Many people struggle with acne, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, dehydrated skin, enlarged pores, etc. It looks like these skin conditions have no practical solution, or it is tough to achieve a hydrated, fresh, radiant, and even skin appearance. The truth is that most people have never got an appointment with a good dermatologist or have never tried using Niacinamide, AHA, and BHA in their everyday skincare routine. These three are famous ingredients that help enhance skin texture, reduce pigmentation, improve dryness and dullness, smooth wrinkles, and fight against acne-inducing factors. Besides common properties, they also have their unique effects. Let's find out what each of them can do when used solo.
Niacinamide is a pro-vitamin B3, also called Nicotinamide, a precursor to NADH and NADPH's coenzymes. To put it simply, it boosts cellular metabolism while energizing cells to implement their functions, for instance, DNA repair and cell turnover. In addition, Niacinamide hydrates the skin, fights free radicals, fades pigmented spots, smooths fine lines, regulates oil production, unclogs pores, fights against acne, and improves skin texture.
Both AHA and BHA (alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids) are organic acids that act as chemical exfoliants while removing dead and dull cells from the top layer of the skin, providing an anti-aging effect and fading spots. Those cells already carry melanin pigment, so their removal makes skin brighter. AHAs are the right choice for a dry appearance, as most of them hydrate and soothe the dermal tissue. Unlike BHAs, AHAs act at the deeper layers, control sebum production, shrink the pores, and expose less sensitivity to the sunlight.
The trick is that all these ingredients' effects depend on their concentration and pH level. For example, Niacinamide has around 5-7, and the acids 3-4 pH, which means that mixing them can neutralize their effects on each other. In addition, Nicotinamide prevents melanin transfer from producing cells (melanocytes) to caring cells (keratinocytes), brightening skin, lessening dark spots, and pigmented areas. So here comes the question, why and how to use acids in a duo with Niacinamide?
Can I use niacinamide with AHA?
When using an AHA as a chemical exfoliant, consider adding Niacinamide to everyday skincare. Alpha-hydroxy acid is expected to irritate, causing redness, stinging, and inflammation, especially at the beginning of the treatment. Niacinamide minimizes these potential side effects by replenishing the skin barrier, revealing less exposure to irritation, controlling red appearance, and increasing water-binding ability. Using AHA and Niacinamide together will double the benefits of brightening, fading pigmentation, and reducing wrinkles. It is possible to find a few acid products containing low doses of Niacinamide, but using two different products will provide more beneficial properties. Take a 30-minute gap between applying Niacinamide and AHA to ensure the first has been wholly absorbed. If it is not possible to wait, apply Niacinamide in the morning and AHA in the evening.
Can I use niacinamide with BHA?
Pairing BHA and Niacinamide together can form a winning duo. This combination is perfect for combating mild and moderate acne, blackheads, and enlarged pores while improving skin conditions. In addition, combining these two ingredients can have a notable positive effect on the skin. Therefore, it is possible to find several products that include Niacinamide and Beta-hydroxy acid in one product with all these benefits.
It's possible to use Niacinamide and BHA apart. First, apply BHA, wait at least 30 minutes, then Niacinamide. That should give it appropriate time so both products can work at their intended pH level. When layering skincare products, always go from lowest to highest pH. Start with cleansing, use an acid, wait 30 minutes, then apply Niacinamide. Follow with moisturizers and sunscreen.
Warning: Concentrated AHAs may cause irritation and even chemical burns, especially glycolic acid with a small molecule, and penetrate deeper skin layers. Chemical peeling is a procedure that does professional aestheticians or dermatologists. DIY approaches with concentrated AHAs can damage your skin. So, in the case of skincare treatments being done in the home conditions, we always recommend doing it with ready-to-use and safer products with a balanced formula where AHA, BHA, and Niacinamide concentrations are already in a perfect ratio.