Can You Layer With Vitamin C? What You Need to Know

Just because it’s potent and proven doesn’t mean it needs to monopolize your skin.
BY Sarah Lim
| August, 2021
how to layer vitamin c and niacinamide

Many people consider Vitamin C their ultimate BFF—it’s so good, why bother with anything else? But what if you can make your skincare even better and more effective? What about how to layer vitamin c and niacinamide even?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it helps neutralize free radicals that can cause DNA damage in the body—this includes your skin.

Shown to help improve the appearance of sun damage, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles, vitamin C is a must for all types of skin. As a bonus, it also supports healthy collagen production. Which means it has the potential to help prevent new wrinkles in the first place!

But can you layer with vitamin C? Here’s how to layer vitamin c and niacinamide and your other skincare products, so you see maximum benefits!

Ingredients You Can Layer With Vitamin C

Technically, you can layer vitamin C with pretty much all of your skincare ingredients. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Here, we’ll talk about how to layer vitamin C with the ingredients it pairs well with, as well as those that you can layer it with but might not want to, depending on your skin type.

Heck Yes! These ingredients are a-ok to pair with vitamin C.

Niacinamide

Niacinamide

Also popular as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a pro at reducing inflammation and helping improve hyperpigmentation and wrinkles in the skin.

Niacinamide can be paired with vitamin C for extra fighting power against hyperpigmentation. It may just help reduce the sensitivity that sensitive skin types can experience from harsher forms of vitamin C.

Vitamin C and niacinamide can be used together in serums, moisturizers and other products that you can use. You can also use targeted forms of vitamin C and niacinamide in your skincare routine.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic Acid

You can easily pair this superstar moisturizer with vitamin C for powerful anti-aging effects. If you’re using vitamin C as a serum, you can layer your moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid on top of it. Be sure to follow your serum’s instructions—some recommended waiting a minimum amount of time before layering another product.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E

Vitamin E pairs well with vitamin C, so whether you’re using both of these as standalone ingredients or using products containing both of them, feel free to pair them as you wish. It is also an antioxidant and tends to play well with others in skincare!

Ferulic Acid

Ferulic Acid

Also, an antioxidant, ferulic acid, can help neutralize free radicals and can actually help stabilize vitamin C in skincare products. As a bonus, ferulic acid also pairs well with vitamin E and niacinamide in addition to vitamin C. So feel free to invite all these besties to your next skincare party!

Sunscreen

Sunscreen

Yes, you can layer vitamin C with sunscreen! Generally, products that contain vitamin C come in the first few steps of your skincare routine, and sunscreen will be your last.

Maybe Not! If your skin has sensitiveness, you may want to refrain from pairing vitamin C with these ingredients.

Retinol

Retinol

While you can combine retinol with vitamin C, this combo may be too much for people who have sensitive skin types. However, it depends on the concentration of retinol as well as the form of vitamin C you’re using.

YOU may consider going with a less irritating form of vitamin C, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate. Before jumping right to ascorbic acid, the harshest but most effective form of vitamin C.

While both vitamin C and retinol have anti-aging power, both are noted for causing irritation to sensitive skin. You’ll need to see which ingredients you tolerate well when starting with these products!

AHAs/BHAs

AHAs or BHAs

Exfoliating acids: alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) are great chemical exfoliators for shedding old skin cells. But for people with more reactive skin, combining these with vitamin C can be way too harsh. It would be best to use them at separate times a day, such as using a chemical exfoliator at night and your vitamin C product in the morning.

Dos and Don’ts of Layering 

Type 4 Fitzpatrick skin type

Here are the major dos and don’ts you need to know when it comes to how to layer vitamin C!

Do: Use Daily

Vitamin C is best used daily in the morning, thanks to its protective effects against sun damage. However, if you have got sensitive skin and are adjusting to a new vitamin C product, you may want to start the same as you would do with retinol: using a couple of days a week and then, along with the time, move it way up for daily usage.

Don’t: Use Without Knowing Your Skin Type

Different forms of vitamin C are more acidic than others. For example, ascorbic acid is the most effective form of vitamin C in skincare and is pretty harsh on the skin, with a pH of around 2.5. If you know you have sensitive or dry, irritated skin, you may want to start with a more neutral form of vitamin C, such as calcium ascorbate or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.

Do: Go Thinnest to Thickest When Layering

When layering your skincare products, vitamin C is best used at the beginning, as it’s traditionally used in serum and should come after both your cleanser and toner. Remember, products should go on thinnest to thickest as a general rule! If you have another product with vitamin C in it, such as a mask or a moisturizer, use these products according to their normal order in your skincare routine.

Don’t: Use an Oxidized Product 

As a skincare product, vitamin C is relatively unstable, meaning it’s more at risk to oxidize than some other products. Oxidized vitamin C may look brown in appearance and isn’t as effective on your skin—it essentially has gone wrong and is no longer benefiting your skin. Vitamin C products should always be stored in a dark bottle and kept out of sunlight and away from heat and moisture to protect the integrity of the product.

What Step Is Vitamin C in Your Skincare Routine?

If you’ve been wondering how to layer vitamin c and niacinamide, are you using your products in the correct order? Find out by checking our guide on how to layer skincare like a pro! And if you have any vitamin C products you swear by, let us know in the comments below!

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