I Used Niacinamide And Retinol Together & This Happened

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Have you been wanting to use niacinamide and retinol together but don’t know how to go about it? Then luck has caught up with you, because you’re definitely on the right page. 


I’ve been in this situation before, and I know what it feels like to be skincare-confused. All it took me was research — yea, I made an in-depth research regarding the compatibility of niacinamide and retinol together, before plunging ahead to using them. 

So, if you were once like me — trying to find the light and quench your thirst of curiosity on the compatibility of these two bioactive. Then keep reading to learn more. 

What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a type of vitamin B3 and a water-soluble vitamin that helps control excessive oil production, minimize large pores, improve skin barrier function and improve overall skin tone which is very beneficial for all skin type, but mostly for individuals with oily skin. Individuals with oily skin are very much vulnerable to acne breakouts due to excessive oil (sebum) production which can lead to clogged pores, so to regulate oil production you have to incorporate niacinamide into your skincare routine.

What Is Retinol? 

Retinol is a vitamin A derivative and an anti-aging molecule that accelerates skin-renewal, reduces wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots, for a firmer, smoother and more evenly-toned skin. Retinol belongs to the family of retinoids which is an umbrella term for all vitamin A derivative ingredients.

As a collagen boosting machine, when applied on the skin, it stimulates collagen production, which plumps out skin, reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Retinol also encourages cellular turnover and encourages new cells growth which in turn treats acne, unclog the pores (allowing your pores to breath) and improves overall skin texture, with a youthful glow.

For this experimental review, I used The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% and Retinol 1% in Squalane every-other-day for three (3) weeks. 

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%.

Niacinamide and retinol together

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The Ordinary niacinamide serum combines 10% niacinamide with 1% zinc to help minimize excess oil production, purify the pores, thereby getting rid of blemishes and pore congestion which in turn enhance skin barrier function, shrink large pores and improve overall skin texture and complexion. Zinc helps treat skin lesions as it offers anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects. Read full review here

Although many users have complained that the inclusion of zinc in The Ordinary niacinamide formula dry out their skin, (especially those with dry skin type), therefore if you’re concerned that you may experience the same fate, there are other wonderful niacinamide serums you can try out. You can try the one from The Inkey List brand or the one from Good Molecules brand

Also some people’s skin don’t tolerate high concentration of niacinamide, if you feel 10% niacinamide concentration will be too much for your skin, you can cut down to serums with lesser concentration of niacinamide, probably 3-5%. We recommend. InstaNatural Niacinamide 5% Face Serum. It contains 5% niacinamide.

The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane.

Niacinamide and retinol together

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The Ordinary retinol serum combines 1% retinol with squalane — which is a plant derived or hydrogenated oil which is used in its pure form or in cosmetic formulations for moisturizing, hydrating and soothing the skin, while retinol delivers its anti-aging potentials. Read full review here.

Can Niacinamide And Retinol Be Used Together?

The fact is, both ingredients are “power couple“. They are synergistic together and two times more effective when combined together than used individually. And why’s that?

Due to niacinamide’s skin calming and anti-inflammatory potentials, it helps reduces inflammation and improve skin barrier function which makes the skin receptive to retinol by stimulating the skin’s natural production of beneficial fatty acids and ceramides, which reinforces retinol’s ability to improve the look and feel of skin’s surface.

While retinol (and other retinoids) can potentially lead to irritation due to its acidic nature and cell turnover potentials, niacinamide helps calm down these irritations by strengthening the skin barrier therefore making it tolerable to retinoids. 

A 2008 lab study examined the combination of niacinamide and retonic acid (RA), which is what retinol is turned into once it’s in your skin. The study found that niacinamide lessens the irritation and dryness caused by RA.

While in a 2016 study, a retinol cream with niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and resveratrol improved skin tone and signs of aging.

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

Many dermatologists recommend the combined use of niacinamide and retinol (and other retinoids) due to the way niacinamide keeps skin calm (as it enhance and repair skin barrier function) while retinol works its anti-aging-fighting job. 

Therefore in summary, both ingredients are compatible together and even recommended by dermatologists for more efficacy. 

My Honest Experience With Niacinamide And Retinol Together.

Niacinamide and retinol together

I used a 10% niacinamide serum and 1% retinol serum for this practical review every-other-day at night-time only for three (3) weeks — and all I have to say is, — the result is spectacular. I wake up to a glass skin every morning. Skin looking so smooth, supple and glowy. 

Niacinamide has been my baby for a very long time, I can’t do without this very ingredient, it has really helped keep my oily skin in check, smoothens my skin by minimizing enlarged-pores and brightens my skin too, while retinol on the other hand is yet another ingredient I can’t let go of, not in this world, not even in another world. My skin has benefited a lot from this anti-aging and acne-targeting ingredient. Smoothens, tightens and firms my skin, and more especially helps combat acne — I have an oily skin, so acne loves visiting me, lol. But all thanks to retinol for keeping them at bay and prevent possible occurrence. 

I sometimes pair niacinamide with tretinoin too — which is also a vitamin A derivative, but more potent than retinol. And I also experience the same result. Smooth, firm, plump and glowing skin. 

You can see for yourself:

Niacinamide and retinol together
My skin after using niacinamide and retinol together for three (3) weeks

In Conclusion.

The combination of niacinamide and retinoids (be it retinol or tretinoin) is a straight-off route to acquiring a glass-skin. All you have to do is follow the right application method and also ease your way into using these bioactive as higher concentration of both ingredients can trigger irritations especially to sensitive skin. Also don’t forget to perform a patch test of both products prior to commencing application to test for allergies.

I’m a longtime acid user — I’ve been using retinoids (both retinol and tretinoin) for a long time, so my skin has acclimated to high concentration of retinoids. That was why I was able to use a 1% concentration of retinol. If you’re new to retinoids do well to start from a moderate concentration 0.5% and move your way up to 1% if your skin can take it. 

Possible Questions & Answers?

Q: How did you layer niacinamide and retinol together?

A: Remember, in accordance to skincare product application/layering rule, apply from thinnest to thickest. That’s to say, start with skincare products with thinner texture first, while you follow up with skincare products with thicker texture. 

  • Step 3: I apply 3-4 drops of niacinamide serum, while I massage till fully absorbed.
  • Step 4: After applying niacinamide serum and allowing it to absorb fully, then I wait for extra one minute for my skin to dry completely, before I move ahead to applying 3-4 drops of retinol serum, while I massage gently till fully absorbed.

Q: Did you use niacinamide and retinol together everyday?

A: I used niacinamide serum everyday, but used retinol every-other-day, because my skin tolerates retinol well when used every-other-day day. 

So while I use niacinamide serum everyday in my night-time routine, I use retinol every-other-day. Example: I use niacinamide on Monday night (with retinol), use it on Tuesday night (without retinol), use it again on Wednesday night (with retinol), just like that. 

Q: Can people with sensitive skin use niacinamide and retinol together?

A: The interior motive of using niacinamide alongside retinol is to make skin able to tolerate retinol due to niacinamide’s skin calming and barrier strengthening potentials which will go a long way to benefit people with sensitive skin. With that being said, people with sensitive skin can use both actives together, just ensure you ease your way into it by starting out twice weekly with products of low concentration.  

Q: Can niacinamide and retinol be used together everyday?

A: Niacinamide and retinol can be used everyday, however as regards to your skin, it’s best recommended to ease your way into using retinol (and retinoids). Start with a lower concentration and use twice weekly, depending on your skin tolerance, gradually work your way up to a higher concentration (if need be) and increase days of application (if your skin can tolerate it). But applying retinol (or retinoids) every-other-day is best recommended if your skin has acclimated to retinoids. 

Aside from applying retinol every-other-day, to further belittle chances of irritation, also apply the sandwich application method. This is by applying a moisturizer first, before layering retinol on top. Sandwich method does not in anyway reduce retinol’s efficacy, but reduces the intensity at which retinol hits the skin, this will go along way to reduce sustaining inflammatory-irritation associated with retinol use.

Therefore, your routine should go like this:

  • Step 1: Cleanse your skin.
  • Step 2: Apply hyaluronic acid or a hydrating toner.
  • Step 3: Apply niacinamide serum.
  • Step 4: Apply a moisturizer (this acts as an extra layer between the skin and retinol, to further minimize occurrence of inflammatory-irritation).
  • Step 5: Apply retinol serum.
  • Step 6: Apply a moisturizer again.

You can as well use the buffering method by making a mix of 3-4 drops of retinol with two (2) pumps or two (2) scoops of your moisturizer in the palm of your hand prior to application, to reduce retinol’s intensity. Buffering dilutes the retinol and makes it more tolerable to the skin.

Q: Can a high concentration of niacinamide cause irritation?

A: Some people do report irritation, dryness, and redness when using a high concentration of niacinamide (around 10 percent). Switching to a lower potency (around 4 or 5 percent) may be easier on your skin. That’s why we recommend InstaNatural Niacinamide 5% Face Serum. It contains 5% niacinamide.

Q: Can I use a single-product containing both niacinamide and retinol together?

A: Of course you can. Regarding it’s skin-safe to use (or doesn’t contain other harsh ingredients that can irritate the skin). You can try the Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Repair Cream — infused with antioxidants including niacinamide and a low-strength 0.01% retinol concentration. 

Disclaimer: This is a personal experience with The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide and 1% Retinol serum, you may have a whole different experience as skin type differs so as result differs too.

UP NEXT: Want To Know If Niacinamide And Azelaic Acid Are Synergistic? Click Here To Find Out

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