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Myth Busted: Vitamin C and Niacinamide


Myth Busted: Vitamin C and Niacinamide

Original Author: Fira Syafiqah

People have been talking about the great Vitamin C and Niacinamide and still the debate about them being incompatible when combining in one formulation or in one routine becomes such a huge issue.

If they can do such great things as individuals, can they be mixed in one formulation or used in one routine together? Well, the myth needs to be debunked since the research that claims the incompatibility did not provide strong validation about the whole issue. It has been found that we would still reap the benefits from these two powerful brightening ingredients despite the incompatible issue when using both of them in one formulation or in one routine.

Before we go deeper about the issue, let’s talk about each ingredient first, shall we?

What is Vitamin C?

Being known as one of the powerful antioxidant and pH adjuster, Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid in International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) ingredients list have been popularly used by many in a large variety of cosmetic formulations out there, be it in skincare formulation or in supplement form. The active form of Vitamin C is known as L-Ascorbic Acid. Read more about ASCORBIC ACID HERE!

When used under sunscreen, it can help to boost your skin’s UV protection, and of course, from here we know skincare products containing Vitamin C are best used in the morning. However, this compound is highly unstable in the presence of light, air, in an aqueous solution or in high pH solution. This property makes this compound is more prone to oxidation where the original colour of the compound, yellow will turn to brown. At the moment, colour is the best indicator to show oxidation of vitamin C has occurred.

However, the instability issue can be solved by:

  1. Using black packaging to reduce direct exposure to sunlight
  2. Sealing an aqueous solution of Vitamin C tightly in a container to prevent air from reaching the formulation
  3. Waterless formulation
  4. Low pH (acidic) of solution
  5. Combine with glutathione
  6. Use Vitamin C derivatives such as ascorbyl glucoside, magnesium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and calcium ascorbate


Based on existing research, vitamin C works best at the concentration of 5 to 20% but any concentration lower than that does not indicate that the vitamin C role as an antioxidant is totally useless and ineffective. In fact, every ingredient in skincare formulation WORK IN SYNERGY to provide beneficial effects to the skin. A beginner who wants to include any active ingredients including Vitamin C should start with a lower concentration of Vitamin C to give time for your skin to adapt to a new ingredient in your skincare routine.

Who should include Vitamin C in their skincare routine?

  1. Those who have uneven skin tone
  2. Those who want to have brighter skin
  3. Those who have sunburn
  4. Those who have dull skin
  5. Those who want to lighten hyperpigmentation
  6. Those who want to diminish wrinkles and fine lines

Unfortunately, some people may experience purging when using products with Vitamin C as this active ingredient can increase cell turnover and speed up the outbreak of existing acne.

Benefits of Vitamin C For Skin

The reason why Vitamin C is such a crowd-favorite because of the multiple benefits it does on to the skin. It’s known as an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals, environmental aggressors, and helps with repairing damaged skin cells. 

Other effective benefits of Vitamin C include:

Promotes Collagen Production

It helps the continuous production of collagen that keeps the skin firm and plump while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

Fades Brown Spots 

It inhibits melanin production on the skin that causes hyperpigmentation and discolouration on the skin. It stops the formation of dark spots on the skin. It promotes evening of the skin tone while brightening up the skin.

Moving on to the Niacinamide: What Exactly This Compound Does to Your Skin?

Niacinamide, the active form of Vitamin B3 is the multitasking ingredient that does many jobs at one time — repair, hydrate, soothe and brighten your skin’s overall complexion. Amazing isn’t it?

Benefits of Niacinamide for Skin:


Help to diminish fine lines and wrinkles as well as minimise visible pores


Stimulate more ceramide and hyaluronic acid production to boost the skin barrier function


Helps in reducing sebum production in which excess sebum can lead to acne formation


Prevent melanosome transfer to keratinocytes. This help to lighten hyperpigmentation/dark acne scars

From a formulating view, it is also reasonably stable in the formulation at neutral pH, pretty tough, and easy to work with too! Minor and rare side effects when using topical niacinamide is mild burning and redness but this is usually happening because the skin cannot tolerate niacinamide or the overall formulation of the product.

To add, there is NO conclusive evidence indicating niacinamide can cause purging so everyone does not have to worry to go for niacinamide unless your skin cannot accept it. Most studies have shown that niacinamide is effective at 2-5%. An extremely high concentration of niacinamide is unnecessary as you are actually bringing your skin into the harm of irritation. Always start with a low concentration of niacinamide when you are new to this ingredient in your skincare routine because everything is in the dose or concentration.


The Real Issue of The Combination of Niacinamide and Vitamin C

There is nasty rumour concerning about these two ingredients can cancel out each other if used in one formulation or in one routine; which is NOT TRUE! The myth was based on a research publication in 1963 which claimed that when using NON-STABILISED form of niacinamide and vitamin C,

  • combined at a temperature of 90ᵒC (that high!)
  • for a duration of 72 hours (that’s equal to 3 days!!!)

and this parameter brought to the formation of an end-product called niacin or nicotinic acid which is the culprit that causes skin’s flushing! Researchers were also concerned about the final pH since both of them work best at different pH — Vitamin C at low pH while Niacinamide at pH near to 7 (neutral) so the combination might alter the final pH of the formulation. READ THE FULL VERSION OF RESEARCH PAPER HERE. This is not what we should expect as niacinamide also exhibits calming property in which you are most unlikely to see any redness formed on your skin surface.

This is how skin’s flushing look like;

But do you think this effect will happen in normal conditions?

Think again! We usually store our skincare products at room temperature with low exposure to sunlight and the vitamin C and niacinamide form in skincare product is quite stable in the final formulation. Thus, we cannot make an assumption based on old research that uses illogical parameters based on our situation of storing skincare in this era.

Another issue that arose is pertaining to The Ordinary Niacinamide and L-Ascorbic Acid Powder where these two ingredients are in pure form (100% concentration) had resulted in irritated skin. You can make further reading about the issue HERE . Again, a high concentration which is indicated by high percentage is totally unnecessary. Some ingredients do not need to be in high concentration to be effective and mixing a high concentration of active ingredients can increase the chance of getting skin’s irritation. You wouldn’t want that to happen, aren’t you?

Vitamin C and Niacinamide: A Match Made in Heaven!

Producing products with Vitamin C and niacinamide in one formulation is not a problem anymore. Advance Research and Development (R&D) technology is the hero that turns this great combo into a reality.

Layering niacinamide and vitamin C products in the same routine is completely fine but waiting for a few seconds before layering one over the other is much better. If irritation occurs, it is best to use Vitamin C in the morning and niacinamide at night. In fact, these two superpower ingredients complement each other due to their brightening power to the skin.

p/s: Make sure to do PATCH TEST before trying any new product or mixing any new combination on your skin.

Where Can You Get A LowConcentration of Niacinamide and Vitamin C Products?

Repairing and Soothing Facial Serum (RSS) from ZarZou Beauty contains 1.3% Niacinamide, specially formulated for acne-prone skin to treat acne, soothe redness and repair your skin barrier.

SHOP Repairing & Soothing Facial Serum (RSS) HERE!

On the other hand, Brightening and Hydrating Facial Serum (BHS) from ZarZou Beauty is infused with 0.2% Vitamin C to prevent skin’s dullness, fade dark acne scars, and even out your skin tone, revealing a brighter overall complexion.

SHOP Brightening & Hydrating Facial Serum (BHS) HERE!

Applying BHS before RSS will help your skin to reap MAXIMUM benefits! You can rapidly heal your acne without leaving your skin dehydrated and acne scars behind. Repair, soothe, hydrate, and brighten — ALL in ONE ROUTINE.

You wouldn’t want to miss this GREAT COMBO in your skincare routine, don’t you?


All references have been provided directly in the text.

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