Two Swisse Beauty products from the Bright range next to a red towel and a glass of water.

Here Are The Two Ingredients You Need For Bright Skin: Niacinamide And Vitamin C

Written by: Victoria Hanlon
Senior Writer

Not so long ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking vitamin C was all things immune health and niacinamide was simply an unpronounceable word (nya-sin-a-mide for the as-yet uninitiated). Now, these two ingredients are amongst the biggest powerhouses in the beauty world and if you haven’t already got them in your routine, it’s time to start thinking about them. 

Vitamin C for skin 

Vitamin C may not seem like the sexiest of beauty ingredients, but this hardworking nutrient plays a critical role in support the body’s collagen formation[1]. It can't be produced by the body[2], so it’s important to ensure that you have adequate intake of it in your diet to support skin health (with the added wellness bonus of immune health support and dietary iron absorption from this nutritional multitasker). 

Vitamin C skin care comes in the format of either beauty supplements to support collagen formation from within, or vitamin C-enriched topical skincare, where it can be found in different forms like L ascorbic acid or stabilised forms.

What does vitamin C do for skin?

Vitamin C is your friend for an even, bright, and smooth looking complexion. When applied to skin, particularly when layered under sunscreen, vitamin C can provide antioxidant protection to prevent signs of premature ageing[3]. Vitamin C can also moisturise the skin[4] and decrease the visibility of pigmentation, dark spots, and uneven skin tone[5].

Vitamin C for skin benefits  

There are a number of benefits of vitamin C for skin when it’s taken as a supplement, including that it supports collagen formation, provides antioxidant support, and helps reduce free radical damage to body cells[1].

Which foods are rich in vitamin C?[6] 

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamin C, particularly citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), and capsicums. White potatoes are also a lesser-known source, for the carb lovers out there. 

What to look for in vitamin C for skincare

Vitamin C serums have a very light molecular weight and are able to penetrate the skin’s layers to deliver a boost of antioxidants, which helps protect your skin from environmental stressors. They’re suitable for all skin types and can be applied both morning and night. Choose products that come in a dark container, as exposure to air and light can degrade the serum[7].

You may notice some skincare products proudly disclaiming a ‘percentage’ of vitamin C. Choose one that offers more than 8%, but don’t go over 20%, as this can lead to irritation[8]. The sweet spot is around 10%, as most skin types can tolerate this. 

Niacinamide for skin 

Niacinamide, also known via its aliases, nicotinamide (in supplements) or vitamin B3, is a molecule loved for its ability to support skin health.

What does niacinamide do for the skin? 

When used topically, niacinamide can help to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone and brighten the complexion[9]. Niacinamide in skin and beauty products can also brighten the complexion. This multitalented molecule is able to reduce the appearance of dark spots and textures[10].  

Benefits of niacinamide for skin 

The benefit of niacinamide when it’s taken as a supplement is its ability to support skin health. Once in the body, nicotinamide converts to something called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide 

Which foods are rich in niacinamide?

Niacinamide is found in many foods, including some meats, fish, eggs, green vegetables, and cereals[11]

What to look for in niacinamide skin care products 

Given niacinamide is water soluble, it absorbs most effectively into the skin in a serum format. Look for formulations with about 2-5% concentration and apply either once or twice daily. 

Can you use vitamin C and niacinamide together?

Given the skin-boosting benefits of each ingredient, it is possible to use them together to create a powerful duo of skin-loving goodness, or do we have a skincare frenemy situation? 

The answer is joyfully yes, you can use them together, because vitamin C and niacinamide complement each other when combined. If you have sensitive skin, then proceed with caution and choose formulas with lower percentages of concentration to avoid skin irritation. We always recommend to patch test before use.

Do you put vitamin C or niacinamide first? 

Whether you put vitamin C or niacinamide first is a bit of a debate in the beauty world, with some research stating vitamin C should be applied first due to its unstable format, and others stating it just doesn’t matter. 

One thing to be mindful of is the type of products you’re using. As any good skintellectual knows, apply from thinnest to thickest (for example, serum, then moisturiser, then oil). So, if vitamin C is in your serum and niacinamide is in your moisturiser, then apply them in that order, or vice versa. For real lazy-girl skin brightness, consider products that combine the two ingredients together, such as Swisse Skincare Vitamin C 5% Niacinamide 5% Brightening Day Cream.

How long to wait between vitamin C and niacinamide? 

It’s best to wait about 10-15 minutes in between applying vitamin C and niacinamide separately. If that’s too long, consider applying them on separate days, or you could select one each for your AM / PM beauty routines. 


Always read the label and follow the directions for use. Swisse Beauty Collagen + Hyaluronic Acid Booster contains Sodium Hyaluronate, a salt form of Hyaluronic Acid.



  1. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017;9(8):866. Published 2017 Aug 12. doi:10.3390/nu9080866
  2. Abdullah M, Jamil RT, Attia FN. Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) [Updated 2022 Oct 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from:
  3. Miao, F., Su, M.Y., Jiang, S., Luo, L.F., Shi, Y. and Lei, T.C., 2019. Intramelanocytic acidification plays a role in the antimelanogenic and antioxidative properties of vitamin C and its derivatives. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2019.
  4. Maia Campos, P.M., Gonçalves, G.M. and Gaspar, L.R., 2008. In vitro antioxidant activity and in vivo efficacy of topical formulations containing vitamin C and its derivatives studied by non‐invasive methods. Skin research and technology, 14(3), pp.376-380.
  5. Hwang, S.W., Oh, D.J., Lee, D., Kim, J.W. and Park, S.W., 2009. Clinical efficacy of 25% L-ascorbic acid (C'ensil) in the treatment of melasma. Journal of cutaneous medicine and surgery, 13(2), pp.74-81.
  6. Vitamin C. Harvard School of Public Health. Sourced 27 June 2023
  7. Vitamin C and Skin Health. Oregon State University. Sourced 27 June 2023
  8. Telang PS. Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2013;4(2):143-146. doi:10.4103/2229-5178.110593
  9. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, et al. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002;147(1):20-31. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04834.x
  10. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005;31(7 Pt 2):860-865. doi:10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31732
  11. Niacinamide. MedlinePlus. National Library of Medicine. Sourced 27 June 2023

Victoria Hanlon - Senior Writer