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When it comes to skin care products that help you age gracefully, few ingredients can compete with Niacinamide and Retinol. But while both are skin care superstars in their own right, can you use Niacinamide with Retinol to maximize the benefits of your routine?

Here's a closer look at why you might want to use products with these ingredients and whether you can double down on your skin care goals by using them together.


What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a crucial water-soluble vitamin. You can get this form of Vitamin B3 as an oral supplement, through eating specific foods (think red meat, poultry, fish, brown rice, and legumes), or by applying it topically. This is why so many skin care companies incorporate this gold-star ingredient into their formulations.

Scientists use a form of cosmeceutical analysis called the "Kligman standards." Interestingly enough, Niacinamide is the ingredient that most closely vindicates the benchmarks of permeability, mechanism of action, and clinical results.


Niacinamide Benefits

The leading benefits of Niacinamide include:

Enhance Skin Barrier Function

Niacinamide may improve the function of your skin's lipid layer. This layer helps lock in moisture while preventing environmental pollutants and other potential aggressors from drying and irritating your skin.

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Even and Brighten Skin Tone

Niacinamide helps reduce hyperpigmentation and calm redness and inflammation associated with skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and rosacea. It can also address irritation caused by actives like Glycolic Acid or Retinol—a sneak peek into the benefits of using Niacinamide and Retinol together!


Reduce Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Niacinamide boasts antioxidant properties. It can help protect your skin from damage associated with intrinsic (genetically predetermined) and extrinsic (sun exposure, lifestyle habits) aging, including sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.


Minimize the Appearance of Pores

While no ingredient can reduce the size of your pores, Niacinamide can help soften their appearance by regulating sebum (oil) production, preventing clogged pores.


What Is Retinol?

Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, and it's part of the Retinoid family. Your body doesn't produce it naturally, so, like Niacinamide, you need to get it from other forms to ensure healthy bone growth and a robust immune system. Even with a healthy diet and supplements, your skin is the last organ to reap its benefits, so topical products are the best way to profit from Retinol.

While new, buzzworthy skin care ingredients continue to enter the market, Retinol has a long and substantial history.


Retinol Benefits

Retinol possesses many skin care benefits, including:

Increase Cell Turnover

Retinol stimulates your natural skin-shedding process, which allows fresh, healthy skin cells to come to the surface. Shedding dead skin cells can also improve hyperpigmentation, acne, and skin texture.


Prevent Collagen Loss

Collagen production begins to dip around your mid-20s and continues to decrease at a rate of approximately 1 to 1.5 percent a year. Retinol helps prevent collagen loss by inhibiting collagenase, an enzyme that destroys collagen, resulting in firmer skin and fewer fine lines and wrinkles.


Protect from Oxidative Damage

Retinol has antioxidant properties, meaning it can help negate oxidative damage due to free radicals such as sun exposure, pollution, smoking, diet, and stress.


Benefits of Using Niacinamide and Retinol Together

So, can you use Niacinamide with Retinol? You bet! Here are some of the reasons why these two ingredients make a perfect pair:

They Support Smooth Skin

Dead skin cell accumulation leads to a lackluster complexion, clogged pores, breakouts, and dry, rough skin. Retinol increases skin cell turnover, and Niacinamide boosts skin hydration, which supports new skin cell function. Essentially, this combination means out with old, damaged cells and in with hydrated, healthy ones.


They Have Similar pH Levels

Niacinamide and Retinol have similar optimal pH levels, meaning one ingredient won't outdo the other. This makes them easy to layer into your skin care routine effectively.


They Minimize Irritation

Niacinamide can help soothe any irritation Retinol causes while increasing your skin's tolerance.


They Treat Similar Skin Concerns

These two powerhouse ingredients have similar benefits, so using them together doubles down on treating hyperpigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and acne.


Mixing Niacinamide and Retinol with PCA SKIN

While you can mix Niacinamide and Retinol by using separate products, it can take a little experimentation to ensure you're using formulas with the correct pH levels, that you apply each ingredient at the right time of day, and that you don't introduce too much of these active ingredients too quickly. One way to take the guesswork out of the application process is to try one of PCA SKIN's two-in-one Niacinamide and Retinol products:


Best Practices for Using Niacinamide and Retinol

While you should already be using broad-spectrum sunscreen daily, it's even more important to enforce this rule when using Retinol because it increases sun sensitivity. Use a sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30, and reapply it at least every two hours. This simple step is one of the easiest ways to protect your skin from sun damage.

Finally, if you have sensitive skin, slowly introduce a Niacinamide and Retinol-based product to your routine. Start using it once or twice a week, and moderately increase the frequency as your skin tolerates it. As they're both potent ingredients, incorporate a gentle cleanser and hydrating moisturizer like PCA SKIN HydraLuxe into your routine to support calm, hydrated skin. Remember that your Dermatologist or Esthetician is your partner in healthy skin if you have any questions or concerns on your journey to your best complexion.


Rebecca Taras
A Chicagoland native, Rebecca began her career catering to celebrity clientele as a licensed esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. Her passion for skin care ingredients, formulations, and skin histology led her to create custom in-room skin, bath, and body amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago. The Chicago Fashion Foundation recognized her efforts with the Style Maker, Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category. She later went on to co-found Terminal Getaway airport spas. Rebecca’s experience also includes serving as an editor for digital outlets such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. She continues to refine her skin care knowledge while spending time traveling the world with her husband.