Can You Mix Niacinamide With Lactic Acid?

You can definitely mix niacinamide with lactic acid, and this combo can target and improve multiple skin concerns, including excess oil production, enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, rough and bumpy texture, and closed comedones.

However, as always, even though these two actives are very gentle and relatively easy to use and tolerate, you still need to be aware that potential side effects may occur.

Therefore, in this article, we will talk about the benefits and risks of using niacinamide and lactic acid together as well as how to properly combine them for best results and no unwanted reactions.

Can You Mix Niacinamide With Lactic Acid - The Skincare Culture

NB: If you’re someone with oily/acne-prone skin, you need my new book “The Ingredients Handbook for Acne-Prone Skin“. Download it here.

How Does Niacinamide Work?

How Does Niacinamide Work - The Skincare Culture

Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is an incredibly efficient anti-inflammatory ingredient found in many skincare products from cleansers, serums, moisturizers, and even sunscreens.

Vitamin B3 is also an essential nutrient for your body, and some reports suggest vitamin B3 deficiency can lead to various disorders of the skin as well as kidneys and brain.

While topically applied niacinamide won’t do anything for your kidneys and brain function, it can still help balance the skin function and prevent inflammatory conditions.

Niacinamide is ideal for treating blemishes caused by inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory properties and can suppress the skin’s inflammatory response to calm redness, sores, and even rashes.

Niacinamide also encourages the production of ceramides which are an important part of a strong skin barrier and are an essential component when it comes to preventing moisture loss and irritation.

Lastly, niacinamide inhibits melanosome transfer from the pigment-producing cells to skin cells, which means it will stop the uneven deposition of pigment on a cellular level and help brighten hyperpigmentation on the skin’s surface.

Some benefits of using niacinamide include:

  • Balanced oil production.
  • Normalized skin function.
  • Less inflammation and irritation on the skin.
  • Hydration and softness.
  • Improved acne breakouts.

RELATED: Can You Mix Niacinamide with Benzoyl Peroxide?

How Does Lactic Acid Work?

Biossance – Squalane + 10% Lactic Acid Resurfacing Serum – The Skincare Culture

Lactic acid is an exfoliating acid that belongs to the family of alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs). 

This ingredient is derived from sour milk or sugar-rich foods, and it’s a water-soluble substance that possesses larger molecules, making it slightly different than other AHAs, such as glycolic acid.

Due to its large molecules, lactic acid won’t penetrate deeper into the skin and will instead work on the surface, which means it will provide lighter exfoliation, making it more suitable for sensitive skins.

Lactic acid is milder than other AHAs, and it can also be used alongside other actives as it is usually very well tolerated by all skin types.

Some benefits of using lactic acid include:

  • Smoother and more uniform complexion.
  • Improved hyperpigmentation.
  • Dissolved closed comedones.
  • Evened out skin tone.
  • Refined texture.

RELATED: Best Serums for Textured Skin.

Benefits of Mixing Niacinamide with Lactic Acid

A research study that subjected 52 volunteers to an anti-aging skincare routine containing alpha-hydroxy acids and vitamins B3 (niacinamide), C, and E saw significant improvement in wrinkles and fine lines with an improved skin texture without adverse effects.

When using them together, niacinamide will be the ingredient that’ll balance out oil production, refine enlarged pores, strengthen the skin barrier.

At the same time, lactic acid will take care of surface irregularities such as closed comedones which happen when there’s sebum trapped underneath the skin, as well as rough and bumpy texture and mild hyperpigmentation.

After a certain time of being consistent with using niacinamide and lactic acid, you should expect to see brightened and evened-out skin tone, smoother texture, decreased hyperpigmentation, and a healthier, more uniform complexion.

RELATED: Best Serums for Hyperpigmentation in Dark Skin.

How to Use Niacinamide with Lactic Acid?

How to Use Niacinamide with Lactic Acid - The Skincare Culture

Both niacinamide and lactic acid can be used in water-based formulations, which include serums and moisturizers. Both ingredients are very compatible to be used together.

However, if you are just starting out and have never used neither active before, the best thing to do is opt for a milder concentration of both.

For example, a 5% niacinamide and 5% lactic acid serum will be a good start before you can gradually work your way up as your skin builds tolerance.

Although both ingredients are safe and relatively well-tolerated by all skin types, you shouldn’t exclude the possibility of irritation that can occur by overusing these actives.

Therefore, alongside using low concentration products, it’s also best to use them in the evenings with a day or two break in between.

As for the order of using them, you should always use exfoliating products right after cleansing on clean skin and leave them to act for anywhere between 2-5 minutes.

Once the exfoliating solution is fully dried, you should then dampen the skin by spraying a little bit of thermal water and apply a small, pea-sized amount of niacinamide on damp (not wet) skin.

You can also use lactic acid after cleansing and follow it up with a moisturizer that contains niacinamide, such as EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer or CeraVe PM Oil-Free Moisturizer.

Or, you can opt for a serum that has both, such as StriVectin’s Lactic Acid Nightly Retexturizing Serum that contains lactic acid as well as their patented NIA-114, an optimized form of Niacin/VitaminB3 clinically proven to strengthen the skin barrier and supercharge the performance of other ingredients.

Risks of Mixing Niacinamide With Lactic Acid

As with any other active ingredient, the risk of potential irritation is present when mixing niacinamide with lactic acid.

Using exfoliators too frequently can definitely lead to over-exfoliated skin, which usually shows signs of irritation by becoming red, itchy, painful, and irritated when applying certain products or even when washing your face with plain water.

Besides that, since AHAs work on the surface of the skin, they lead to an increase in sensitivity to UV rays, which means you should definitely be diligent with your sunscreen application when starting to use alpha-hydroxy acids in your routine.

If you are using AHAs but not applying sunscreen or you sweat a lot during the day, and the sunscreen rubs off, bear in mind that you may start to experience symptoms of a chemical burn, such as red or dark uneven patches on the nose, cheeks, and forehead.

This means that you should use a high protection factor of 30+ and reapply it every two hours or even more frequently if you sweat a lot.

You should also consider alternatives such as setting your sunscreen with powder sunscreen to prevent it from rubbing off. Here is an article with the best powder sunscreens with high SPF suitable for summer.

Lastly, overusing these two actives can also lead to dryness, so if you start noticing unusual dryness and excessive peeling, it’s best to minimize use or use them sparingly.

RELATED: Best Products for Dry and Flaky Skin.

OILY SKIN PRONE TO CONSTANT ACNE-BREAKOUTS?

simone sydel licensed esthetician

I've coached hundreds of clients just like you helping them tame their oily and acne-prone skin.


I've had my battle with acne. I know what it's like when your skin seems to be conspiring against you


The good news is, I can now show how to manage it!


My new book will help you understand your skin better so you can make informed decisions about what products would work best for your specific needs.

Leave a Comment