Can You Use Lactic Acid and Niacinamide Together

Can You Use Lactic Acid And Niacinamide Together? | CleverlyBeauty

Lactic Acid and Niacinamide are two favorites of the skincare industry, and questions often come up on whether they have a place in the same skincare routine.

The short answer is Yes! Using these two products has a host of benefits including improved skin texture, keeping skin hydrated, and promoting a strong skin barrier.

Read more below on how you can use these skincare ingredients correctly to both address skin concerns and avoid skin irritation.

What is Lactic Acid?

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Lactic acid is an excellent chemical exfoliant and AHA (or alpha hydroxy acid), similar in some ways to glycolic acid. It is derived from soured milk and fruit sugars.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are highly effective exfoliants, and also helps trigger the growth of new skin cells. This can improve the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and spotty skin. A recent study has proven that an skincare routine using AHAs as exfoliating acids creates drastic improvements in skin tone, texture, and smoothness.

Benefits of Lactic Acid for Skin

Lactic acid is frequently used in skincare because it is great for providing a mild exfoliation that helps reveal softer, smoother and brighter skin. It works by dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells together. This helps clear away the dead skin cells, unclog pores, and ultimately, reveal brighter, newer skin cells underneath.

Lactic acid is an excellent option for those who suffer from dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin. It a larger molecule size than most other acids, which means that it cannot penetrate quite as deeply into the skin. This means that it is a gentler, milder AHA that does most of its work on the surface of the skin.

Lactic acid is also known for for it’s ability to hydrate the skin, making it even more effective for those with dry or sensitive skin. It is a humectant, meaning that it helps the skin stay hydrated by attracting and retaining water molecules on the skin’s surface.

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Benefits of Adding Lactic Acid to Your SkinCare Routine:

  • Hydrates the Skin
  • Helps Fade Skin Hyperpigmentation
  • Smooths the appearance of rough, dry skin
  • Stimulates collagen production and reduces the sigs of aging

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a Vitamin B3 variant that has a variety of health benefits, including several that are amazingly beneficial for skin.

Niacinamide can be found in a variety of skincare products like lotions, serums and creams. It can also be taken orally in pill form, however it is unclear if its skin benefiting properties are as pronounced when taken orally vs. topically.

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Benefits of Niacinamide for Skin

Niacinamide is often used as an active ingredient in skincare products to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and premature aging. It can also help brighten the skin and even out uneven skin tone.

People with oily skin or acne prone skin also use Niacinamide to help regulate sebum production and clear the pores. Niacinamide serum is gentle and suitable even for sensitive skin types.

Benefits of Adding Niacinamide to Your SkinCare Routine

  • Helps decrease the signs of aging through high antioxidant concentration
  • Anti-Inflammatory properties help to reduce redness and help treat the symptoms of eczema and psoriasis
  • Increases the skin’s production of ceramides which helps lock in hydration and prevent water loss
  • Fades hyperpigmentation from sunspots, acne scars, and other discolorations

Niacinamide often comes in concentrations of up 10%, and we typically suggest that people use a concentration between 2-5%.

Can You Mix Niacinamide and Lactic Acid?

Lactic acid and niacinamide can (and should) be used together for form the basis of an anti-aging skincare routine. In combination, they make a gentle and effective antioxidant serum that can help address a variety of concerns including dull skin, line and wrinkles. While lactic acid works to exfoliate and improve uneven skin texture, niacinamide brightens the skin and treats hyperpigmentation.

How to use Niacinamide and Lactic Acid

The trick is allow time in between the use of each. We recommend one of two approaches:

  1. Use them on alternating days for a total of 4-5 days a week.
  2. Allow time in between using the products on the same day. While we recommend using lactic acid in the morning and niacinamide in the evening, you should be safe as long as you let a half hour pass in between using the products.

Avoid Products that Have Both Lactic Acid and Niacinamide

As we covered, you should avoid using lactic acid and niacinamide together without letting time to pass. Unfortunately, the skincare industry is full of manufacturers who will list multiple ingredients that could have negative interactions.

The reason why they do this is to sell you on having one product that fits everyone’s needs all within one product. lactic acid and niacinamide work best at different pH levels, having both in one product won’t make much sense. While the product will still work, and likely will not cause skin irritation, it will not be as effective as if you’d used the two products separately as described above.

How to Layer Lactic Acid and Niacinamide

While you can use both Niacinamide and lactic acid at the same time, it is best to use them at separate times of the day. They are both active ingredients, and have specific pH levels in which they work best. Lactic acid’s optimal pH level is 3-4, while Niacinamide’s is 5-6.

If layering lactic acid and niacinamide, be sure to use lactic acid first.

Risks of Mixing Lactic Acid and Niacinamide

While lactic acid and niacinamide are both safe ingredients, you should take care when first using them, particularly if you have sensitive skin. We’d recommend starting off with lower concentrations of both of these skincare ingredients. You can gradually work you way up as your skin builds tolerance to avoid any skin irritation or flushing.

What Skin Types Should Use Lactic Acid and Niacinamide


You can and should be taking advantage of both lactic acid and niacinamide. These two ingredients have a host of benefits and certainly belong in the same skincare routine. The trick is to use the two ingredients at different times of the day in order to avoid any loss of effectiveness. be sure not to apply lactic acid immediately after a niacinamide serum.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Lactic Acid Weaker than Glycolic Acid?

While Gycolic acid is generally strong, lactic acid offers many of the same benefits. The key difference is that lactic acid has a larger molecule size, which means that the molecules do not penetrate quite as deeply.

Is Niacinamide the Same as Niacin?

The short answer here is no.

The more complicated answer – Niacin is one of the simplest forms of Vitamin B3, and comes in two forms, nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Niacinamide is one of the forms of niacin containing two coenzymes, NAD and NADP. The body has the ability to convert niacin to niacinamide.

Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid is an essential nutrient that aids in growth and development of the human body. Although the two forms are related, they have different effects. Niacin in high doses will cause the blood vessels to widen. Niacinamide is preferred in skincare treatments because it does not have this flushing effect.

What can you not mix with niacinamide?

There is some evidence to suggest that niacinamide and vitamin C are incompatible ingredients. Since there is some evidence to suggest that there could be some negative interactions between the two vitamins, we would recommend using niacinamide in the morning and Vitamin C in the evening.

Should I leave lactic acid on overnight?

No. Even though lactic acid is one of the gentler alpha hydroxy acid options, you should avoid leaving any lactic acid product on your skin overnight.

We recommend leaving a lactic acid product on your skin for at most 10 minutes. This is more than enough time to allow an ordinary lactic acid serum to deliver its benefits without risking excess chemical exfoliation.

What can you not mix lactic acid with?

You want to avoid mixing Vitamin C and Alpha Hydroxy acids like lactic acid. While both of these ingredients will have antioxidant benefits, in combination they will throw off the pH balance of your skin due to the high levels of acidity.

Instead, you should mix something like Vitamin C and Ferulic Acid.

Which is better niacinamide or lactic acid?

While both are great ingredients, they serve different purposes. Niacinamide is a skin conditioning agent that helps repair and refine the skin’s structure, as well as improve skin barrier function. Lactic acid on the other hand is a chemical exfoliant that clears dead skin cells.

What goes first niacinamide or lactic acid?

You generally want to layer these two products. If using on the same day, apply lactic acid first and wait a half hour before using niacinamide. This gives the lactic acid time to do its job without being affected by the higher pH of the niacinamide.