Assembling a skin care routine isn’t the most straightforward task. Not only are there countless products on the market to choose from, but you also have to consider which ones mix well together and which don’t. Luckily, skin care experts have a wealth of knowledge to help you create a safe and effective line-up; some of them even share their knowledge on social media for easy access. 

For example, board-certified dermatologist Luke Maxfield, D.O., FAAD, recently shared his “dynamic duo” product combination for photoaging over on TikTok—here’s what he recommends. 

Why you should use retinoids and niacinamide for photoaging.

Maxfield’s dream combo: niacinamide and retinoids. According to Maxfield, both of these products can decrease oil production, address fine lines and wrinkles, manage breakouts, fade dark spots, and improve elasticity in the skin. However, these products work in very different ways. 

“Retinoids carry the team,” Maxfield says. This makes sense given retinoids (both OTC and prescription-grade options) enhance cell turnover in the skin. When it comes to photoaging, this process is ideal. 

On a molecular level, retinoids combat skin aging by inhibiting metalloproteinases, or collagen-degrading enzymes. Additionally, they encourage cell turnover and help thicken the epidermis and even out hyperpigmentation. Plus, retinoids help to improve skin texture–all A+ functions for those looking to treat photoaging. 

While retinoids are the key product in this combo, niacinamide serves as a “booster,” Maxfield says. See, niacinamide boasts a few benefits that retinoids don’t—it nourishes the skin barrier and serves as a soothing antioxidant, so it protects the skin from oxidative stress and is ideal for inflamed skin.

While the benefits of retinoids take the cake, think of niacinamide as the cherry on top. Here’s a curated list of 12 mbg approved niacinamide serums if you’re on the hunt. 

Skin care can be confusing, especially when you’re trying to figure out which ingredients to mix and which ones should be used separately. Luckily, experts often share their go-to combos, Maxfield’s being retinoids and niacinamide for dark spots, aging skin, breakouts, and more. If you don’t have a favorite retinol yet, shop these top picks