You might have heard of Salicylic acid and Niacinamide being two top contenders for fighting acne and getting healthy skin. While Salicylic acid is primarily known for treating skin concerns like acne and blackheads and is anti-inflammatory in nature, Niacinamide possesses anti-aging, skin-brightening, and anti-oxidant properties.
But given the skin's sophistication, it can be overwhelming and confusing when you hear conflicting information about whether it's safe to use Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide in the same routine. Hence, we are here to discuss their usage, risks, and rewards while discovering how to make the most out of these two active ingredients! We will also have a sneak peek if these ingredients can be used together in the same skincare routine.
But first, let's understand what exactly these two ingredients are and how they communicate with your skin.
Salicylic acid is an ingredient found in many over-the-counter treatments for acne. It is a powerful beta hydroxy acid (BHA) used to exfoliate the skin. It can be derived from the botanical willow bark or created synthetically. Its structure allows it to penetrate deeply into the skin's pores. No wonder it is one of the trending ingredients in the aesthetic industry. But, want to know what it can do to your skin?
Well, here is the gist of its qualities:
- Exfoliating agent - It works by exfoliating the skin to open up clogged pores and reducing the accumulation of dead skin cells, dirt, and sebum that can cause breakouts. It works by dissolving the 'glue' that holds together dead skin cells, which it an effective agent to exfoliate the skin.
- Anti-inflammatory properties - Research studies have concluded that it also has anti-inflammatory properties that can help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne. Salicylic acid is also effective in alleviating acne-associated inflammation.
- Effectively helps treat acne - BHAs are considered one of the most potent ingredients to treat acne because they can penetrate deep into the pores, where the build-up of oil and dead skin cells can cause breakouts. It is a powerful exfoliant that can help to break down and prevent the formation of acne. It works by intensely exfoliating the skin, which prevents the pores from becoming clogged with dead skin cells, oil, and bacteria – all of which can lead to acne. Prolonged use can help reduce overall blemishes, improve skin tone and texture, and combat existing acne.
- Helps reduce excess oil production - It can kill bacteria on the skin's surface and reduce excess oil production, which contributes to breakouts. Salicylic acid is also known for its ability to reduce skin inflammation and provide antibacterial benefits to help keep breakouts at bay.
- Helps to combat PIH - As mentioned above it helps reduce inflammation and redness associated with acne. It can even reduce the incidence of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Salicylic acid helps reduce the production of pigment-producing cells, which can lighten PIH marks over time.
- Promotes skin cell turnover -It helps promote skin cell turnover, sloughing off dead skin cells and resurfacing the skin to reveal brighter skin below.
This makes it an ideal skincare product for people with oily skin who are more prone to acne breakouts, enlarged pores, etc.
Niacinamide is a stable, topically applied form of Vitamin B3. It's an essential nutrient for healthy skin that offers many scientifically-backed benefits. It plays a vital role in skin health, helping to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and enlarged pores, evening out skin tone, regulating sebum production, and protecting your skin from environmental damage.
This powerful agent is packed with many skin-friendly properties. Let's have a look at some of them.
- Improves the overall tone and texture of the skin - It creates a barrier around the skin, which helps it lock in moisture and protect against environmental damage, reviving dull and tired skin.
- Helps fight early signs of ageing - Niacinamide is a fantastic anti-aging agent that helps in reducing wrinkles and fine lines. It can help reduce wrinkles, minimize pore size, and even out skin discoloration, making it an excellent choice for those looking to keep that youthful glow.
- Regulates sebum production - Niacinamide regulates sebum production by activating cell fatty acid metabolism. This action helps to strengthen the skin barrier and reduce inflammation, improving skin hydration. It helps fight acne-causing bacteria. It is effective for oily, acne-prone skin as it reduces sebum production without stripping away the essential oils from the skin.
- Boosts collagen - It can also enhance collagen production to help improve the structure of our skin cells. This leads to increased firmness and elasticity, meaning your wrinkles will appear smoother over time and make your complexion look firmer, smoother, and brighter.
- Rich in antioxidant properties - Niacinamide also has antioxidant properties that can help protect the skin from environmental damage and reduce signs of aging.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties - It has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce redness and irritation while revitalizing your skin and promoting a more radiant complexion.
- Helps fight acne - Niacinamide reduces pore blockages, helping prevent bacteria from entering and clogging pores, which can also help with acne. It can help reduce breakouts, giving you clearer skin.
Can you use Salicylic Acid with Niacinamide?
Well, you can.
But, cutting some slack, there is always said proportion and layering in which you can use these tropical products together. Apart from that, there's a natural synergy between these two ingredients. So, using them together can provide an even more significant benefit than just using one or the other.
Why do Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide prove to be the best combinations for your skin?
Salicylic acid and Niacinamide are powerful because they work together to target different aspects of acne.
- Salicylic acid provides deep-cleaning properties that remove dirt and dead skin cells. At the same time, Niacinamide soothes inflammation and reduces oiliness, helping to prevent future breakouts.
- The BHA, salicylic acid, exfoliates and unclogs pores while removing excess oil. Meanwhile, Niacinamide helps repair the skin and helps to reduce the appearance of uneven skin tone and pigmentation, giving a balanced and clear texture to the skin.
- Together, this combination helps to balance out oil production in your skin.
Hence, this combination offers maximum efficiency, leaving glowing and renewed skin. In addition, the combination ensures that all aspects of the problem are addressed, from clearing existing breakouts to reducing oiliness that could lead to more.
How to pair Salicylic Acid with Niacinamide to get the best results?
The two active ingredients are complementary and work wonders if used in the proper proportions.
There are certain favorable conditions and proportions in which you can use this combo.
But, before anything, start using a lower-strength solution of each product, then increase the concentration depending on how your skin reacts.
- Combining water-soluble Niacinamide with oil-soluble Salicylic acid is a great way to get the best of both ingredients. The key is to properly balance oil-soluble products with water-soluble ones, depending on your skin's specific needs. Doing this will result in a more even and youthful complexion. In the end, apply a light moisturizer to seal it all in.
- Be mindful of their pH levels - You can use this combination with the correct formulation by keeping their pH levels balanced to target multiple skin problems without causing irritation or redness. The ideal pH level for Salicylic acid is around 3-4, and the perfect pH level for Niacinamide is between 4-7.
- Apply them in different formulations - It is recommended to apply them separately in various formulations, such as a serum for Salicylic acid and a lotion or cream for Niacinamide. This way, you will ensure their active ingredients perform optimally and help achieve your desired results.
Pro tip: Do a patch test before using these products, especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin. This way, you can identify any potential irritation or allergies so that you can adjust your product formulation, amount, and layering of usage accordingly.
When to use Salicylic Acid with Niacinamide?
You can apply one ingredient in your morning routine, followed by another at night or on alternating days, as part of a regular skincare regimen.
Using Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide together for the best results is all about timing. When combining Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide, it's best to wait 30-45 minutes between applications to ensure the first ingredient has been absorbed and your skin pH has had a chance to return to an almost normal range. This allows both ingredients to work independently of each other, maximizing their efficacy while avoiding potential skin irritation with one product affecting another.
What are the most effective percentages to use?
Start introducing Niacinamide and use it consistently over four weeks before adding Salicylic Acid to your skincare regimen. This helps strengthen your skin, and it is better prepared to handle the exfoliating benefits of salicylic acid. To get the best results, look for products containing both ingredients and use them in a layering regimen once or twice daily.
To ensure the most effective yet safe application of Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide, start with a low concentration of 1-2%. If your skin tolerates this amount but still isn't seeing any improvement, work your way by gradually increasing the amount.
Quick Enlightenment - Increasing concentration can cause irritation and other skin issues. Be sure to increase the concentration level gradually, and always pay attention to how your skin reacts.
Depending on your skin type, the most effective percentages of Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide can vary. For those with oily or acne-prone skin, a more potent percentage of BHA is usually recommended, usually around 1 - 2%.
As for Niacinamide, concentrations of 3 - 5% are considered safe to use; however, if you're looking to treat stubborn acne and dark spots, increasing the range that suits the skin is advised.
Pro tip - BHAs, or salicylic acid, can be a great way to exfoliate your skin and clear pores. However, when used with other exfoliants like glycolic acid or retinol, the risk of over-exfoliation is significantly increased. This can cause irritation and redness in the skin. So make sure you never combine BHAs with other exfoliants or retinol.
When appropriately used according to the skin sensitivity and type, Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide can work wonders for your skin by keeping it soft, smooth, and healthy. With careful management of pH levels and application methods, you can add these two powerful ingredients into your routine with minimal risk. Be sure to chat with a qualified healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns before and after using these actives.