Niacinamide, retinol, and salicylic acid are superstar components on their own.

Salicylic acid is a well-known go-to for reducing excessive oil and sebum. Retinol improves skin cell regeneration and collagen stimulation, enhancing the skin’s appearance and reducing hyperpigmentation. And Niacinamide is a well-known quadruple threat that tightens pores, restores the skin barrier, soothes inflammation, and controls oil production.

Can I use salicylic acid and retinol together?

Before we begin, we must know what salicylic acid and retinol are.

What is salicylic acid?

Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) that penetrates the skin deeply, unclogs blocked pores, and exfoliates the skin. It is one of the finest skin care components for people with oily and acne-prone skin.

Dermatologists and skin experts advise using this Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) since it is scientifically proven to treat persistent skin issues like –

  • Excess oil production
  • Pigmentation
  • Uneven skin texture

That is why salicylic acid serum can efficiently resolve, unlike traditional over-the-counter products that seem to be incompetent and work on the surface level.

What is retinol?

Retinol, an over-the-counter (OTC), is produced from vitamin A and is generally used to cure mature-looking skin issues, acne, pigmentation marks, skin texture, and thicken the skin.

If you are battling skin aging and acne simultaneously, consider using salicylic acid and retinol serum.

While using one or the other will undoubtedly give you results, using both in your skincare routine (at different time intervals) will yield better outcomes.

This is because both ingredients, salicylic acid (for treating acne) and retinol (for addressing age signs)—are regarded as the skin’s guardian angels.

However, we would never recommend you mix them or apply them together.

You must be wondering why? If both ingredients are acceptable for the skin, why not use them together for even better results?

This is because if someone uses salicylic acid and retinol simultaneously, there comes a very high risk of skin irritation.

Both salicylic acid and retinol are renowned for drying out the skin, especially when you are just beginning skin treatment and your skin has not developed resistance. Combining these compounds can damage your skin’s protective barrier, leaving you with flaky, irritated, and sensitive skin.

Can I use salicylic acid and niacinamide together?

Before we jump into the details, let us understand what niacinamide is.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, is a well-known humectant. It is a water-soluble ingredient that gels well with the natural components in your skin to dramatically reduce enlarged pores, improve uneven skin tone, and dullness, and restore weakened skin surfaces. Additionally, it is known to deeply hydrate the skin.

Although salicylic acid serum and Niacinamide serum are both beneficial individually, using them together in your skin care regimen will give you synergistic advantages.

While salicylic acid will deeply clean your pores and control sebum production, it will not give you the barrier-strengthening support of Niacinamide.

On the other hand, adding niacinamide to the skincare routine will improve the ability of your skin to retain moisture, strengthen the skin barrier, and reduce redness and swelling. But it won’t eliminate dead skin cells or unclog blocked pores the way salicylic acid can.

Some properties of these ingredients overlap. They reduce pore size, limit oil production, improve the skin’s texture, and lighten discoloration. However, they operate via distinct paths, allowing you to tackle these problems from two angles for optimum outcomes.

Does that mean you can mix salicylic acid and niacinamide?

Yes! They work well together.

Salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into the skin layers since it is lipid-soluble, but it can also dry up and irritate the skin.

On the other hand, niacinamide lowers inflammation while enhancing skin’s natural moisture.

In fact, niacinamide is an extremely versatile substance. Nearly all elements in your skincare regimen can be combined with it without any issues.

Salicylic acid and niacinamide have similar advantages, however they operate differently.

Can I use salicylic acid, retinol and niacinamide together?

As mentioned above, we will not recommend you mix all of these.

However, you can follow the given courses of action instead.

Follow an am-pm routine:

The best way to incorporate retinol, salicylic acid, and niacinamide into your skincare routine is by following an AM-PM routine. It means you can apply one of these during the daytime and the other at night.

If you incorporate salicylic acid-based products during the day, you can not skip using sunscreen at all.

Apply products on alternate nights:

If you are too busy to follow an AM-PM routine, you can use niacinamide, retinol, and salicylic acid on alternate nights. This means you can apply retinol today, salicylic acid tomorrow, and niacinamide the day after.

Whatever courses of action you choose, don’t forget to clean your face with a gentle cleanser and follow up with a moisturizer.


Niacinamide, salicylic acid, and retinol, all three of these are powerhouse skin ingredients. You can definitely use them together, but on alternate days or during different times of the day. That means we do not recommend you mix these ingredients.

However, if you are a beginner, start slow (try using a salicylic acid face wash), do a patch test, and consult your dermatologist first.


It is advisable not to use salicylic acid and retinol on the same day as they can prove to be extremely harsh on certain skin types.
Instead, using them on a different day or on alternative days is suggested!

You sure can! Just don’t forget to follow up with a moisturizer. Using niacinamide during the day and salicylic acid at night is quite a wiser alternative as salicylic acid makes the skin vulnerable to sun exposure. However, the consequences can be prevented by using a heavy sunscreen.

Most dermatologists recommend using niacinamide before retinol. Niacinamide application before retinol can help shield your skin from the after-effects like redness, dryness, or skin tightness of using retinol.
However, there must be at least a 30-minute gap between the layers.

Salicylic acid is the best option if you have oily or acne-prone skin. For best results, you can use niacinamide and salicylic acid to treat oily skin. While salicylic acid will treat oily skin, niacinamide will give the glow your skin will thank you for.


Salicylic acid and niacinamide both have different properties and treat different skin-related issues. Salicylic acid is best for people with oily and acne-prone skin. It unclogs blocked pores, treats inflammation, reduces sebum production, and exfoliates the skin.

On the other hand, niacinamide serum benefits the skin by moisturizing it, evening out the skin tone, and giving it a healthy and supple look.