Niacinamide and retinol are skin care ingredients that can treat acne and an uneven skin tone. While some people use them separately, others combine them to reap the benefits of both.
In this article, we discuss the benefits of niacinamide and retinol for skin health, and we explain how to use them together as part of a regular skin care routine.
In the body, it helps to reduce inflammation, increase cellular energy, and repair DNA damage.
Many skin care products now include niacinamide to deliver some of its benefits directly to the skin. When choosing a skin care product for its niacinamide content, people should not mistake it for products containing niacin, which is a different form of the chemical.
Retinol is not the same as prescription-strength retinoids such as tretinoin. It is less potent than prescription products, although it is stronger than other OTC retinoids, such as retinyl palmate.
Topical (applied to the skin) niacinamide may help with skin concerns such as:
- hyperpigmentation (uneven skin tone)
- sun damage
As a result of these benefits, people can often find niacinamide in serums and creams to treat acne, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone.
There are several studies on niacinamide that support its use for these issues. For example,
Clinical trials using 2% niacinamide report a significant reduction in hyperpigmentation and an increase in skin lightness
Most people tolerate niacinamide well, and it is typically safe for use on sensitive skin. High concentrations, however, may cause skin irritation, so people should not overuse products containing niacinamide.
- sun damage
- wrinkles and fine lines
As retinoids are more potent than niacinamide, they can often cause more side effects. Retinol may trigger inflammation and irritation that causes:
- burning, tingling, or tightness of the skin
- dryness and skin peeling
One serious side effect of retinol and other retinoids is that they may
Therefore, people using retinol should avoid the sun and use sunscreen products when outdoors. Experts often advise only using products that contain retinol at night.
Pregnant women, or those trying to get pregnant, should avoid the use of retinols as they may increase the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.
It is safe to mix niacinamide and retinol. In fact, many serums and formulas combine the two. People may commonly refer to both as cosmeceuticals.
Research on formulas that contain both ingredients suggest that the combination may be
The combination may also provide additional benefits over using retinol alone, because niacinamide may protect against some of the side effects of retinol.
Compared with using a product containing retinol alone, using one that combines both niacinamide and retinol may lead to a reduction in dryness and
It is relatively easy to include both niacinamide and retinol in a skin care routine. As retinol can increase photosensitivity, people should typically apply these products before bed. A person using them during the day should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen afterward.
Several serums containing both ingredients are available in stores or online. Apply the serum before putting on night cream or mix the serum into the cream.
Alternatively, people may choose to apply the ingredients separately. If taking this approach, it may be best to use niacinamide first to provide skin protection before applying retinol. People may also choose to use niacinamide during their day routine and retinol as part of their night routine.
For best results, apply these products to clean, towel-dried skin. Use them every day and expect to wait several weeks before seeing results. Avoid applying more than directed, as this can increase the risk of adverse skin reactions.
Niacinamide and retinol are popular skin care ingredients that can treat acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. While they have similar effects, retinol is more potent. However, it may also cause more significant side effects.
It is possible to use the ingredients alone or in combination. Research indicates that using both together may provide greater benefits and reduce the side effects of using retinol alone.
If people do not see significant changes after several weeks of use, they may wish to discuss their skin concerns with a dermatologist, who may recommend other treatments.