Skincare Stacy

Skincare Stacy
The Ultimate Guide to Using Tretinoin and Niacinamide Together

The Ultimate Guide to Using Tretinoin and Niacinamide Together

If you’re trying to get the most out of your anti-aging skincare routine, combining tretinoin and niacinamide might be a game-changer.

On one hand, tretinoin cream is a skincare superstar with proven abilities to fight fine lines and wrinkles and treat acne.

On the other, niacinamide is a powerful ingredient that can help even out your skin tone and fade acne scars.

Both ingredients are safe for oily skin but can sometimes cause skin irritation, particularly for those with sensitive skin.

So, is it safe and effective to use these two ingredients together?

In this article, I’ll walk you through everything you need to know about using tretinoin and niacinamide together.

What is Tretinoin?


Also known as retinoic acid or retin-A, tretinoin is a vitamin A derivative that works by speeding up the turnover of dead skin cells and stimulating collagen production.

In fact, many studies have confirmed tretinoin’s abilities to:

  • Speed up skin cell turnover

  • Reduce fine lines and wrinkles

  • Improve your skin texture

  • Minimize the appearance of enlarged pores

  • Reduce pigmentation abnormalities

  • Build collagen

  • Help with unclogging pores

  • Regulate sebum production

Additionally, tretinoin is often prescribed by dermatologists are a treatment for acne.

However, there are some downsides as well.

Potential Side Effects of Tretinoin

Many people experience side effects when starting tretinoin, such as:

  • Skin irritation

  • Flakiness and peeling

  • Redness

  • Itchiness

  • Dry skin

Studies show that these side effects improve over time as your skin adjusts to retinoic acid.

However, some individuals may still experience lasting sensitivity.

Therefore, it’s important to either “buffer” tretinoin or layer it with hydrating and soothing ingredients.

Enter niacinamide!

What is Niacinamide?

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum with BowTiedFawn branding

A derivative of vitamin B3, niacinamide is a popular skincare ingredient.

Studies show that niacinamide has benefits like:

  • Minimizing the appearance of large pores

  • Improving uneven skin texture

  • Fighting fine lines and wrinkles

  • Evening out skin tone

  • Increasing ceramide production

  • Supporting your skin barrier

Niacinamide is generally well-tolerated and is unlikely to cause sensitivity or irritation.

It is safe to use tretinoin and niacinamide together?

Naturium Niacinamide Gel Cream 5%

Yes, it is safe to use tretinoin and niacinamide together.

In fact, research shows that the combination of niacinamide and tretinoin is:

  • Well-tolerated

  • Stable

  • Synergistic

“Synergistic” means that combining niacinamide and tretinoin together may enhance their efficacy and improve your results!

One study found that using niacinamide and tretinoin together led to improvements in skin tone and fine lines compared to just using tretinoin by itself.

Another study suggested that people with acne-prone skin benefitted from niacinamide which reduced the skin irritation typically associated with tretinoin!

All of this evidence supports the use of niacinamide and tretinoin together.

How to Use Tretinoin and Niacinamide Together

When you first introduce tretinoin, be sure to start slowly by applying it just 2-3 nights per week.

As your skin adjusts, you can slowly increase the frequency to about 5-6 nights per week.

You will want to avoid combining tretinoin with other potentially irritating ingredients, including:

  • Retinol

  • Salicylic acid

  • Benzoyl peroxide

  • Glycolic acid

Be sure to monitor your skin for signs of irritation like dryness or peeling.

As your skin adjusts, you can start adding in a niacinamide serum after applying tretinoin a few nights per week.

Slowly increase the frequency until you’re able to use them together 5-6 nights per week.

In general, you should apply moisturizer after niacinamide and tretinoin to reduce any side effects.

Should you apply niacinamide before or after tretinoin?

Naturium Niacinamide Cleansing Gelee

To maximize anti-aging benefits, I suggest you apply your niacinamide serum after tretinoin.

Research suggests that this order allows tretinoin to penetrate your skin most effectively and therefore produces the best anti-aging results.

However, if you have particularly sensitive skin, applying your niacinamide serum first may provide a “buffering” effect and reduce skin redness caused by tretinoin.

You can try both methods to determine which one works best for you. Then, stick to it and be consistent.

Skincare Routines with Tretinoin and Niacinamide

Tretinoin .05%

To get the most out of your skincare routine with tretinoin, follow this order:


  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser

  2. Apply 3-5 drops of a vitamin C serum

  3. Apply a lightweight moisturizer

  4. Finish off with SPF


  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser

  2. Apply a pea-sized amount of tretinoin

  3. Wait 2 minutes for your tretinoin to absorb fully

  4. Apply 3-5 drops of your niacinamide serum

  5. Finish off with a moisturizer and facial oil as necessary

That’s it!

Summary: Niacinamide with Retin-A

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Niacinamide Serum with BowTiedFawn branding

Both niacinamide and tretinoin are powerful skincare ingredients that can help fight signs of aging and improve your skin tone.

At the same time, they can cause side effects like skin irritation or dryness. To avoid these side effects, first apply your tretinoin, then follow up with your niacinamide serum and a good moisturizer.

Of course, you must be consistent (yet gentle!) as you introduce these two powerful ingredients into your routine.

Be sure to keep reasonable expectations as both tretinoin and niacinamide can take weeks or months to showcase great results.

With careful and patient use, niacinamide and tretinoin can truly be a winning combination for beautiful, glowing skin.

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