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Keeping your skin youthful-looking, healthy, and glowing can feel like a full-time job.  Fortunately, there are many beneficial skin care products and ingredients out there that can help you accomplish your skin goals.  Lactic acid and niacinamide are two of these skin care products that you may be familiar with.  Lactic acid exfoliates the skin and evens skin tone, while niacinamide helps make skin firmer and improves the skin’s barrier.  Can you use lactic acid and niacinamide together to enjoy the combined benefits that they’ll offer?  Let’s take a look at that question and learn more about these skincare essentials in the next few sections.

Benefits of Using Lactic Acid

Before we discuss whether you can use lactic acid with niacinamide, let’s review some of the key benefits associated with using lactic acid.  Lactic acid is an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) exfoliant.  Using it on your skin can help remove dead skin cells and increase the rate of cell rejuvenation and turnover.

The way lactic acid works on the skin offers a variety of benefits to users. 

These include:

  • Evening skin tone, including dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
  • Improving skin’s clarity.
  • Reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing skin’s dermal and epidermal thickness and firmness.
  • Keeping the surface of skin better hydrated.
  • More suitable/less irritating for users with sensitive skin (when compared with glycolic acid).

Benefits of Niacinamide

Niacinamide can do a lot for your skin.  If you haven’t heard of niacinamide before, it is one of the main forms of vitamin B3, also called niacin.  The other form of vitamin B3 is nicotinic acid.

Niacinamide can be very beneficial for the skin, and is highly regarded in the skincare community.  Some of the benefits associated with using niacinamide include:

  • Improving skin elasticity and minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by stimulating the synthesis of collagen.
  • Reduces discoloration, hyperpigmentation, and blotchiness.
  • Strengthens the skin’s barrier.
  • Works to regulate the production of sebum and reduces the appearance of pores.
  • Includes antioxidants to guard against environmental pollutants and stressors.
  • Leaves skin brighter by increasing cell turnover.
  • Works as an anti-inflammatory to calm skin.

Can I use lactic acid with niacinamide?

So, now to our main question:  can I use lactic acid with niacinamide?  The short answer is that yes, you can use both of these skin care ingredients together.

The slightly longer answer is that while you can use them together, they should not be used immediately following one another.  This is because the pH of each product is different.

Think back to high school science, and you’ll likely remember that every substance has a pH somewhere between 0 and 14.  A pH of 7 is neutral, with numbers lower than 7 being acidic, and numbers greater than 7 being basic.  

Lactic acid, as you may guess, is acidic.  Its pH is typically between 3 and 4, depending on the manufacturer and the exact formulation.  

Niacinamide also has a pH below 7, making it acidic as well.  However, the pH is not as low as lactic acid, meaning niacinamide isn’t as acidic.  The pH for niacinamide is generally somewhere between 5 and 7.

Due to this pH difference between the two skin care products, you should wait at least 30 minutes between using lactic acid and applying niacinamide to your skin.  There are other possible ways to combine these ingredients, which we’ll look at in a few moments.

Can I use The Ordinary Lactic Acid and Niacinamide together?  Yes, The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid and Niacinamide products can be used together.  However, as we shared above, you should leave at least 30 minutes between product applications due to the pH differences.

can i use lactic acid with niacinamide

Risks of Using Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together

When used properly, using lactic acid and niacinamide should benefit your skin.  However, as with using any new skincare products, there are still a few potential risks to be aware of.

Lactic acid is an exfoliant.  If you overuse any exfoliants, it can cause irritation.  You may notice that your skin feels itchy or painful or looks red or irritated in places.

AHAs, such as lactic acid, can also make your skin more sensitive to the UV rays from the sun.  Using them without properly protecting your skin with sunscreen can cause burns or sun damage.  Be vigilant about applying sunscreen every morning and reapplying it after two hours when you are out in the sun.

Some individuals who use niacinamide and lactic acid together also experience overly dry skin.  If this happens to you, you may want to reconsider your use of the products or choose ones with a lower concentration of lactic acid or niacinamide.

Other Considerations When Using Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together

If you haven’t tried niacinamide or lactic acid before, you may want to consider finding products with a milder concentration to start with.  Starting with lower concentrations, somewhere around 5%, can help your skin adjust and build up its tolerance.  Using too strong of a concentration to start may irritate your skin.

Even if you plan to eventually use lactic acid and niacinamide as part of your daily skincare routine, consider starting slow and working your way up to daily use.  For the same reasons that you want to start with a lower concentration of lactic acid and niacinamide, waiting a few days before applications at first can help your skin adjust to the products.

As an additional note, remember to always wear sunscreen after applying lactic acid.  This is good advice all the time, but since lactic acid can make your skin even more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays, it is absolutely essential to make sure you are properly protected.

How To Use Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together

If you are wondering how to use The Ordinary Lactic Acid and Niacinamide together, or any other brands of lactic acid and niacinamide, there are a few different options to consider.

First, remember that you must wait a minimum of 30 minutes to apply niacinamide after using lactic acid.  As we shared above, the pH difference between these two skincare products means they should not be applied right after one another for best results.  Otherwise, they may not be fully absorbed by your skin.

Here are three options to think about if you want to add both niacinamide and lactic acid to your skin care routine:

  • Go through your routine using lactic acid as an exfoliant for your face.  Then, wait 30 minutes or more before laying niacinamide on top of the lactic acid.
  • Apply niacinamide to your skin in the morning, and then use lactic acid at night.  While you could reverse this order, it is better to choose lactic acid for the evening, since it can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
  • Use niacinamide for your skin one day, then use lactic acid the following day.  This way, you’ll get the benefits offered by each ingredient, without needing to worry about using them too close to one another.

Best Lactic Acid Products

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HA

If you’re new to using lactic acid, starting with a lower concentration is a good idea.  This 5% concentrate lactic acid serum from The Ordinary works as a mild exfoliant for the skin.  The ingredient list also includes purified Tasmasian pepperberry that works to soothe the skin after the lactic acid removes dead skin cells and other debris.  Adding this to your skincare routine can help even your skin’s texture, reduce dullness, and decrease the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

This serum is free of parabens and gluten.  It is also a vegan-friendly and cruelty-free product.

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

If you’re ready for a serum with a higher concentration of lactic acid, take a look at this 10% lactic acid exfoliating serum from The Ordinary.  Suitable for use with normal, oily, combination, and dry skin types, this serum works to even the texture of your skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and decrease dullness.

In addition to the 10% concentration of lactic acid, The Ordinary also added Tasmasian pepperberry to the ingredient list for the serum.  While exfoliation can irritate skin, the Tasmasian pepperberry works to reduce inflammation and irritation after exfoliation.

can i use the ordinary lactic acid and niacinamide together

Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment

The Sunday Riley Good Genes All-In-One AHA Lactic Acid Treatment is formulated to reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots, minimize the appearance of pores, and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.  The purified lactic acid in the treatment exfoliates the skin’s surface, leaving you with a clear and youthful-looking complexion.

The makers of this treatment added other beneficial ingredients, such as licorice, lemongrass, and prickly pear extract.  The licorice and lemongrass work together to brighten skin and discoloration. And, the prickly pear extract soothes skin and reduces redness.  This lactic acid treatment does not include harmful ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, sulfates, triclocarban, formaldehydes, or oxybenzone.

Best Niacinamide Products

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum

If you are looking for a serum with a relatively high concentration of niacinamide, this 10% niacinamide and 1% zinc serum from The Ordinary should be a top contender on your list.  The serum is suitable for use by individuals with oily, combination, normal, or dry skin. Though, it may be most beneficial for those with oily skin.  The zinc in the formula targets pores and keeps sebum activity under control.  Additionally, this niacinamide serum can also help to reduce blemishes and brighten the skin.

The Ordinary formulated this serum to be vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free.  There are no parabens, phthalates, mineral oil, formaldehydes, oxybenzone, sulfates, or coal tar in the ingredient list.

The INKEY List Niacinamide Oil Control Serum

Keep oil production under control, reduce the appearance of pores, and improve the overall appearance of your face with this Niacinamide Oil Control Serum from The INKEY List.  The 10% concentration of niacinamide works along with a 1% concentration of multi molecular hyaluronic acid. They help reduce redness, keep oil production to a minimum, and leave skin well hydrated for optimal results.  This is a lightweight serum that is specially formulated for use on oily skin.

Listed as a “Clean at Sephora” product, this serum is free of the 50 harmful ingredients highlighted by Sephora.  These include sulfates, parabens, triclosan, formaldehydes, phthalates, coal tar, oxybenzone, and more.  The serum is also cruelty-free.

Paula’s Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment

With a 20% concentration of niacinamide, this clinical treatment from Paula’s choice may be a good option if you’re ready for a strong product to really target your skin.  The serum works to fade dark spots on the skin, even the tone and texture of skin, reduce the appearance of pores, and smooth bumpy skin.

In addition to the high concentration of niacinamide, this treatment also includes other beneficial ingredients, such as vitamin C and meadowsweet extract.  The vitamin C assists the niacinamide in brightening skin and evening its texture, while the meadowsweet extract works to firm skin and prevents pores from looking as if they have caved in.  No parabens, formaldehydes, mineral oil, triclosan, oxybenzone, sulfates, or phthalates are included in this niacinamide treatment.

black bottle skincare

Using Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together: Closing Thoughts

Do you think you are ready to add lactic acid and niacinamide to your skincare routine?  Are you excited to see how these products will work together to improve the tone, texture, and firmness of your skin?  Be sure to come back and tell us about your experiences!

To learn more about taking care of your skin, check out these related posts on our blog: