Layering Vitamin C and Niacinamide (B3): A Skincare Powerhouse Combination

written by: Hayley Wood and Brianna Riggio

professionally reviewed by: Hayley Wood  / ASCP certified licensed esthetician; Dominique Caron / certified herbalist and aromatherapist

In this article:

Skincare enthusiasts often wonder whether or not it's safe to layer certain active ingredients, such as the ever-popular Vitamin C and Niacinamide (AKA Vitamin B3). Will using these actives together double the beneficial results? Or will it cancel out their benefits and risk irritation?

In this article, we will explore the benefits of these two skincare heroes, discuss why sometimes this combination works, and sometimes it doesn’t, identify who can benefit the most from it, and provide tips on how to test your skin's sensitivity. At Apoterra, we offer products that allow you to harness the power of both Vitamin C and Niacinamide, making it possible to enjoy their synergistic effects!

Meet the Experts: Hayley Wood is a licensed esthetician with over 17 years of experience in holistic skincare. Dominique Caron is the founder of Apoterra with over 10 years of skincare formulating experience. 


FAST FACTS TYPE OF INGREDIENTS: Vitamin C and Niacinamide. *Note that not all vitamin C ingredients used in skincare are the same and will have the same response on the skin. More on this later! BENEFITS: The synergistic effect of pH compatible combination of Vitamin C and Niacinamide in skincare offers brightening, plumping, and clarifying effects to the skin.  WHO SHOULD USE IT: All skin types can benefit from this ingredient duo as long as the ingredients are pH compatible but especially those concerned with hyperpigmentation, breakouts, wrinkles, and dullness in the skin are ideal candidates for this duo. Have reactive skin? More on how to navigate this later. HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU USE IT: This combo can be used together or layered daily through pH balanced skincare. DON’T USE WITH: This combination of ingredients is powerful enough to stand on its own. If you would like to add an additional skincare active such as a BHA, AHA, or Retinol - we suggest using those types of ingredients separately for your pm skincare routine and the pH compatible Vitamin C and Niacinamide combo for your am skincare routine.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the most researched and beloved ingredients in skincare. A skincare antioxidant like Vitamin C provides many topical benefits:

  • promoting collagen production for improved elasticity
  • fading the appearance of discoloration
  • calming inflammation for a clearer, brighter complexion

But did you know that there are many forms of Vitamin C used in skincare products, and their benefits and side effects all vary? For the purposes of this article, we will be discussing the ones that Apoterra uses in our products. Starting with…

Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate

At Apoterra, we use Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP) as our chosen form of Vitamin C in the Neroli Clarifying Complexion Mist. SAP is a stable, water-soluble derivative of Vitamin C that doesn't oxidize easily. When applied to the skin, SAP reacts with enzymes and converts into ascorbic acid (vitamin C), providing antioxidant properties. It also offers brightening, wrinkle-smoothing, skin-firming, and clarifying effects. 

Ascorbyl Palmitate

Additionally, our Vitamin C Regenerative Balm contains Ascorbyl Palmitate, a vegan, oil-soluble, and stable version of Vitamin C that is readily absorbed by the skin for deep delivery of its multiple benefits. Similar to the SAP, Ascorbyl Palmitate benefits include helping to fade discoloration and reduce inflammation for a clearer, brighter complexion. 

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

Niacinamide is one of our favorite B vitamins for skin care. Niacinamide is a sought after active skincare ingredient for these reasons: 

  • Acts as an antioxidant
  • Can improve epidermal barrier function
  • Decrease the appearance of redness, blotchiness, and hyperpigmentation in the skin
  • providing skin hydration to smooth fine lines 
  • supporting elasticity for a plump, fresh face
  • improving texture and clarity for an overall glow 

Niacinamide also works wonders in combination with other active ingredients such as pH compatible Vitamin C, SAP. Our Niacinamide is vegan and can be found in products such as the Neroli Clarifying Complexion Mist and Rose Essential Hydration Mist. It is an excellent addition to your skincare routine if you’re looking for any of the above benefits!

LAYERING VITAMIN C AND NIACINAMIDE | Understanding pH Compatibility

You might have been taught not to layer Vitamin C and Niacinamide—and that advice sometimes holds true. As we have mentioned throughout the article so far, it has everything to do with pH compatibility. 

Why pH matters in skincare

Did you know that when our skin is in homeostasis, meaning that it’s in a balanced and healthy state, it has an acidic pH range of 4.5 to 6. Though the exact pH can range depending on the person, our skin needs a slightly acidic pH in order for our acid mantle, an integral part of our skin’s barrier, to protect our skin from losing moisture and combat external stressors. This is why pH balanced skincare has become the gold standard for supporting healthy and happy skin! 

pH of Vitamin C 

While many forms of Vitamin C have a low pH ranging from 2.6-3.2—indicating that they are very acidic—SAP is considered to be only mildly acidic with a pH of 5-6. The acidity of some common forms of Vitamin C can make them incompatible with certain active ingredients like Retinol and Niacinamide, since a highly acidic environment denatures the vitamins and can change their effects. SAP, on the other hand, provides a more stable alternative for layering active skincare ingredients like Vitamin C and Niacinamide. 

pH of Niacinamide

In order for Niacinamide to perform its skin benefiting promises, it needs to be in a formulation that has only a slightly acidic pH, similar to the pH of our skin. As we mentioned above, many forms of Vitamin C are considered to be too acidic to be layered with Niacinamide without impacting its effects. Layering an overly acidic form of Vitamin C with Niacinamide can cause it to become unstable on the skin. This instability can turn the Niacinamide into Niacin, which can cause skin irritation such as flushing and itching sensations.  

Synergistic Magic

Layering Vitamin C and Niacinamide in your skincare routine comes down to providing compatible pH for both ingredients in order to maintain the stability and efficacy of these antioxidant skin powerhouses. If you are looking to take advantage of both Vitamin C and Niacinamide together in your skincare routine, choosing the mildly acidic SAP as your Vitamin C form can help resolve the potential instability issues that occur when Niacinamide comes in contact with stronger acids. 

When SAP Vitamin C and Niacinamide are layered together, they create a powerful duo that offers numerous benefits. This combination harnesses their anti-inflammatory, sebum-regulating, and graceful aging properties—accelerating the healing process of breakouts and leading to smoother and clearer skin. 

The pH compatible SAP and Niacinamide pairing can be found in the Neroli Clarifying Complexion Mist, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to try this antioxidant powerhouse combination. In fact, our Neroli Mist has also recently been reformulated to include an enhanced dose of SAP, providing even more brightening results.

But don’t take our word for it—here is what our community of licensed skin care professionals have to say about their success using Vitamin C and Niacinamide!

“The Neroli mist is what I find myself reaching for most often in the treatment room. The combination of ingredients are thoughtfully curated, and so beneficial for everyone - I particularly love the niacinamide and green tea - great for calming and inflammation. I love that I can layer this form of vitamin C with a vitamin C serum, doubling up my brightening efforts, and the clarifying benefits of the willow bark extract are great for my clients struggling with breakouts. It really does work on all skin!"  —Rita Marroquin Calm Skincare Studio in Austin, Texas


Neroli Clarifying Complexion Mist - certified Kind to Biome for microbiome compatibility

This facial mist will balance, clarify and nourish your skin with nutrient-dense hydration and will be your new favorite “must have”. Formulated for hyperpigmentation, dull, acne-prone and/or congested skin. Suitable for all skin types.

“This product is for everyone, but can be especially beneficial for individuals with oily/acne-prone skin, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, dehydrated oily-prone skin, and congested skin.” Dominique, Founder of Apoterra

Rose Hydration Mist and Vitamin C Balm Essential Hydration Duo

This deeply hydrating duo is designed to lock in moisture, plump the look of skin, and restore radiance. Organic plants and powerful actives like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide support the skin’s barrier, boost hydration, and promote collagen production.

“This combination is ideal for those dealing with dehydrated dry skin. The Vitamin C and Niacinamide can help plump fine lines and wrinkles while the Hyaluronic Acid and cupuaçu butter are great at helping retain hydration in the skin. ”  Hayley, Licensed Esthetician

brightening duo of vitamin c regenerative balm and neroli clarifying complexion mist

This Brightening Vitamin C Duo is formulated to improve skin luminosity, reduce hyperpigmentation, firm, and restore radiance. Natural plants and potent ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide, coQ10 and green tea help minimize hyperpigmentation, boost hydration, and facilitate collagen production.

"The ultimate duo for skin brightening—but also plumping, antioxidants, and for improved skin hydration. This duo takes full advantage of the compatibility of SAP and Niacinamide, and also layers a second compatible form of Vitamin C (Ascorbyl Phosphate) for more impact." —Dominique, Founder of Apoterra

Looking for a full routine? Try our Skin Quiz!

FAQ  What if I have sensitive skin?   As with all new skincare products, we recommend starting slowly and allowing your skin to acclimate to the introduction of any new topical antioxidant. It's important to give your skin time to adjust and observe how it responds .If you have sensitive or reactive skin, it's advisable to introduce one active ingredient at a time and patch test the rest.   Can I use this combo daily?   Yes, the SAP and Niacinamide combination can be used in your daily skincare routine. You can introduce it by starting every other day and gradually build your way to everyday use.   Can I use this combo with retinol?  Absolutely! If you are a candidate for retinol, you’ll likely benefit from the synergistic benefits of SAP and Niacinamide. Read more about skincare actives here.   I have a question in regards to my skin concerns and incorporating this duo?  We offer complimentary consultations with a holistic esthetician that can offer personalized support. See our skin support center here for more information.



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SAP information:

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