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Niacinamide vs Salicylic Acid: Differences, Benefits & How To Layer Them Together

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Niacinamide, commonly known as nicotinamide, is a type of vitamin B-3 that is essential for good health. Skin, kidney, and brain disorders can all be caused by a B-3 deficiency. B-3 deficiency can be avoided by taking niacinamide.  Topical niacinamide is considered to be especially useful in treating acne and eczema, among several other skin conditions.

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid, derived from willow bark. It belongs to a class of ingredients called salicylates. It’s well-known for treating acne and clearing out clogged skin pores by exfoliating the skin. Mild acne-like blackheads and whiteheads responds best to salicylic acid. It may also aid in the prevention of future breakouts.

Niacinamide is one of two forms of vitamin B3; nicotinic acid is the other. Niacin is another name for vitamin B3. Both nicotinamide and nicotinic acid exhibit vitamin B3 activity, but their chemical structures and effects on your health are different. Vitamin B3 is found in animal-based foods like meat and chicken as niacinamide, and in plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, and green vegetables as nicotinic acid. Niacinamide is fortified with a variety of refined grain products, including cereals. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in most protein meals, can also be used to create vitamin B3.

Salicylic acid is the most widely used Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), and it is oil-soluble, meaning it can enter deeper into the skin, clearing the pores of excess sebum, debris, bacteria, and pollutants. It will also have an effect on the build-up of dead skin cells on top of the skin, causing it to appear dull and lifeless, which can lead to breakouts and dark spots.

When salicylic acid (pH between 3.0 and 4.0) is combined with niacinamide (pH between 5.0 and 7.0), the acid’s pH rises. That means the salicylic acid will be less effective than it was supposed to be. Niacinamide, on the other hand, operates best when the pH is neutral. When niacinamide is combined with acidic chemicals, it can induce flushing and redness. Because the acidic salicylic acid lowers the pH of the niacinamide, a chemical reaction occurs that converts it to niacin.

If you have a busy morning routine, taking niacinamide and salicylic acid at different times of the day is an easy method to incorporate both nutrients. Because non-acidic niacinamide can be applied immediately underneath moisturizing serums, moisturizers, and sunscreens, it’s a good idea to use it first thing in the morning. The best time to utilize salicylic acid is at night. While you sleep, your skin naturally becomes more acidic. Acids, on the other hand, require some time to operate properly and open pores. It’s a good idea to use salicylic acid at night when you have more time between skincare routines.

The combination of niacinamide and salicylic acid is beneficial for treating acne. Congestion causes enlarged pores and breakouts by trapping dead skin cells, oil, and pollutants within the pores. Salicylic acid clears and prevents congestion while also balancing oil production, while niacinamide repairs breakout damage while also strengthening the protective barrier to prevent further damage.

To get both of their benefits without under-powering any one ingredient it’s recommended to use them in separate intervals. That means you can use them both but layering them is not recommended. Use Niacinamide in the daytime and Salicylic Acid at night time or apply Niacinamide first followed by Salicylic acid after thirty minutes.

  • Never use Salicylic Acid first followed by Niacinamide.
  • At least, keep a 30-minute gap between each of their applications, using Niacinamide first followed by Salicylic acid. A day/night separate routine is highly recommended. 
  • Use Niacinamide first (in the morning skincare routine) and Salicylic Acid next (in the night skincare routine).

The combination of niacinamide and salicylic acid can be very effective if used properly as it tackles all four elements that cause acne- oily skin, clogged pores, bacteria, and inflammation, as well as the two main reasons for enlarged pores- increased oil production and decreased collagen and elastin, making it an ideal treatment for both. Niacinamide and salicylic acid also perform well together because of niacinamide’s barrier-strengthening properties.

  • Should oily skin types use Salicylic acid and Niacinamide?

If you have oily, acne-prone skin or enlarged pores, a combination of niacinamide and salicylic acid is a great option because they complement each other. Furthermore, niacinamide helps to alleviate the discomfort that is frequent while using salicylic acid.

  • Which should I apply first, Salicylic acid or Niacinamide?

Use Niacinamide first followed by Salicylic acid keeping a gap of at least 30 minutes between their individual applications. A day/night separate routine is highly recommended. Use Niacinamide first (in the morning skincare routine) and Salicylic Acid next (in the night skincare routine).

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