Niacinamide Vs Glycolic Acid: Which Is Better For Exfoliating The Skin?

Niacinamide Vs Glycolic Acid: Which Is Better For Exfoliating The Skin?

We all know Niacinamide and Glycolic acid are two of the most popular ingredients found in skincare products these days. 

However, Niacinamide is a bit more popular than the latter as in every skincare regime, they must be at least two or three products with this ingredient.

Still, both ingredients are well known for their gentle exfoliating properties.

Yes, the effectiveness of each of these ingredients can vary based on the individual's skin type and many other factors.

The level of exfoliating effects you achieve from each of these ingredients depends on your skin type.

Mind you, Niacinamide and Glycolic acid do not work like physical exfoliating or BHA which is why they are usually referred to as " gentle exfoliants".

In this guide, we are going to take a closer look at Niacinamide and Glycolic acid and which is better for exfoliating your skin.

Niacinamide Vs Glycolic Acid: Which Is Better For Exfoliating The Skin?

Before we start comparing the two, you have to keep in mind that whichever ingredient you decide to use for exfoliating your skin does not work like magic. 

Also, the results you get from using either Niacinamide or Glycolic acid as an exfoliant would be quite different from the ones you get from physical (scrub) or BHA exfoliants.

With this, you now know that Niacinamide and Glycolic acid can be used for exfoliating the skin.

Let's get started.


Niacinamide, which is also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin that has plenty of skin benefits.

Some of its prominent benefits include:

  • Skin brightening,
  • Anti-aging,
  • Anti-inflammatory,
  • Reduce overproduction of oil on the skin,
  • Reduce blemishes, and
  • Promotes an even skin tone.

From its benefits, you should understand why Niacinamide is usually referred to as a gentle exfoliant.

It is best for people with sensitive skin if paired with a good moisturizer and sunscreen.

Glycolic Acid: 

Moving on to Glycolic acid, is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA), a popular ingredient used in skincare products for its exfoliating properties.

The process an AHA follows to exfoliate your skin includes: dissolving the bonds between dead skin and the new layer of skin to allow easy removal.

After the dead skin is removed, it reveals smoother, brighter, and more even-toned skin.

Some of the main benefits of Glycolic acid on the skin include:

  • Improving the appearance of the skin for a healthy glow,
  • Reduces hyperpigmentation,
  • Has anti-aging properties,
  • Evens out the skin tone.

So Which Is Better?

From the comparison above, you must have already deciphered that Niacinamide works slower than Glycolic Acid.

This means that if you are looking to get faster and deeper exfoliating results, Glycolic acid is your best bet; as long as you don't have sensitive skin.

Niacinamide, on the other hand, is a gentler exfoliant, and this makes the best choice for those with very sensitive skin.

It is very important to note that Niacinamide and Glycolic acid can also be used together in a skincare regimen, so for better results use both.

However, if your skin is the sensitive type and you want to use the two ingredients together verify with your dermatologist first.


Niacinamide and glycolic acid can each be very effective exfoliants, but the best one for you will depend on your skin type and skin goals.

Comparing the two, Glycolic acid is a much better exfoliant.

Niacinamide is a gentler exfoliant that's ideal for sensitive skin but the results are slow.

However, the purpose of skincare is not just to achieve fast results but lasting ones too.