form available generally can be amplified by combining with other ingredients. 

That said, if you are using higher concentrations (prescription-strength) of either of these ingredients, you may want to consult a dermatologist first to avoid side effects.

Most of the benefits of azelaic acid and niacinamide are the same, except that the former also has mild exfoliating properties.

Related: Can you use niacinamide with hyaluronic acid?

How to Use Azelaic Acid with Niacinamide?

So, for the most part, it’s safe to mix azelaic acid and niacinamide together. However, your confusion might still not be over because these ingredients come in different forms and products. 

The best way to use them together without any confusion is to go with a product that has both azelaic acid and niacinamide. On the other hand, if you’re using them separately, the use will mainly come down to the usual order of your skincare routine. 

For instance, if you’re using a cleanser with niacinamide and an azelaic acid serum, the cleanser, of course, goes first. But if the moisturizer has niacinamide, then that goes after the azelaic acid serum. 

Just follow the usual drill: cleanse, tone, serum, moisturizer (and SPF during the day)!

Tips for Using Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide Together

  • If using serums of niacinamide and azelaic acid separately, alternate between them and don’t apply any more than once daily
  • Azelaic acid has exfoliating properties, so it’s best to use it in the evening and niacinamide in the morning
  • After testing each ingredient, first, use them just once a day for a couple of weeks and then proceed to use twice a day
  • If wearing azelaic acid during the day and especially when going out, make sure to wear good SPF to protect skin from UV damage
  • Although azelaic acid is milder than other acids like glycolic acid, it can still have side effects, so it’s best to do a patch test at first before combining it with any other ingredient, to ensure it’s safe for your skin.

Related: Can you use niacinamide with retinol?

Best Azelaic Acid and Niacinamide Products

Here are the top azelaic acid and niacinamide recommendations to add these wonderful ingredients to your skincare regime:

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The BOOST 10% Niacinamide Booster from Paula’s Choice is a favorite in the skincare world owing to its multiple benefits. From hydrating dry skin to reducing age-related fine lines, this booster combines the best vitamins for skin, B3 and B5

You can use this as a serum as it has a high concentration of niacinamide. There are no toxins, parabens, or fragrances in this product. Plus, it’s suitable for virtually all skin types. 

If your goal is bright skin with an even complexion, this product is a viable option that may start showing results in just a few weeks. 

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If you choose Paula’s Choice for niacinamide, you can pair it with this 10% Azelaic Acid Booster. When using concentrates of certain ingredients, it’s safer to use products from the same brand. In fact, the company sells these two together too as azelaic acid + niacinamide duo, so these are beneficial together. 

This particular formulation also features licorice extract and salicylic acid. The latter, like azelaic acid, has a mild exfoliating effect, so it’s best used in the PM. 

You can also add it to a moisturizer, especially when used in the AM. Of course, that means you have to layer it with an SPF too. 

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The Naturium Azelaic Topical Acid 10% also contains niacinamide and vitamin C. So it’s a suitable choice if you want azelaic acid and niacinamide in one product. It’s made from a highly stable form of the acid, so little to no chances of side effects. 

Its high stability and mild concentration also make it suitable for all skin types. With this in your skincare routine, you can target acne-related inflammation, redness, and even skin discoloration. 

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The Ordinary Azelaic Suspension 10% comes in a lightweight cream formula, which some people may prefer over serums. It absorbs into the skin readily and brightens the complexion. The concentration is comparable with that of serums. 

The Ordinary brand makes natural, fragrance-free formulations, so this one is no different. It also contains vitamin E, which is a great moisturizing ingredient. 

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Now that you know how to use azelaic acid and niacinamide together, you can effectively reap the benefits of both. While their main targets are acne, hyperpigmentation, and aging, they can also enhance the skin barrier and gently exfoliate. 

There aren’t that many products with both niacinamide and azelaic acid in them, but for individual use, there are endless choices. As a safe practice, go with a brand you trust and use regularly.

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