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Glycolic Acid With Niacinamide: Can You Use Them Together?

by Yu-Jun Park 18 Apr 2024

Hey there, beauty enthusiasts! 

Ready to investigate a thrilling skincare mystery? 

We’re talking about the dynamic duo of glycolic acid and niacinamide! 

So settle in, as we separate the facts from the fiction, all wrapped up in a pretty K-beauty bow.

Can I use glycolic acid and niacinamide together?

Oh, you, with your savvy questions! Can you use glycolic acid and niacinamide together?

Let’s take a look at the skin science.

Glycolic acid is beloved for its exfoliating prowess. An alpha-hydroxy acid, or AHA, it gently sheds dead skin cells, revealing smoother, fresher skin below. 

More than a party trick, this process can help reduce signs of aging and acne. It’s a complexion-rockstar.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, boasting a visit to the dermatologist in a bottle. It tackles redness and hyperpigmentation, shrinks the appearance of pores, and strengthens the skin's barrier function. 

Essentially, it's the best supporting actor in your skincare routine — rivaling K-Beauty all-stars like snail mucin in terms of overall skin health.

But can these two wonder ingredients share the same stage, you ask? Science says, drum roll, please... Yes, indeed!

Glycolic acid and niacinamide actually make a good team. While glycolic acid works on the outer layer, niacinamide works its magic on the skin’s deeper layers, teaming up for an overall amplified effect. They belong together — think of peanut butter and jelly, or Ross and Rachel!

However, wait a moment...

While combining these two doesn't pose any significant harm, it isn't always a harmonious duet. 

Why, you ask? It's all about the pH. The optimal pH for glycolic acid to do its brilliant exfoliation is quite low — around 3.5 to 4. Niacinamide, on the other hand, prefers a slightly more neutral pH range, about 5 to 7, to perform at its best.

So, what’s a skincare aficionado to do? 

Simple! Use them separately but on the same day, preferably one in the morning and one in the evening. 

Or alternatively, you could also look for well-formulated products that have found the perfect balance between the two. These formulas (shout out to our Kojic Acid Cream!) are skillfully blended by skin scientists who know how to get them harmonizing in the same product.

And now for an important point. 

Not all skin types will react the same way to this combination. Those with sensitive or dry skin should be cautious. 

Glycolic acid, though mild, can cause slight irritation while niacinamide at high concentrations can possibly lead to redness. Make use of patch tests and start with lower concentrations if you're new to either ingredient. 

And another thing!

While these ingredients play well together, not every ingredient in your arsenal will. 

Vitamin C and glycolic acid, for instance, might wage a war (albeit a small one) on your skin. Do your research before incorporating new ingredients into your routine. 

In conclusion, can you use glycolic acid and niacinamide at the same time? 

Yes, go forth and glow! Using glycolic acid and niacinamide together is perfectly acceptable. 

Just remember our little chats about pH values, skin types, and being mindful of other ingredients.

What else pairs well with glycolic acid?

Oh dear reader, you're in for a treat today. 

Because not only does glycolic acid play well with many other skincare ingredients, but also, the combinations can provide even more spectacular results. 

It's not so much a high school lunch table clique situation, but more of a glamorous cocktail party where unexpected guests not only get along but create sparks. 

Are you ready? Let's dive in!

Hydrating ingredients, say hello to glycolic acid. 

Our beloved superstar, hyaluronic acid, is one such guest, offering hydration to the max. When paired with our main act, glycolic acid, we're paving the way for the water-binding molecule to penetrate deeper, increasing its effectiveness. It's like entering a VIP section of quality moisturisation, and you're invited.

Don't forget to bring along ceramides! Ceramides work by restoring and strengthening our skin's natural barrier. 

When these fab ingredients mingle with glycolic acid, they help counterbalance any potential irritation the latter might ignite. So, it‘s a bit like having a cool friend who knows just when to bring a calming presence to the party.

Next up is our sacred sunscreen. Sun damage, we're looking at you. 

See, glycolic acid's exfoliating prowess can sensitize your skin to the sun, making sunscreen an even more crucial companion. It's like having an umbrella during those "sun showers", protecting your skin while glycolic acid does its deep-cleaning dance.

You see, dear reader, while glycolic acid might be the life of the skincare party, it's in the company of other stellar ingredients that it truly shines. 

From dive-into-the-deep hydration, to barrier-strengthening power and the sheltering companion of sunscreen, these elements make the glycolic acid experience one for the beauty record books.

We’re talking about a Hollywood rom-com kind of chemistry here. Hyaluronic acid is like the dependable best friend helping glycolic acid shine, while ceramides are the voice of reason, grounding the other ingredients. And sunscreen? That's the unsung hero, protecting against any potential villainous damage.

So, take your ‘plus one’ invitation to the skincare party, experiment wisely, and discover the symbiotic beauty that awaits.

What can you not mix with glycolic acid?

Glycolic acid: chemically, this humble compound is a relative of sugar, but in your world, it’s your trusty sidekick for radiant skin. 

Straight out of your vanity cabinet, glycolic acid is on the case, breaking through grime and dead skin, to reveal the hidden luster beneath. It's the fairy godmother of beauty regimes, but like all fairy tales, there are certain rules it’s bound to.

You wouldn't invite two arch-rivals to the same party, would you? Likewise, certain ingredients are not meant to share the same skincare sequence as glycolic acid. 

So, let's navigate through the regime battleground to understand who doesn’t play nice with this alpha hydroxy acid (AHA).

First on the list is retinol. 

Seems counterintuitive to keep apart two mighty skin warriors, doesn’t it? Retinol, known for its anti-aging prowess, and glycolic acid, the resurfacing maestro, seem like the perfect duo. 

But, it's precisely because they're so powerful that they should be used separately. 

Both retinol and glycolic acid speed up the skin's natural turnover process, which might, in turn, lead to irritation and inflammation when used together. 

It's kind of like running two high-intensity workout programs simultaneously. Your body won't thank you for the additional stress; your skin operates on similar logic.

Next, we have benzoyl peroxide. Often found in breakout-busting formulas, benzoyl peroxide doesn’t gel well with glycolic acid. 

Why? Benzoyl peroxide operates by cutting through excess oil in your skin and glycolic acid by exposing fresh skin layers. 

Combine them and you could end up with skin that's drier than the Sahara Desert. Imagine drinking both coffee and energy drinks – you’d end up super jittery, right? It's the same scenario for your skin.

Moreover, do exercise caution with vitamin C and glycolic acid. Both are excellent skin elixirs but have different pH levels. Glycolic acid is more acidic, while vitamin C works best at a slightly higher pH. 

Mix these two, and the effectiveness of vitamin C might decrease, much like trying to sing while gargling water. It's just not meant to be.

Lastly, tread carefully if you're using any other AHAs with glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is already working hard to proudly resurface your skin. 

Throw in another AHA, and you could be looking at over-exfoliated skin, which could lead to a compromised skin barrier. 

Now, there are exceptions, and indeed, our very own Kojic Acid Cream blends select concentrations of kojic acid and glycolic acid for an extra brightening boost. But it’s best to steer clear of trying to mix them yourself.

In essence, the mantra for mixing glycolic acid with anything is simple - balance. Keep it in separate social circles from retinol, benzoyl peroxide, vitamin C, and other AHAs to avoid overwhelming your skin. 

Remember, all ingredients need time and space to work their magic. So, while glycolic acid is a fantastic companion for your skincare journey, choose its co-stars wisely to keep your skin's harmony intact. 

What should you not mix with niacinamide?

When it comes to the bustling world of skincare, niacinamide is a pretty amicable character. 

Yet, there's one particular ingredient that might cause a bit of a kerfuffle in niacinamide’s otherwise calm social circle - vitamin C in high concentrations. 

Here's the tea on what happens: it's somewhat like a chemical tango, where the niacinamide could potentially convert into niacin. While that may sound alarming, this cheeky dance would mainly result in skin flushing — a temporary and reversible condition.

So, do remember if you're considering a skincare cocktail party featuring both niacinamide and vitamin C, perhaps keep them at opposite ends. 

The unseen game: pH levels in skincare

For a moment, imagine yourself an elite secret agent navigating through the complex world of skincare. 

What's your mission? Keeping up that all-important cover, a.k.a the pH level! 

Like undercover agents though, skincare ingredients too have their optimum 'cover' - the ideal pH level. To attain maximum effect, ingredients need to maintain this pH balance. 

Why? Because your skin naturally desires a slightly acidic environment (around the pH 5.5 mark), and maintaining a stable pH plays a major role in ensuring your skincare ingredients don't turn rogue.

Mastering the game

Knowledge is power, and you now have an arsenal full of it! 

Finesse your skincare strategy, suiting it to your skin's unique needs. In the skin game, remember, the more you learn and experiment, the closer you'll get to cracking the code!

Piecing it all together is like completing a thrilling jigsaw puzzle. It can be tricky, but once you crack your own personal code - you're on your way to glowing, spectacular skin. 

After all, great skincare is an attitude. 

So go ahead, put on your virtual lab coat and gloves, and show that skin who's boss! 

Happy pampering!

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