Can You Use Niacinamide with Retinol?

Can You Use Niacinamide with Retinol?

There’s an abundance of active skin care ingredients out there, but not all of them play well together.

Having a better understanding of which actives you can (and can’t) combine is key to creating the most effective skin care routine for your specific aesthetic goals. 

For example, can you use niacinamide with retinol? Here's everything you need to know.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, or nicotinamide, is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 (niacin). It’s one of eight B vitamins that make up the crucial B complex, each of which plays a different but essential role in the body’s overall health and wellness.

Niacinamide helps to soothe irritation and redness and supports the body’s natural wound healing abilities. When used in skin care, niacinamide has various aesthetic and health benefits. 

These benefits include:

What is retinol?

Retinol is also a topical form of an essential vitamin — vitamin A, to be exact. Like vitamin B, vitamin A helps support various body processes. Vitamin A also comes in other forms, including carotenoids, retinal, retinoic acid and retinoids.

When used topically, the benefits of retinol include:

  • Decreasing the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Brightening and evening out skin tone
  • Reducing visible redness and irritation
  • Exfoliating the skin
  • Minimizing the appearance of dark spots
  • Cleaning out clogged pores

Can you use niacinamide with retinol?

While niacinamide and retinol are individually powerful, they can be even more effective when combined in your skin care routine!

One of the most significant benefits of using niacinamide and retinol together is their ability to ease visible irritation on the skin. Although retinol can do this on its own, it can also lead to increased sensitivity as the skin adjusts — especially when you first add it to your routine. 

Using retinol along with niacinamide (and other moisturizing ingredients) can help minimize the appearance of redness that can sometimes come with retinol use. This can help you experience the benefits of retinol while minimizing the side effects.

Niacinamide can also help support the skin barrier, which is crucial in the early stages of retinol use (often called the “purge” period). Keeping the skin barrier strong is one of the keys to beautiful, healthy-looking skin.

The combination of niacinamide and retinol is also effective at helping to fight off the signs of environmental damage — especially damage caused by free radicals. Not only can these ingredients help minimize the appearance of damage that’s already been done to your skin, but they can also help support the skin’s defenses moving forward. 

How to combine niacinamide and retinol

Have you heard enough about the benefits of using niacinamide and retinol together and are ready to give it a try for yourself? Here’s a brief primer on how you can combine the two ingredients to create an even more effective skin care routine.

The good news is that, unlike pairing other active ingredients, there are no special rules that you need to follow to combine niacinamide and retinol. When it comes to integrating both into your routine, the most important thing is to find products that work for you.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can just add new products into your routine without a bit of forethought. When trying out new skin care products, you must start slowly to see how your skin will respond — especially if you have a more sensitive skin type. Try not to add more than one new product or active ingredient at a time, and when you do add a new product, start with a patch test.

Once you start using your new products, keep an eye out for any signs that your skin may be having difficulty adjusting or tolerating the change. Dryness, flaking, peeling and skin tightness may be signs that you need to reduce the frequency of use or even stop using them for a few days to give your skin a break. 

If you’re trying retinol for the first time, Night Watch is a great place to start. These gentle retinol drops provide all the benefits of retinol without the irritation. 

What ingredients shouldn’t you mix?

Niacinamide and retinol are a power duo, but not every active ingredient combination is as beneficial. Here are a few actives that generally shouldn’t be combined (unless prescribed by a skin care provider):

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinol
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and vitamin C
  • Benzoyl peroxide and vitamin C
  • Benzoyl peroxide and retinol
  • Salicylic acid and retinol

Many of the ingredients on this list are classified as chemical exfoliants, which work to clear away dead skin cells from the pores. Although they’re incredibly effective, the process can irritate the skin at first. Using too many exfoliants in the same routine can cause an increase in sensitivity, redness and even lead to breakouts. 

The bottom line...

Can you use niacinamide with retinol? You can — and these two powerhouse active ingredients make an effective duo! Incorporating both into your skin care routine can be just what you need to get the radiant skin you've always wanted. 

Have more questions about how to add niacinamide and retinol into your routine? Contact one of our skin care providers — we’d love to help!

Peer review

This article was medically reviewed by Chelsie Rogers, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant with 6 years of experience in cosmetic dermatology.

SOURCES:

How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? | PubMed

Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety | PMC

How to test skin care products | AAD

Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare | PMC

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