- Niacinamide has many research-backed benefits for skin issues such as rosacea, acne, and hyperpigmentation.
- It can help strengthen the skin’s barrier function, which also makes it an effective anti-aging ingredient.
- You can incorporate niacinamide into your beauty regimen through a variety of products, and it’s safe for all skin types.
By now, you are probably aware of the benefits of retinol and vitamin C skin products. But did you know that niacinamide — also known as vitamin B3 — packs a powerful punch when it comes to skin care?
Although this ingredient might not get quite as much hype, it’s an ultra-versatile multitasker that can be used to address a wide range of skin concerns and improve the overall appearance of essentially every skin type. In fact, the increasing body of research available demonstrates all the impressive anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and acne-fighting benefits of niacinamide.
Here’s everything you need to know about how this often-overlooked vitamin can transform your complexion.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3. This essential vitamin performs some pretty important functions, such as helping to flush toxins out of the liver and keeping your metabolism functioning at its best.
However, niacinamide isn’t produced naturally in the body. In order to reap its rewards, you’ll need to either apply it topically with skincare products or ingest it as a dietary supplement.
Can niacinamide improve my skin?
The short answer is yes — this vitamin can visibly improve your skin in a number of different ways.
Here’s how it works: niacinamide strengthens the barrier function that is responsible for protecting your skin from environmental aggressors. Because the skin’s barrier function plays a key role in preventing moisture loss, one major benefit of niacinamide is that it can prevent dehydration.
In other words, you can kiss that tight, dry feeling goodbye. Meanwhile, niacinamide also helps boost cell turnover and circulation, both of which are important in maintaining a radiant, youthful-looking complexion.
“Topically, niacinamide is a wonderful ingredient for improving hydration, reducing inflammation, and inhibiting abnormal pigmentation,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer T. Haley. “I often recommend a niacinamide-containing cream for patients with acne, rosacea, blemishes, and sensitive skin.”
Here’s a breakdown of the many issues niacinamide can address:
- Inflammation and irritation
Have you struggled with rosacea or dealt with redness and blotchiness? Niacinamide can be a game-changer in addressing these issues thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
In fact, a 2005 study conducted by Wake Forest University scientists revealed that applying a niacinamide-based moisturizer twice a day for four weeks alleviated participants’ symptoms of rosacea.
- Signs of aging
As previously mentioned, niacinamide is an excellent addition to any anti-aging skin regimen because it keeps damaging free radicals out of your skin while keeping moisture in.
According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Dermatology, 64% of subjects who applied a 4% niacinamide cream saw a reduction in wrinkles around the eye area.
Did you know that collagen plays a crucial role in your skin’s elasticity and overall structure? As you age, your skin makes less and less of this substance. Fortunately, a 2002 study published in the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists showed that niacinamide can increase collagen production.
Other studies have shown that topical application of a 2.5% niacinamide cream smooths skin texture and corrects some signs of aging by accelerating cell turnover in the epidermis.
Battling brown spots, dark spots, or any kind of hyperpigmentation? This is another problem niacinamide can help to solve. According to a 2005 study published in Dermatologic Surgery, women who applied a product with 5% niacinamide twice daily for three months saw significant improvements in hyperpigmented spots, sallowness (yellowing), and red blotchiness.
Another study has shown that using niacinamide for just four weeks can reduce pigmented spots and help the skin to look more evenly toned overall. Skin yellowing is another common issue that comes with age — research has shown that niacinamide can boost the levels of certain antioxidants that halt this process.
- Acne blemishes
As you may know, sebum is an oily substance that can cause blemishes or full-blown breakouts and a shiny appearance when produced in excess. Although there are many over-the-counter acne products that absorb sebum, niacinamide can actually lower levels of this substance in the skin, while also calming inflammation.
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy concluded that participants who used a 2% topical cream experienced a significantly reduced sebum excretion rate in their skin. As an added bonus, niacinamide won’t cause the kind of harmful bacterial resistance that antibiotics can.
“Topically and orally, it can help the inflammatory component of acne: the pimples and pustules,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Robin Evans of Southern Connecticut Dermatology in Stamford. “Topically, it can be applied on the affected part of the body daily to help resolve active lesions and also to help prevent new lesions.”
How can I use niacinamide?
There is a multitude of ways you can incorporate niacinamide into your skin care routine, from moisturizers and serums to toners and sunscreens. It can be a beneficial addition to your regimen whether you have dry, oily, sensitive, or combination skin. In fact, one 2006 study revealed that a 5% niacinamide product was well tolerated by all skin types.
Niacinamide can be used in the morning, at night, or any time in between. And luckily, it’s compatible with other common ingredients such as alpha hydroxy acids, peptides, antioxidants, and retinol, so you don’t have to worry about a reaction.
To fully reap the rewards of niacinamide it’s best to apply it twice a day. The best way to integrate it into your routine is by using products that are left on the skin, such as a night cream, serum, or eye cream, so that your skin can fully absorb it for maximum benefit.
If you’re eager to see what niacinamide can do for your skin, consider adding any of these products to your regimen.
SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum
Struggling with stubborn discoloration? This potent serum is formulated to resolve just that. Not only does it contain niacinamide, it also contains tranexamic acid (an anti-inflammatory skin lightener), phenylethyl resorcinol (a skin-brightening antioxidant), phytic acid (a superficial skin peel), and a skin-strengthening blend of marine extracts.
Simply apply one pump twice daily to your entire face after using your cleanser and toner for a more even-toned complexion.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
There’s a reason this product quickly reached cult status: with a strong blend of vitamins and minerals, it’s capable of shrinking enlarged pores, improving acne, and balancing the oil in your skin for reduced shine. It also contains a higher concentration (10%) of niacinamide than many other products.
The addition of zinc boosts the serum’s anti-inflammatory properties, while also adding to its ability to increase collagen production in the skin. Use this water-based serum on your skin twice daily before any other moisturizer to experience its full effects.
Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
Use this serum booster alone or add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer. It’s formulated with a high concentration of niacinamide, along with a plethora of other powerful antioxidants, to minimize your pores and even out your skin tone and improve its overall texture.
Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum
If you’re trying to home in on anti-aging around the eyes, this serum is formulated to improve elasticity and firmness, diminish the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, and fade age spots.
In fact, a survey of users found that 92% saw an improved appearance of the eye area, 90% thought the eye area appeared revived and awakened, and 86% reported a reduced appearance of fine lines around and under eyes.
» To learn more about niacinamide skin care products, meet our Medical Review Team.