Azelaic acid and niacinamide are effective skincare ingredients recommended by countless dermatologists. They are known to reduce pore size, redness, swelling, and other signs of acne. However, not all skincare products should be used with one another. If you’re worried about mixing niacinamide and azelaic acid in your routine, you’re in the right place.
You can use azelaic acid and niacinamide together to reduce the size of pores, eliminate redness, and help control oil. Skincare brands sell niacinamide mixed with azelaic acid, so you don’t have to mix them yourself. If you want to use them separately, apply the product with the lightest texture first.
Throughout this post, I’ll show you how to use azelaic acid and niacinamide together, which one may be best for you, and how often you can use them. I’ll also list a few pros and cons of each.
Note: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and buy, I may make a commission at no cost to you. Please see my full disclosure policy for more details.
Benefits of Azelaic Acid
The benefits of azelaic acid include:
- Azelaic acid reduces swelling and skin inflammation. According to NBC News, azelaic acid is one of the best treatments for inflammation because it naturally lowers puffiness. Always use it with sunscreen since it can impact your skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
- It’s a gentle exfoliant. Exfoliants are at the top of most skincare specialists’ lists. They remove bacteria and debris found in the pores and on the top layer of your skin, making it look and feel much brighter. This also will lead to fewer clogged pores and acne breakouts.
- It can reduce skin discoloration and redness. If you want to fade dark spots, azelaic acid can provide proven results. Azelaic acid is a great way to get younger, brighter looking skin. This article in Practical Dermatology discusses how azelaic acid has been proven to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Benefits of Niacinamide
The benefits of niacinamide include:
- Niacinamide naturally reduces the size of your pores. One of the main reasons people add niacinamide to their skincare routine is that they want to shrink the appearance of their pores. Removing excess debris and rejuvenating the skin will help the pores look much smaller.
- It can make your skin look smoother and less puffy. Niacinamide is anti-inflammatory and will make your skin look less puffy and red. It’s soothing to skin and can help calm skin that may be irritated by other products or extreme dryness.
- Niacinamide can prevent excess oil production on your skin. This study showed that niacinamide in a 2% concentration significantly reduced sebum production in facial skin. You can use it in the morning and at night for the best results.
If you’re interested in if you can use niacinamide and hyaluronic acid together, check out my article here.
As you can see, these two ingredients provide incredible benefits. If you only want to use one of them, which one is better? Read on for a detailed comparison.
Which is Better: Niacinamide or Azelaic Acid?
Niacinamide is better for those who want a very gentle ingredient that brightens the skin. On the other hand, azelaic acid is an optimal choice for people who want to fight acne and redness. You can use both azelaic acid and niacinamide together for a clear, even-toned complexion.
|Benefits||Reduces redness, anti-inflammatory, gently exfoliates, fights acne, brightens skin||Fades dark spots, brightens skin, fights acne, reduces inflammation|
|Side effects||Can cause irritation and sun sensitivity||Rare, but can cause irritation at high concentrations|
Neither ingredient is necessarily better than the other. Both of them have pros and cons and I highly recommend you try both.
Niacinamide is less likely to cause irritation than azelaic acid. Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that acts as an antioxidant for the skin. It won’t drastically lower your skin’s PH level, however, it doesn’t exfoliate as azelaic acid does.
Azelaic acid has a low pH (since it’s acidic) that can dip down to 4.0. Niacinamide isn’t usually much lower than 5.0. The acidity of azelaic acid can cause skin to be more sensitive to the sun and may have a slightly higher chance of irritating sensitive skin than niacinamide.
However, we should all be using a sunscreen every day regardless of what skincare ingredients we use, since it is the most important step we can take to protect our skin.
Keep in mind that both of these ingredients come in multiple forms so it’s very easy to find something that works well for you. You can find them in serums, lotions, or creams.
The type of product will impact the order that you apply them. If used separately apply your products from thinnest to thickest consistency. This normally means toners first, then serums, lotions, creams, and finally oils and occlusives last.
How to Use Azelaic Acid With Niacinamide
To use azelaic acid with niacinamide, follow these steps:
- Wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove the surface bacteria and debris from the day. They can collect on your skin, preventing it from absorbing the active ingredients in your skincare. It’s important to start with clean skin before applying either of these ingredients.
- Apply a niacinamide serum to your skin. Wait for a few minutes to let it soak into your skin. It’s very common to find niacinamide in a serum and there are several great options, so I recommend using one adding an azelaic acid lotion or cream on top.
- Add an azelaic acid lotion or cream to your face. Since this has a thicker consistency than a serum, it should be put on after serums.
- Apply sunscreen as the last step in your morning skincare routine. In the evening, you can apply a moisturizer as the last step.
Azelaic acid and niacinamide can both be used once or twice per day. You can also use one in the morning and once at night if that works best for your routine.
Top Niacinamide and Azelaic Acid Products
Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
This was one of my first niacinamide products and I have repurchased it several times. Paula’s Choice is a skincare brand that uses research-backed ingredients and doesn’t add artificial fragrance or dye.
Although niacinamide is the featured ingredient, this serum also contains hyaluronic acid for hydration, a Vitamin C derivative for brightening power, and licorice root extract to calm redness. Paula’s Choice also sells a 20% niacinamide serum, although I haven’t tried it as I’ve seen good results with the 10%.
Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster
This is a very light lotion that glides easily across the skin. In addition to the azelaic acid, it has a small amount of salicylic acid, which helps exfoliate and clear your pores. It also has licorice root to reduce redness. This product works great with the Niacinamide Booster above.
Naturium Azelaic Topical Acid 10%
This fragrance-free formula also includes niacinamide, so you can combine both ingredients in one product. A Vitamin C derivative, Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, will help brighten the skin. Naturium also sells a separate 12% niacinamide serum, which contains zinc to help fight acne.
Final thoughts on using azelaic acid and niacinamide together
These two ingredients can be at the heart of your skincare routine. Acne, large pores, and hyperpigmentation can make you feel less confident about your skin, but niacinamide and azelaic acid can boost your skin’s health and get it back to the condition you’re looking for.
Related Skincare Articles
Can You Use Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid Together?
How To Build a Natural Skincare Routine for Acne