Tretinoin might be the gold standard for all things skin-related, but using it along with other actives can improve its action and accelerate the desired results.
One excellent ingredient to be mixed with tretinoin is niacinamide, and the two together can achieve great results, including refining skin texture, clearing acne, reducing lines and wrinkles, and brightening dark spots.
Therefore, in this article, I will talk about both ingredients, how they work, what are their benefits and drawbacks, and how to mix them for the best results.
What is Tretinoin and How Does it Work?
Tretinoin is a powerful form of vitamin A that improves cellular turnover, promotes collagen production, and reduces skin imperfections such as blemishes, texture, and dark spots.
It does this by binding to retinoid receptors in the skin and instructing them to do their job in maintaining the skin cells better.
This action normalizes the cell function and influences the cells to behave in a healthier and younger way, making the skin look brighter and more youthful and purging the dead skin cells stuck inside the pores that have contributed to the formation of blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples.
Some of the main benefits of using tretinoin are:
However, although efficient and considered the gold standard in skincare, tretinoin often comes with initial side effects that tend to scare away many people.
These include dryness, flaking, redness, and even breaking out before the skin adapts to the treatment. But luckily, these side effects are only temporary and tend to disappear as the skin continues to get used to the ingredient.
What is Niacinamide and How Does it Work?
Niacinamide is a water-soluble, non-acidic form of vitamin B3 often used in skincare products due to the many benefits it provides for the skin.
It’s an antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental damage while also calming irritation and repairing a damaged barrier by helping the skin improve its natural production of barrier-strengthening ceramides.
Additionally, niacinamide can be particularly useful to those whose skin is oily or prone to breakouts, as it also helps balance out oil production by hydrating the skin and keeping pore-clogging sebum at bay.
Niacinamide can also help correct skin irregularities like hyperpigmentation by inhibiting the enzymes responsible for producing excess melanin, and it also helps refine uneven skin texture caused by clogged pores or excessive dryness.
Some of the main benefits of using niacinamide are:
And if all that’s not enough to make niacinamide the darling of the skincare world, this ingredient also has an extremely low potential of causing adverse effects or unwanted reactions like irritations, sensitivities, and allergies.
This makes niacinamide suitable for all skin types and especially useful for someone going through a tretinoin treatment who is likely dealing with skin sensitivity.
Can You Mix Tretinoin Cream with Niacinamide?
Tretinoin and niacinamide work together very well, as they both have different mechanisms of action and complement each other.
Tretinoin speeds up cellular turnover and helps fade blemishes, discoloration, and wrinkles.
At the same time, niacinamide helps reduce inflammation and irritation associated with tretinoin use while also providing antioxidant protection, repairing the barrier, and preventing dehydration.
The best way to mix tretinoin and niacinamide is to use a product that contains both ingredients.
Now, this isn’t the case when it comes to some popular OG brands like Retin-A; however, newer tretinoin formulas, like the ones from Dermatica (Europe) or Apostrophe (US), already contain niacinamide in them.
Alternatively, you can use tretinoin and niacinamide separately by applying tretinoin at night and niacinamide in the morning.
This will help maintain a healthy balance between both ingredients and prevent any potential irritation or dehydration caused by mixing them.
Finally, you can also use tretinoin and niacinamide in the same routine by using the products from the thinnest to the thickest order.
For example, if you’re using a niacinamide serum, you should always use it on clean, damp skin and follow it up with tretinoin cream.
On the other hand, if your moisturizer contains niacinamide, you should apply it 20-30 minutes after applying tretinoin to ensure you won’t move the tretinoin around and get uneven coverage.
No matter which way you decide to go, mixing tretinoin and niacinamide can be a great way to achieve better results when it comes to overall skin improvement.
The Risks of Mixing Tretinoin With Niacinamide
Although mixing tretinoin and niacinamide can be beneficial for the skin, as with any other ingredient, there is always the potential of experiencing some side effects, especially if you don’t use these products correctly.
The most common issues when mixing tretinoin and niacinamide are irritation, redness, peeling, and sensitive reactions.
This can be due to the skin getting used to tretinoin and experiencing its initial side effects, but niacinamide can, in some cases, also be the culprit for unwanted effects.
For example, niacinamide is an ingredient that has demonstrated its effectiveness in concentrations as low as 4-5%.
However, in most over-the-counter products, you will find niacinamide in concentrations of up to 10-20%, which can potentially be too strong and irritating for some skins.
Additionally, not every niacinamide product on the market will necessarily work for you or is necessarily good, so the potential of experiencing side effects is increased if the formula doesn’t work well for your skin or isn’t that good in general.
Now, if you’re worried about experiencing any of these issues when mixing tretinoin and niacinamide, the best thing to do is to opt for a tretinoin product that contains niacinamide, as this is usually a well-balanced formula that contains the appropriate percentage of both ingredients to make sure they don’t clash.
Additionally, another option that will minimize the risk of experiencing adverse effects is using tretinoin and niacinamide in separate routines until you are sure that your skin can tolerate both ingredients before gradually introducing them into the same skincare routine.
Finally, the third option is to opt for lower percentages of both actives to reduce the risk of irritation.
Therefore, instead of starting with a stronger percentage of tretinoin, you can start with a lower one and gradually increase it.
Likewise, instead of starting a 10% niacinamide serum right off the bat, opt for a moisturizer that contains this ingredient, as these are usually formulated with lower concentrations that are more appropriate for sensitive skin.
By following these precautions, you can safely mix tretinoin and niacinamide while still getting the best from both worlds.
My name is Simone and I am a certified skin specialist. I created this website to teach my readers how to take great care of their skin and I also like to occasionally share my honest opinions on skincare products I’ve tried. You can learn more about me here.
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