Can You Use Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together?

Lactic acid and niacinamide are two of the most popular skincare ingredients right now. Since they both have tremendous skin benefits, it’s no wonder these two are the current skincare favorites and go-to ingredients. But can you use lactic acid and niacinamide together in your skincare routine?

If you’re not sure about whether it’s safe to combine these two in the same skincare routine, trust me, you’re not the only one. When I first heard about them, I was honestly impressed with their remarkable properties, but at the same time, a little bit skeptical about using them together. That’s why I decided to look into it more, and here’s what I found out.

YES, you can definitely use lactic acid and niacinamide together in the same beauty routine. The trick is to learn how to layer them correctly to get the most out of both ingredients. But it’s absolutely safe to use them together.

In this article, I’ll talk to you more about the benefits of using both lactic acid and niacinamide in your routine, as well as show you how to layer them effectively. Let’s dive in!

What is Lactic Acid and How Does it Work?

Lactic acid is one of the most popular alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) used on the skin. It comes from milk or alternative vegan (non-dairy) sources like fermented corn starch. It’s a gentle chemical exfoliant that is commonly used on the skin to remove dead skin cells, brighten dark spots, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Lactic acid; Source: depositphotos.com
Lactic acid; Source: depositphotos.com

Like other members of the AHA family, lactic acid also offers unparalleled benefits to the skin. It is also found in numerous cosmetic formulations, particularly acne and hyperpigmentation products. 

The most important thing to know about applying lactic acid is that it could make you more sensitive to the sun, so you should always apply SPF30 or higher sunscreen to protect your skin from potential sun damage. That’s why it’s often recommended to use lactic acid products at night to avoid sunburn or irritation.

What is Niacinamide and How Does it Work?

Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) and one of the most talked-about active ingredients in the skincare space right now. It’s no wonder because niacinamide offers a tremendous amount of skin benefits, from brightening the skin complexion to promoting an even skin tone.

niacinamide; Source: depositphotos.com
Niacinamide; Source: depositphotos.com

Niacinamide is particularly famous for its brightening properties. Research has shown that it is an effective skin-lightening compound and can significantly decrease hyperpigmentation.

Another notable benefit of niacinamide is its ability to reduce enlarged pores. It helps minimize dark spots while keeping the skin hydrated and firm. Also, niacinamide helps balance sebum production and is suitable for both oily and dry skin.

The Benefits of Mixing Lactic Acid and Niacinamide

Lactic acid and niacinamide are great ingredients, but they could be skincare powerhouses when used together and in the correct order. Both of them address similar skin issues, such as acne scars, dark spots, hyperpigmentation. So if you’re looking for a long-lasting, multi-task solution for your skin, here’s why this combination might be the one for you. 

These are the benefits of combining lactic acid and niacinamide in the same beauty routine:

Smoother skin – Lactic acid gently exfoliates the skin while niacinamide helps reduce enlarged pores, making the skin smoother and softer;

Brighter complexion – While exfoliation is key to a radiant complexion, both of these two ingredients have brightening properties and help make the skin appear more shiny and healthy;

Smaller pores – Combining lactic acid and niacinamide can vastly reduce the appearance of enlarged pores by sweeping away excess oil and dead skin cells from the skin;

Improved skin texture – Overall, both of these actives promote healthier skin and better skin texture by targeting skin irregularities and combatting fine lines.

How to Use Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together?

While you can use lactic acid and niacinamide together in the same skincare routine, it’s important to learn how to layer them properly to reap the benefits of both of these ingredients.

So how do you use lactic acid and niacinamide together? The short answer is that you should apply niacinamide after lactic acid to get the maximum effect. But if you’re a skincare enthusiast, you’re probably going to want to hear the long answer too. 

It all boils down to pH, which refers to the acidity level of substances. Considering that lactic acid and niacinamide contain different pH levels, applying them together may reduce effectiveness

For example, since niacinamide products have a higher range of pH, they are likely to raise the pH of the acid, and the higher the pH, the less effective the products are. So if you want to get the most out of your skincare products, you should allow some time between applying these ingredients. 

Here are your best options to properly use lactic acid and niacinamide together.

  • Apply lactic acid exfoliant first, wait around 30 minutes, then apply the niacinamide serum to let your skin fully absorb these actives;
  • Another option is to use lactic acid in the evening and niacinamide in the morning (remember that lactic acid may make your skin more prone to sun damage, which is why it’s always a good idea to consider applying it at night);
  • Also, consider applying lactic acid and niacinamide on separate days.

Related: Can you use niacinamide with hyaluronic acid?

The Best Products Containing Lactic Acid and Niacinamide 

1. The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum

When talking about good exfoliating products, this serum is on almost every list: The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA. Unlike physical exfoliating serums, this one uses lactic acid to remove dead skin cells, smooth and improve skin tone chemically. It’s one of the most effective products in combatting skin irregularities, all that for an affordable price.

Not only does the 10% lactic acid formulation offer gentle exfoliation, but it’s also enriched with purified Tasmanian pepper berry, which can reduce any signs of inflammation that may appear with the exfoliation. If your skin is too sensitive, there’s an even milder version of this serum with a 5% lactic acid formulation.

This lightweight lactic acid serum can help reduce pigmentation, diminish dark spots, and overall improve skin texture. 

2. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% 30ml

This is one of the most popular skincare products and for a good reason. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a great starting point for products with niacinamide. It’s fairly affordable and can do wonders for your skin, especially for any acne scars and dark spots that you might have.

It contains a 10% concentration of niacinamide which can reduce the appearance of skin blemishes, brighten skin tone and improve pore blocking. Besides niacinamide, this powerful serum also contains PCA zinc, a mineral that can control the oil activity in the skin.

When used regularly, this serum can effectively repair skin redness, improve skin defects, smooth the rough pores, balance oil activity, and provide a bright skin complexion.

3. The Inkey List Lactic Acid 10%

The Inkey List Lactic Acid 10% is another gentle exfoliating serum on my list of top lactic acid products. Affordable and effective, it could be a great addition to anyone’s skincare routine and a solution for uneven skin tone.

With a 10% lactic acid formulation, this serum can remove dead skin cells from the surface while helping brighten dark spots and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Besides lactic acid, the serum contains 1% low molecular hyaluronic acid that can provide deeper hydration beneath the skin surface.

Just like The Ordinary’s gentle serum, The Inkey also offers mild exfoliation and moisturizing properties. In addition, their formulas are very similar, so both serums are equally effective and lightweight.

4. Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Niacinamide Booster is one of the best niacinamide-powered products on the market. Loaded with goodies like vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), panthenol, antioxidants, and skin-replenishing plant ingredients, this powerful serum can transform your skin health.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster has a rich formula that helps fight premature aging, brightens the complexion, and provides much-needed hydration to the skin. Also, it targets uneven skin tone, any signs of blemishes, and dark spots while visibly calming the skin.

The light-as-water texture makes it easy to use with other skin products and it works well with makeup. 

Final Words

It’s no wonder that lactic acid and niacinamide are some of the most sought-after active ingredients in the skincare space. They are great for hyperpigmentation, lines, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and anti-aging. 

They are the dynamic duo that can refresh your skincare routine and give you a brighter complexion. When combining these two, make sure you follow the above steps to achieve the best results. Either apply them at a different point of the day, 30 minutes apart, or on separate days. It’s up to you to figure out your ideal routine.

I hope this article gave you peace of mind that as long as you layer lactic acid and niacinamide properly, it’s perfectly safe to use them together. So now, go on and give your skin some deserved love and care!