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There is an abundance of skin care products and formulations on the market today. With many of them being available over the counter, it can be confusing to know which products can be used together and whether they have any side effects.
Niacinamide and retinoic acid are two popular skin care ingredients found in a variety of products.
Can You Mix Niacinamide and Retinol?
Yes, they can be used together and are in fact a powerful combination that can help treat acne, acne scars, skin discoloration, and other skin problems. (1)
Retinoic acid is a potent skin care ingredient that helps hydrate the skin and increases collagen production. It also helps promote skin repair and flushes out dead skin cells from the surface. However, it can cause irritation and redness in some people. (2)
Niacinamide, on the other hand, helps fight inflammation and soothes the skin. Hence, it is useful for people suffering from acne or skin disorders such as dermatitis.
When niacinamide is used with retinoic acid, it helps protect the skin from retinoic acid’s inflammatory side effects. (3)
Scientific Evidence for Using Niacinamide and Retinol Together
Topical niacinamide and retinol are a very beneficial combination for the skin. According to a recent study conducted on patients suffering from chronic acne, the combination of retinol and niacinamide helped cure acne and acne scars sooner than retinol alone. (4)
In another study, a few patients were asked to use a niacinamide-based moisturizer on one half of their face and a regular moisturizer on the other half. After using tretinoin (a form of retinol) for a couple of weeks, the side applied with a niacinamide-based moisturizer tolerated retinoic acid significantly better than the other side. Moreover, there was lesser redness and skin irritation on the niacinamide-treated side.
These results showed that niacinamide acts as a protective barrier from the side effects of retinol on the skin. (5)
What Is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide, or nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3. (6) It has been used topically to cure inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and dermatitis for ages due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Niacinamide is also known to treat skin discoloration and hyperpigmentation. (7)(8)
What Is Retinol?
Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A. Retinoic acid is a simpler, broken-down form of retinol. It can be extremely beneficial for the skin when applied topically and is used in the treatment of acne, acne scars, wrinkles, skin discoloration, and other skin problems. (9)
It helps promote collagen production and stimulates skin repair. Retinoic acid is found in many topical formulations, both prescription and over-the-counter. (10)(11)
How to Use Niacinamide and Retinol Together?
Retinol and niacinamide can help improve the overall texture and look of your skin – but only when used right.
Follow these steps to make the most of both ingredients:
- Cleanse your skin using a gentle cleanser.
- Apply the topical niacinamide to the skin and let it be absorbed for a few minutes.
- Apply the retinol at least 5–10 minutes after applying niacinamide.
- Use a gentle moisturizer to finish your skin care routine.
- Always make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen when using retinol as all retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
What Are the Side Effects of Using Niacinamide and Retinol Together?
Although both niacinamide and retinol are generally safe to use, some people may experience certain side effects such as:
- Skin irritation
- Skin dryness
- Itching or tingling sensation
Retinol should not be used in:
- Pregnant or lactating women
- Kids under the age of 15
- People who have diabetes, are undergoing chemotherapy, or have liver disorders (they should consult their doctor before starting retinol)
Note: If you notice any side effects from using niacinamide and/or retinol, please contact your dermatologist or pharmacist immediately to determine the safest course of action.
Can I use retinol and vitamin C together?
No, it is not advisable to combine vitamin C and retinol as both are very strong ingredients and using them together can lead to skin dryness or peeling.
What percentage of retinol should I use?
Retinol can be a powerful ingredient and should always be used starting from a lower concentration such as 0.025% or 0.01%. It is best to consult your dermatologist before starting retinol therapy.
Niacinamide and retinol are perfectly safe to use together and are in fact touted to be a wonderful combination for the skin.
Retinol helps increase the rate of skin repair, induce collagen production, treat acne, and reduce hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide also helps cure acne, moisturize the skin, reduce wrinkles, and protect the skin from the inflammatory and drying effects of retinol.
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