What are Niacinamide and Retinol? Is It Used Together?

Niacinamide and retinol are popular skin care ingredients. Each ingredient on its own helps heal skin blemishes and acne, evens out skin tone and…

Niacinamide and retinol are popular skin care ingredients. Each ingredient on its own can help heal skin blemishes and acne, even out skin tone, and reduce signs of aging.

If you are currently using a product containing one of these ingredients, you may be wondering whether using niacinamide and retinol together would be more effective and whether it is safe to combine them. After all, some ingredients don’t mix well with others.

In this article, we’ll look at both of these ingredients in more detail and examine whether it’s a good idea to combine them as part of your skincare routine.

Is it safe to use niacinamide and retinol together?

Not all skin care ingredients pair well together. Some combinations may cause negative reactions or reduce the benefits of the ingredients.

Fortunately, mixing niacinamide and retinol is safe. In fact, the combination is thought to have numerous benefits.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide or nicotinamide is a water-soluble form of niacin (vitamin B3). It is one of the eight B vitamins you need to stay healthy.

Niacinamide helps repair DNA and control inflammation in your body. It also increases cellular energy, which allows your cells to perform basic chemical activities.

When applied topically, niacinamide has additional benefits. It is often used to help control:

signs of aging
atopic dermatitis
autoimmune blistering disorders
pruritus (itch)
sun damage

These benefits of niacinamide arise from several mechanisms.

According to a 2014 review, niacinamide controls nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), a protein involved in inflammation. This anti-inflammatory effect is beneficial for skin irritation and redness.

A 2017 study found that it also reduces the activity of cells that produce sebum, a waxy, oily substance produced by your body’s sebaceous glands. This can help reduce sebum production and acne breakouts.

According to a 2013 review, niacinamide reduces hyperpigmentation by inhibiting enzymes involved in melanin production. It also helps your skin retain water, which strengthens the skin barrier and keeps it hydrated.

Due to these benefits, niacinamide is used in many skin care products. It is generally well tolerated and considered safe for sensitive skin.

What is retinol?

Retinol is an over-the-counter (OTC) form of retinoid.

Retinoids are derived from vitamin A, an essential nutrient your body needs for immunity, vision, and cellular communication.

Retinol is a well-known ingredient in skin care. It is often used in products to help minimize or improve:

signs of aging

Retinoids, including retinol, work in several ways. According to a 2017 study, retinoids control acne by reducing sebum production.

A 2015 study also found that retinol has the ability to inhibit enzymes that destroy collagen. This may help increase collagen synthesis. This effect strengthens the skin and improves the appearance of wrinkles.

But unlike niacinamide, retinol is associated with side effects. It is known to cause irritation and inflammation and can result in:

burning sensation
dryness and peeling
sensitivity to light

Typically, these side effects improve over time. Additionally, OTC retinol can be a good alternative to prescription retinoids, which can cause even more irritation.

What are the benefits of using them together?

There are several benefits to using niacinamide and retinol together, either in a single product or as part of your skin care routine.

An older 2008 laboratory study examined the combination of niacinamide and retonic acid (RA), which retinol turns into when it enters your skin. The study found that niacinamide reduced irritation and dryness caused by RA.

Additionally, a 2017 study found that a retinol cream containing moisturizing ingredients, including niacinamide, caused less irritation than a formula containing only retinol.

This suggests that you may benefit from retinol with fewer side effects if you use a product containing niacinamide, which can protect your skin barrier.

Studies have also found that formulas containing both niacinamide and retinol may be beneficial for your skin.

In a 2016 study, a retinol cream containing niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and resveratrol improved skin tone and signs of aging.

A 2012 study also found that using retinol, nicotinamide, and 7-dehydrocholesterol together was safe and effective for acne.