Can You Use Niacinamide With Retinol?

Two skincare powerhouses—but are they more like Romeo and Juliet?
BY Sarah Lim
| Last updated Jul, 2022
Can You Use Niacinamide with Retinol

When it comes to mixing different skincare products and ingredients, you have questions. Lots of questions (probably way more than you did in high school). In YOUR quest for youthfully resilient, glowing skin, one of these questions might’ve been: “Can you use niacinamide with retinol?” Lucky for you: you have questions, and we have answers.

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that’s known for having an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Being helpful for specific skin conditions such as acne and rosacea, niacinamide has many uses in skincare and is generally well-tolerated among different skin types.

Retinol is one kind of vitamin A, which is known for improving the appearance of wrinkles and having an overall anti-aging effect on the skin. Both niacinamide and retinol can be found in over-the-counter skincare products.

Although retinol has many BENEFITS for the skin, it can also cause skin irritation when first using it, especially for dry and sensitive skin types.

Since niacinamide can act as an anti-inflammatory to soothe irritated skin, can you use niacinamide with retinol to offset some of the retinol’s initial side effects? The answer is yes!

Benefits of Using Niacinamide And Retinol Together

Benefits of Using Niacinamide And Retinol Together

You’ll be surprised to know that not only can you use niacinamide with retinol, but using these two skincare ingredients together can actually enhance the effects you see from each! So what benefits can you see from combining these two skincare ingredients?

• Improved hyperpigmentation

Niacinamide can also help with hyperpigmentation. And using retinol in combination with niacinamide can help combat hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, wrinkles, and even mild dermatitis.

• Protection against sun damage

Retinol can also make skin more sensitive to sunlight, so you should only use it at night. However, using niacinamide with retinol can provide additional photo-protective effects, which may help reduce any photosensitive side effects you may experience by using retinol.

• More effective acne therapy

Retinoids are also used for acne, and niacinamide is a known skincare ingredient for helping to reduce the skin inflammation often seen with acne. These two ingredients used together can result in enhanced acne therapy!

• Enhanced anti-aging effects

Niacinamide also boosts ceramide production. Ceramides are fat molecules in the skin’s structure and are an essential component of keeping skin looking youthful. Using niacinamide with retinol can help you enhance the rejuvenating and moisturizing properties of retinol by increasing ceramides.

• Better skin barrier protection

Increased ceramide production with niacinamide can boost retinol’s anti-aging effects and help make skin more resistant to irritants so skin can better tolerate retinol.

Now that YOU know you can use these two skincare ingredients together, here’s what you need to know when incorporating them into your skincare routine.

What Products Are Best?

What Products Are Best

Niacinamide can appear in many different skincare products. It can come as a powder you activate with water and apply to the skin. You can also find it in moisturizers, eye creams, serums, masks, and lotions. 

When using both of these together, it may be best to look for concentrated niacinamide treatments without too many added ingredients or use a moisturizer or serum with niacinamide to be able to layer it properly. Some products contain both retinol and niacinamide, so you can undoubtedly use these if you like!

Retinol is commonly found in moisturizers and eye creams but can also be found in serums and facial oils. For example, you can use retinol in a moisturizer to layer over niacinamide. Or you can use it in serum or facial oil over niacinamide.

How to Use Niacinamide With Retinol

How to Use Niacinamide With Retinol

It’s essential to consider the following things when asking if you can use niacinamide with retinol?

1. Proper Layering Techniques

When layering niacinamide with retinol, use niacinamides first. If you’re using ceramides, you can use these with niacinamide before using your retinol product.

In case YOUR skin is extra sensitive, you can also use a moisturizer in between your niacinamide and retinol. Or you can use a moisturizer that has niacinamide before applying your retinol product. Many anti-aging moisturizers also contain ceramides. Therefore, they can have added benefits when using both niacinamide and retinol.

2. Consider Using Niacinamide On Its Own First

You can also treat your skin with niacinamide first for a few weeks before attempting to use a product with retinol. It may help people with reactive or sensitive skin types to tolerate retinol better. Consider using a niacinamide powder, serum, or mask to see the most effects before using retinol.

3. Always Keep Skin Calm

Since retinol can irritate the skin, it’s essential to avoid products or practices that may make the skin even more irritated while adjusting to retinol. These could be harsh cleansers or exfoliants that overly dry the skin and make it more prone to irritation.

It’s best to know what’s your skin type so you can adjust your skincare routine and products accordingly. Thus you’ll be able to keep your skin calm and happy when adjusting to retinol!

4. Start Slow

People with sensitive skin can use retinol just a couple of times of week rather than every other day to get used to it. You can gradually work up to three times a week, then four, then try every day, depending on how your skin is doing.

Just because you’re using niacinamide doesn’t mean you can go crazy on the retinol. You can and should start slowly with the product before working up to daily use. Don’t use niacinamide as an excuse to increase your retinol use suddenly!

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Reevaluate

If you notice in any way that your skin is burning, stinging, flaking, or red, it’s okay to stop using retinol. And start again once your skin returns to normal. If any skin concerns or questions arise in your mind about the skin when introducing a new skincare product, never forget to follow up with your dermatologist.

Grab This FREE Printable Guide on Mixing Retinol

Have YOU ever tried layering these two or using either on its own for your skincare routine? When wondering if you can use niacinamide with retinol, consider that these two ingredients can each work together to help the skin.

And if these two can increase the anti-aging effects, you experience from each. Grab our free printable guide on how to properly mix retinol with your other skincare products to see the most benefits!

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