Contents

How Niacinamide Helps Skin

Niacinamide is a skin care ingredient worthy of your attention and your skin will love you for using it. Among a handful of other amazing skin care ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C, niacinamide is a standout because of its versatility for almost any skin care concern and skin type.

As many of you know about us, but for those who don’t, the conclusions we make about any ingredient are always based on what the published research has shown to be true—and the research about niacinamide unanimously demonstrates how special it is. New research keeps showing it’s one of the most exciting skin care ingredients around.

What is Niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works with the natural substances in your skin to help visibly minimize enlarged pores, tighten lax pores, improve uneven skin tone, soften fine lines and wrinkles, diminish dullness, and strengthen a weakened surface.

Niacinamide also reduces the impact of environmental damage because of its ability to improve skin’s barrier (its first line of defense), plus it also plays a role in helping skin to repair signs of past damage. Left unchecked, this type of daily assault makes skin appear older, dull, and less radiant.

Why You Should Use Niacinamide

As you might have gathered, we’re very impressed with all that niacinamide can do for skin when applied via skin care products like toners, serums, and highly concentrated leave-on treatments. Niacinamide is uniquely compatible with any of the products in your skin care routine, including those that contain retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, BHA, vitamin C, and all types of antioxidants.

You can use multiple niacinamide-containing products in your routine, and it will still be non-sensitizing as this ingenious B vitamin is well tolerated by all skin types. It’s even suitable for use by those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin.

Other helpful benefits of niacinamide are that it helps renew and restore the surface of skin against moisture loss and dehydration by helping skin improve its natural production of skin-strengthening ceramides. When ceramides become depleted over time, skin is left vulnerable to all sorts of problems, from persistent patches of dry, flaky skin to increasingly becoming extra-sensitive.

If you struggle with dry skin, topical application of niacinamide has been shown to boost the hydrating ability of moisturizers so skin’s surface can better resist the moisture loss that leads to recurrent dry, tight, flaky skin. Niacinamide works brilliantly with common moisturizer ingredients like glycerin, non-fragrant plant oils, cholesterol, sodium PCA, and sodium hyaluronate.

How does niacinamide help pores? Great question, although the answer here isn’t certain. Simply put, research hasn’t come to a full understanding about how this B vitamin works its pore-reducing magic, but it does! It seems that niacinamide has a normalizing ability on the pore lining, and that this influence plays a role in keeping debris from getting backed up, which leads to clogs and rough, bumpy skin. As the clog forms and worsens, the pores stretch to compensate, and what you’ll see is enlarged pores. By helping things get back to normal, niacinamide use helps pores return to their normal size. Sun damage can cause pores to become stretched, too, leading to what some describe as “orange peel skin”. Higher concentrations of niacinamide can help visibly tighten pores by shoring up skin’s supportive elements.

How to Use Niacinamide

Using niacinamide is as easy as finding great skin care products that contain it along with other beneficial ingredients like antioxidants, skin-restoring agents, and other skin-replenishing ingredients.

This multi-ingredient approach to skin care is important because as great as niacinamide is for skin, it’s not the only ingredient skin needs to look and feel its best. Think of it like your diet—as healthy as kale is, if kale was all you ate, you’d soon become malnourished because your body needs more than one healthy food to maintain itself. The same is true for skin, the body’s largest (and most exposed) organ!

For best results, use leave-on niacinamide products and apply them to cleansed skin twice daily. That might mean you apply a toner with niacinamide immediately after cleansing to rehydrate and replenish skin. A 10% Niacinamide Booster can be used on its own (much like a serum) or mixed into your favorite moisturizer, based on personal preference. Those with stubborn concerns around advanced signs of sun damage, orange peel texture, lax pores, and oil-related bumps should consider trying an advanced strength 20% niacinamide serum for use once or twice daily. Experiment to see what works best for your skin!

You can use niacinamide-containing products around your eyes, too. Some might find applying a moisturizer or eye cream with niacinamide helps improve the look of under eye circles, helps soften the appearance of crow’s feet, not to mention enables this delicate area to retain skin-smoothing moisture and resist loss of firmness.

There’s no reason to wait to add niacinamide to your skin care routine. This wonderfully versatile B vitamin brings many topical benefits to improve skin’s appearance, so it appears more even, brighter, and younger. As with any great skin care ingredient, it’s important to be diligent about protecting skin daily with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater. This allows you to get maximum benefit from niacinamide and other proven skin savers.

References for this information:
Experimental Dermatology, February 2019, Supplement 1, pages 15-22; and October 2018, ePublication
Dermatologic Therapy, September 2017, ePublication
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 2017, page S116
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, March 2017, pages 158-162; and January 2013, Pages 192-201
Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, May 2016 , pages 145-152
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, July 2015, pages 405-412
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2014, pages 311-315
International Journal of Pharmacy, January 2013, pages 192-201
Dermatoendrocrinology, July 2012, pages 308-319
Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 31, Part 2, 2005, Discussion 865
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2004, pages 231-238
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2004, pages 88-93

Barrier function

“It has been shown to strengthen the skin barrier function, making it especially beneficial for skin prone to dehydration,” says Shabir. An improved barrier prevents trans-epidermal water loss as well as environmental damage. Basically, it keeps the bad stuff (like pollution) out and the good stuff (like moisture) in. What’s more “it helps enhance ceramide production which are tiny lipids that moisturise skin,” says Shabir.

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Ageing

“Niacinamide increases cellular energy, improving cell turnover, microcirculation and antioxidant protection – all of this helps slow skin aging,” says Kate. It’s also require for collagen synthesis, explains Shabir, and collagen is essential for plump, youthful looking skin.

Hyperpigmentation

“Niacinamide helps to ensure an even distribution of pigment to tackle age spots and hyperpigmentation.”

How do I use it?

Any skin type and age can benefit from using niacinamide in their skincare routine. Ideally you should use it twice a day, both morning and evening. For the most beneficial results, opt for formulas (like serums and moisturisers) that can be left on the skin for maximum absorption.

So, if you’re after plump, hydrated skin as well as a reduction in sensitivity, acne and visible pores, niacinamide may just be the answer.

If you popped into my inbox, these are some of the skincare concerns you’d find people asking me about:

  • “I have some hyperpigmentation that I’ve been trying to get rid of for years.” — Hana
  • “I’m looking to reduce forehead wrinkles and wrinkles around the eyes.” — Ric
  • “I have acne, acne scarring and signs of aging at the same time.” — Jeramia
  • “My face is like an oil slick.” — Jake
  • “I get a lot of redness and it drives me crazy.” — Allison

It’s a pretty diverse range of issues, right? But there’s something that ALL of these skin struggles have in common.

Every single one can be treated with topical niacinamide!

In this tutorial, I’ll be explaining:

  • What niacinamide is and how it works
  • The many ways it can benefit your skin
  • The best products to try
  • Why it’s the skincare active I recommend for EVERYONE

If you’re new to this wonder ingredient, I’m so excited for you to discover it!

Niacinamide serums from Skin Inc Supplement Bar, Paula’s Choice, Glossier, SkinCeuticals and The Ordinary.

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is the active form of niacin (also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid).

As a water-soluble vitamin, it won’t dissolve in oil, so you’ll typically find it in water-based serums. Perfect for anyone whose skin hates oils and oily solvents!

It’s also one of the more stable active ingredients in skincare, with a pH around neutral. So unlike alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids, L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and retinoids, it is non-acidic and non-irritating.

Niacinamide Mechanism of Action

Niacinamide increases energy production within our skin cells.

In our bodies, niacinamide is formed when we eat foods high in niacin (like liver or mushrooms). We convert the niacin into active niacinamide, which in turn acts as a precursor to the coenzymes NADH and NADPH.

These coenzymes boost cellular metabolism, meaning they give our skin cells the energy to carry out their functions. In fact, they are involved in more than 40 biochemical processes, including such important jobs as DNA repair and cell turnover.

Since niacinamide readily penetrates into the skin, we don’t have to rely on our diets or a dietary supplement. We can also benefit from using it topically!

As for its mechanism of action, it has the following properties:

  • Photoprotective
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antimicrobial
  • Sebostatic (sebum reducing)
  • Antipruritic (soothing)
  • Lightening

Niacinamide Skin Benefits

A niacinamide serum can help with everything from acne to wrinkles.

Ready to see what niacinamide can do? Here are all the ways it can help your skin (it’s a long list!):

1. Fights Free Radicals

Niacinamide has been found to protect from free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. According to the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, it “increases the antioxidant capacity of skin after topical application.”

That means you can use it instead of a vitamin C-based antioxidant serum. I personally prefer it, as L-ascorbic acid is notoriously unstable, acidic and often oily on the skin. Definitely consider switching if you’d prefer something lightweight and longer-lasting.

2. Fades Pigmentation

Melasma before and after eight weeks of treatment with four percent niacinamide. (Source: Navarrete-Solís et al., 2011)

Niacinamide has proved to be an excellent treatment for pigmentation, age spots and melasma.

This study found a significant decrease in hyperpigmentation after four weeks of treatment with as little as two percent niacinamide.

For melasma, this study found that four percent niacinamide is comparable to four percent hydroquinone. But it has fewer side effects and a much better safety profile.

3. Reduces Wrinkles

Niacinamide significantly improves fine lines and wrinkles, according to this double-blind study (using a four percent concentration).

Another study found that four percent significantly reduced wrinkles in the eye area after eight weeks.

Some researchers have suggested that niacinamide does this by increasing collagen production in the dermis. But it also helps normalize collagen, keeping it supple and flexible! According to Dermatology Times, it “inhibits protein glycation, effectively reducing deposition of cross-linked collagen and elastin molecules in the skin. Cross-linked collagen and elastin molecules are stiff and rigid, resulting in altered viscoelastic properties of the skin.”

4. Treats Acne

With its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, niacinamide is a great treatment to try if you have acne.

For moderate acne, this study found that four percent niacinamide gives comparable results to one percent clindamycin, a topical antibiotic. And it doesn’t have the risk of bacterial resistance.

Another study concluded that the same amount, four percent, “is effective and safe in alleviating symptoms of mild to moderate acne.”

Bonus: It’s also a lot gentler on your skin than acids, retinoids and benzoyl peroxide!

5. Regulates Oil Production

Maybe you don’t have acne, but struggle with oily skin. Well, niacinamide can help with that, too.

This study found that just two percent can lower sebum levels and the rate of sebum excretion.

This is different from most topical treatments for oily skin, which just try to absorb the excess sebum. Niacinamide can actually slow down how much is released, with changes evident after two to four weeks.

6. Shrinks Pores and Smooths Texture

Pores before and after 12 weeks of treatment with niacinamide and salicylic acid. (Source: Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Practice)

You’ve probably heard that you can’t shrink your pores. Actually, you CAN—with niacinamide!

Don’t believe me? Take it from Dermatology Times: “Clinically it reduces pore size, and improves skin texture.”

A 12-week study cited in Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Practice found that niacinamide and salicylic acid significantly reduce pore size and bumpy skin texture.

This happens because of niacinamide’s ability to reduce sebum production. Pores always look larger when they are trapped with sebum and dead skin. So with less oil, they’re not going to be as stretched out. And with smaller pores, the skin texture looks softer and smoother.

7. Reduces Redness

If you’re prone to redness, niacinamide is one of the best ingredients you can apply.

This study found that five percent significantly improved red, blotchy skin. And this one established that it is a beneficial treatment for rosacea.

The theory is that niacinamide improves the function of the skin barrier, which means less irritation and less reddening.

8. Strengthens the Skin Barrier

If your skin seems very intolerant—even stinging when you apply your skincare—then it’s possible your skin barrier has become compromised. I often hear from people who are experiencing this after using topicals that were too harsh, such as prescription retinoids.

To restore barrier function, I always suggest trying niacinamide. It reduces transepidermal water loss and increases the moisture content of the stratum corneum, resulting in a thicker and stronger barrier. According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, it “would be a suitable component in cosmetic products for use in disorders of epidermal barrier function.”

9. Reduces Dryness

Another way you can use niacinamide is to treat dry skin.

This study compared two percent niacinamide with white petrolatum (a.k.a. mineral oil), and found that niacinamide significantly decreases water loss—but petrolatum does not. Niacinamide was also proven more effective at increasing hydration in the skin’s outermost layer.

Another study found that a twice-daily application of niacinamide lowered inflammation, decreased water loss and increased the thickness of the stratum corneum.

10. Reduces Sallowness

Ever noticed how some people’s skin seems to take on a sallow, yellow cast as they get older?

It happens due to oxidative stress, which increases as we age—and which niacinamide, as an antioxidant, can inhibit.

This study found that five percent, applied twice daily, significantly reduced skin sallowness (yellowing). The same significant improvements were noted in this study.

11. Protects from UV Damage

Lastly, consider niacinamide as an adjunct to your sunscreen if you are spending a lot of time in the sun. Research has shown that it has some photoprotective properties.

This study showed that niacinamide aids in DNA repair after UV damage. This study found that niacinamide protects against immunosuppression caused by UVA and UVB, making it “a promising agent for skin cancer prevention.” And this study discovered that it helps prevent photocarcinogenesis.

Niacinamide Side Effects

As if niacinamide didn’t have enough going for it, here’s one more thing to know…

It has virtually no side effects! According to Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Practice, it “can be used at high doses topically (at least up to five percent) and is generally well tolerated.”

So it’s one of the safest active ingredients, and would be a great alternative to retinoids or acids if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Most of the clinical studies got results using concentrations between two and five percent. However, there are products now that go as high as 10 to 12 percent. (Chat with your doctor about the latter if you have a medical condition, as that may be too big a dose.)

If you do experience irritation from a niacinamide product, it’s probably another ingredient in the formula. According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, “it likely was one of the preservatives in the product causing the irritation, not the niacinamide itself.”

In rare cases, high doses might cause some stinging or redness in sensitive skin. If this happens, try a lower concentration instead.

The Best Niacinamides to Try

Ready to see how a niacinamide serum benefits your skin? These are the best products I’ve found…

Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum

Kristina Holey Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum

Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum is ideal if you’re looking for a natural option. It’s a lightweight gel chock-full of botanical ingredients and 10 percent niacinamide.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster

Paula’s Choice 10 Percent Niacinamide Booster

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster was the OG high dose niacinamide. It offers a 10 percent concentration, in a light liquid formula free of silicones.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is the most affordable of the bunch. This is another high-dose, silicone-free formula, with the addition of zinc to control oil. It does have a tendency to ball up under other products, but you can try these tips to prevent pilling.

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum is a new 10 percent niacinamide treatment at a super affordable price. This is a water-based formula, so it’s very lightweight. It’s also fragrance-free and silicone-free.

SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense

SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense

SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense is a serum for targeting dark spots. Besides five percent niacinamide, it has tranexamic acid, kojic acid and sulfonic acid (and no silicones).

Skin Inc Supplement Bar Vitamin B3+ Serum

Skin Inc Supplement Bar Vitamin B3+ Serum

Skin Inc Supplement Bar Vitamin B3+ Serum is a fast-absorbing, lightweight serum, also free of silicones. However, they don’t disclose the percentage of niacinamide… hopefully it’s at least four percent!

Iron Power NiaSerum Niacinamide Serum

Iron Power NiaSerum Niacinamide Serum

Iron Power NiaSerum Niacinamide Serum is your Amazon option. Also your minimalist option, since it has only three ingredients! And with 12 percent, it’s the highest concentration of niacinamide I’ve seen.

Glossier Super Pure

Glossier Super Pure

Glossier Super Pure is another niacinamide and zinc concoction, although we don’t know how much they used of each. Still, the ingredients list is surprisingly short (for them); it’s also low-silicone and has a light, watery texture.

Derma E Radiance Brightening Serum

Derma E Radiance Brightening Serum

Derma E Radiance Brightening Serum is an oil-free and silicone-free serum that targets pigmentation, uneven tone and sun damage. Although they don’t disclose the percentage of niacinamide, it is high on the ingredients list (after water, glycerin and carrageenan).

The Inkey List Niacinamide

The Inkey List Niacinamide

The Inkey List Niacinamide boasts 10 percent niacinamide in a lightweight serum that’s free of silicones and fragrance. The hydrating formula also includes glycerin, squalane and hyaluronic acid (and has an affordable price).

Alpha-H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide

Alpha-H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide

Alpha-H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide combines niacinamide with copper peptides (hence the blue tint). The two together are a powerful but non-irritating anti-aging combo.

Conclusion

Niacinamide belongs in every skincare routine.

Now you’re up to speed on the magic of niacinamide. Honestly, is there anything it can’t do?!

Personally, it has been part of my skincare routine for over a year now, and I can’t imagine EVER being without it.

As per this study, I use it in a routine with salicylic acid. The two are super effective for acne, excess oil and pigmentation. (You can see my results in my winter routine, for example.) I used to get IPL treatments for the sun damage on my cheeks, but no more!

I’ve also found niacinamide serums keep my skin more hydrated than hyaluronic acid, and really calm down my redness. Plus, I tolerate them better than vitamin C, which often breaks me out (not to mention goes rancid before I can finish a bottle!).

All in all, I can’t recommend this ingredient enough, no matter what skin issue you’re trying to target. It truly does it all!

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Have you tried niacinamide?
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Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can treat pellagra, boost skin health, help with diabetes, and more. Topical formulations are used for acne, eczema, psoriasis, and other skin conditions. But how much is too much? Keep reading to learn the benefits, dosage, and potential side effects of niacinamide.

A Variation of Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, consists of two forms: niacinamide (or nicotinamide) and nicotinic acid. Although both molecules compose vitamin B3, they affect the body in different ways .

This article will only cover niacinamide.

How It Works

Niacinamide is needed to make NAD+/NADH and NADP+/NADPH, which slow aging and support cell repair, immune function, and energy use in the body .

Snapshot

Proponents:

  • Fights skin inflammation, acne, rosacea, and psoriasis
  • Reduces dark spots and skin aging
  • May prevent skin cancer
  • May help with diabetes
  • Lowers high phosphate levels
  • May improve arthritis

Skeptics:

  • Mild skin adverse effects (itching)
  • Mild oral adverse effects (nausea)
  • May lower blood platelets

Food Sources

Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that can be found in animal products (such as meat and poultry) and non-processed cereals; it is also available as a supplement .

Best food sources of niacinamide :

Food source Niacinamide content (mg/100 gr)
Brewer’s yeast 120
Red meat 100
Peanuts 100
Chicken 70
Fish 50
Coffee 50
Barley 20
Wheat 15
Beans, rice, potatoes 10
Fruits 4-8
Vegetables 2-4

The body can also make niacinamide from the essential amino acid tryptophan, but it takes 60 mg of tryptophan to produce only 1 mg of niacinamide .

Niacinamide Benefits

1) Niacin Deficiency/Pellagra

Symptoms of a mild niacin deficiency include :

  • Indigestion
  • Fatigue
  • Canker sores
  • Nausea

Severe niacin deficiency causes pellagra, which manifests with dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia (known as the “three Ds”) .

Niacinamide (300-500 mg daily) can resolve the symptoms within one week. It’s FDA-approved for the prevention and treatment of pellagra and preferred over nicotinic acid because it doesn’t dilate the blood vessels and cause face flushing .

Possibly Effective:

One of the causes of acne is excess sebum production, which makes skin oily. Topical niacinamide lowered skin oil production in 50 Japanese people and decreased skin sebum levels in 50 Caucasian (white) people .

On the other hand, some people with acne struggle with dry, damaged skin. Topical niacinamide increases beneficial skin lipids called ceramides. In turn, it strengthens the skin barrier, moisturizes the skin, and reduces water loss .

In a clinical study of 28 people with dry skin, niacinamide cream decreased water loss and increased hydration in the outer skin layer (stratum corneum) better than white petrolatum .

In other clinical studies of over 210 people with mild or moderate acne, niacinamide gel improved acne and decreased acne lesions as effectively as the antibiotic clindamycin .

Oral niacinamide combined with zinc, copper, azelaic acid, pyridoxine, and folic acid reduced acne severity and improved overall skin appearance in a clinical study on 235 people. The same product improved both acne and rosacea in another clinical study on 198 people .

However, in clinical trials conducted on a total of 185 people with acne, adding niacinamide to clindamycin had no effect or was only slightly better than clindamycin alone .

Topical niacinamide improves acne by moisturizing the skin and reducing excess sebum. The combination with clindamycin may not be as effective.

3) Skin Irritation and Inflammation

Rosacea

A topical gel containing niacinamide reduced skin peeling, redness, lesions, and irritation while increasing hydration and the skin barrier health in clinical studies of over 75 people with rosacea .

Psoriasis

Topical niacinamide together with a synthetic form of vitamin D (calcipotriol) improved psoriasis in 50% of the cases in a clinical study on 66 people, compared to a 19% response with placebo .

Seborrheic Dermatitis

In 48 patients with facial seborrheic dermatitis, niacinamide 4% cream (once daily for 3 months) reduced the symptoms such as redness and scaling by 75%, compared to a 35% reduction with a placebo cream .

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Niacinamide 2% cream (twice daily for 2 months) reduced skin water loss and improved skin hydration in 28 patients with atopic dermatitis .

Other

Additionally, niacinamide can block the growth of fungi (Candida albicans, Trichophyton rubrum, and Trichophyton mentagrophytes) causing skin yeast infections .

4) Dark Skin Patches

Two clinical studies support the use of topical niacinamide for skin lightening. In over 160 people with dark patches on the face, it reduced skin pigmentation, inflammation, and premature aging .

A serum containing 5% niacinamide and tranexamic acid (a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine) improved skin tone evenness and texture in clinical studies with over 97 women with hyperpigmentation (dark skin spots) .

Combined with vitamin C and ultrasound radiation, topical niacinamide decreased skin coloring after 4 weeks in 60 people with hyperpigmentation .

In cell studies, niacinamide blocked the transfer of melanin deposits to the outer skin layer, which may explain its skin-lightening effect .

Topical niacinamide improves skin appearance and reduces dark skin patches – both alone and in combination with vitamin C or tranexamic acid.

5) Skin Aging

Niacinamide stimulates the production of collagen and protective proteins (keratin, filaggrin, and involucrin), which give structure and elasticity to the skin. It may help smooth out wrinkles and prevent premature skin aging from UV rays (photoaging) .

Plus, it may delay skin aging by restoring DNA damage and lowering oxidative stress .

Topical niacinamide decreased wrinkles and fine lines, skin redness, and yellowing while improving skin elasticity in clinical studies with 130 women .

In four trials of over 300 women, topical creams with niacinamide and other herbs and vitamins (retinol, resveratrol, safflower, vitamin E, kinetin, and others) reduced the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and improved skin complexion .

Topical niacinamide helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, giving skin a more youthful look.

6) Skin Cancer Prevention

Nonmelanoma skin cancer is usually caused by excessive UV radiation, which can damage the DNA in skin cells and reduce their immune function. The most aggressive forms include squamous cell carcinoma and actinic keratoses .

In a clinical study of 386 people at a high risk of skin cancer, oral niacinamide reduced the rate of nonmelanoma skin cancer by 23% compared to placebo. More precisely, it lowered the rate of new squamous-cell carcinomas by 30% and actinic keratoses by 13% .

In another clinical study of 74 people with skin cancer, oral niacinamide decreased actinic keratoses compared to placebo .

In human cells and mice, topical and oral niacinamide enhanced DNA repair and prevented UV-triggered immune suppression. It also reduced the growth, spread, and survival of melanoma cancer cells .

According to preliminary research, oral niacinamide may help prevent skin damage and cancer caused by excessive UV exposure. More studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness.

7) High Phosphate Levels

People with chronic kidney disease often have dangerously high blood phosphate levels .

In clinical studies with more than 450 adults and 60 children with kidney disease, oral niacinamide decreased high blood phosphate and increased the “good” HDL cholesterol without changing calcium levels .

In rats, niacinamide reduced the activity of a transporter that carries sodium and phosphorus from the gut into the bloodstream, thus lowering phosphorus blood levels .

Oral niacinamide may be beneficial for people with kidney disease as it lowers blood phosphate levels.

8) Diabetes

Type 1

In people with type 1 diabetes, insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas get destroyed. Low insulin, high blood sugar, and low C-peptide often point to type 1 diabetes .

In clinical studies with over 343 adults and 300 children with type 1 diabetes, adding niacinamide to insulin therapy maintained normal C-peptide levels. It preserved the function of beta cells and helped delay disease progression .

However, oral niacinamide failed to prevent diabetes type 1 in clinical studies of over 600 high-risk people .

Type 2

Niacinamide improved C-peptide and blood sugar levels in a small trial of 18 people with type 2 diabetes .

In rats, niacinamide prevented diabetes by reducing beta-cell destruction, lowering oxidative stress, improving immune function, and maintaining normal insulin and glucose levels .

Oral niacinamide may help delay the progression of type 1 diabetes but likely can’t prevent it. It may improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes, but the evidence is scarce.

9) Osteoarthritis

Niacinamide blocks the inflammatory compound IL-1, which contributes to osteoarthritis .

In a clinical study on 72 people with osteoarthritis, niacinamide improved joint movement, lowered inflammation, and decreased the use of anti-inflammatory drugs compared to placebo .

Further research is warranted.

Insufficient Evidence:

No valid clinical evidence supports the use of niacinamide for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.

10) Brain Protection

In 30 people with schizophrenia, vitamin B3 (niacin and niacinamide) improved the symptoms in 80% of the patients after one year, compared to 33% in the placebo group .

In rats, niacinamide reduced brain damage and improved recovery after stroke. In mice, it decreased the expression of a gene linked to Alzheimer’s disease (PSER1), while restoring cognition and improving memory .

It may lower oxidative stress in the brain and reverse damage to blood vessels and nerve cells .

Oral niacinamide may protect the brain and prevent neurological disorders, but the evidence is limited.

Niacinamide Side Effects & Safety

Topical

Topical niacinamide is considered to be safe and non-toxic up to a concentration of 4-5% .

Common, mild side effects include :

  • Skin redness
  • Itching
  • Dryness
  • Flaking

Oral

Oral niacinamide is safe at doses that don’t exceed the safe upper limit. In adults, this limit is 35 mg daily. Most short-term studies used doses above the upper limit and reported no safety issues. Possible mild adverse effects include :

  • Nausea
  • Cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery stools

In rare cases, it can cause a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), which can lead to excessive bleeding and prevent wounds from healing properly .

Toxicity

In extremely high doses of over 3 grams, niacinamide can be toxic to the liver and cause insulin resistance .

Very high doses (2 g/kg) in rats caused and may increase the risk of diabetes type 2. High doses also caused liver damage, tumors, and stunted growth in animals .

Niacinamide Supplements & Creams

Dosage & How to Use

The below doses may not apply to you personally. If your doctor suggests using niacinamide, work with them to find the optimal dosage according to your health condition and other factors.

Topical Use

A topical gel or cream containing 4% or 5% niacinamide applied on the skin twice a day for up to 8 weeks reduces acne, hyperpigmentation, and skin aging .

Oral Use

  • Acne: Nicomide tablets (750 mg of niacinamide, zinc 25 mg, copper 1.5 mg, folic acid 500 mcg) once, twice or 3 times a day. Another option is NicAzel tablets (nicotinamide 600 mg, azelaic acid 5 mg, zinc 10 mg, pyridoxine 5 mg, copper 1.5 mg, and folic acid 500 mcg) up to 4 tablets daily .
  • Pellagra: 300-500 mg niacinamide daily .
  • Skin cancer prevention: 500 mg niacinamide tablets once or twice daily .
  • Diabetes: 25-50 mg/kg niacinamide tablets or capsules daily for delaying the progression of type 1 diabetes .
  • Reducing high phosphate levels: 500 mg up to 1.75 gr daily niacinamide capsules for 8-24 weeks in people with kidney disease .
  • Osteoarthritis: 3 g of niacinamide daily for up to 12 weeks .

Takeaway

Niacinamide (nicotinamide) is a form of vitamin B3 that supports cell repair, immune function, and energy use in the body. Taken orally, it can support skin health, slows the progression of diabetes, and reduce high phosphate levels.

Skin conditions that may benefit from topical niacinamide include acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and seborrheic dermatitis. Creams and gels with up to 5% of niacinamide can also reduce dark skin spots and the signs of aging.

Unlike regular vitamin B3, niacinamide doesn’t cause flushing. Both oral and topical forms are safe and well-tolerated. Avoid extreme doses of over 2 grams, as they may damage the liver.

Every few years, a new “it” ingredient starts making the skin-care rounds—even if it’s not new at all. This time it’s niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 that’s been a fixture in commercial cosmetic formulations and dermatologists’ offices for decades. Recently, though, it’s been popping up in all types of products as a recognizable and desirable skin-care ingredient.

But if you’re not quite sure what niacinamide is or what it’s doing in your moisturizer, you’re not alone. Here’s what you should know before adding it to your skin-care routine.

Niacinamide, which is also called nicotinamide, is one of two major forms of vitamin B3 (niacin) found in supplements (the other is nicotinic acid). It’s often touted to help manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkles. But is there any science behind those claims?

Scientists theorize that niacin (and therefore niacinamide/nicotinamide) may be effective because it’s a precursor to two super-important biochemical cofactors: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+). Both of these molecules are central to the chemical reactions that your cells—including skin cells—need to repair damage, propagate, and function normally. Many of these essential reactions can’t occur at all without NAD+, which your cells can’t make without niacinamide.

“By giving your body the precursor, the thought is that it allows your body to make more NAD+,” John G. Zampella, M.D., assistant professor in the Ronald O. Perelman department of dermatology at NYU Langone Health, tells SELF. This fuels your cells to proliferate and also allows your body to absorb and neutralize more free radicals.

Essentially, free radicals are molecules that have either lost or gained an extra electron, which makes them unstable and highly reactive. In high enough doses, they can damage healthy cells. But NAD+—courtesy of niacin (and niacinamide)—contributes an extra electron to those unpaired free radicals so they can chill out and stop wreaking havoc all over the place.

Interestingly, the same process—helping your body create more NAD+ and, therefore, repair damage—is thought to be the root of both topical and oral benefits derived from niacinamide on the skin. (Reminder: Niacinamide is just another form of niacin.) There’s also evidence that topical niacinamide can increase the production of ceramides (lipids that help maintain the skin’s protective barrier), which may contribute to its topical effects on wrinkles, fine lines, and the skin’s moisture barrier. All of this is probably why you’re seeing niacinamide listed in a bunch of skin-care products.

However, there aren’t a ton of high-quality studies looking at topical niacinamide for many cosmetic uses.

What can niacinamide actually do for you?

If niacinamide is involved in most important cell functions, then there’s nothing it can’t cure, right? Well, no—if every cellular process in our bodies could be perfected with vitamin supplements, we wouldn’t need antibiotics or radiation therapy. That said, oral and topical niacinamide may have some actual benefits for skin health:

Skin cancer prevention:

Ask a dermatologist what niacinamide does best, and the very first thing they’ll say is probably “skin cancer prevention.” In a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gave 386 patients 500mg of oral niacinamide or a placebo twice daily for 12 whole months. All the participants had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers within the previous five years and, therefore, were at a high risk for developing another skin cancer. Results showed that during the study year there were 23 percent fewer new cases of skin cancer in the group that received niacinamide (336 cancers) compared to those who got the placebo (463 cancers).

Vitamin B3, also called niacin, is one of the eight B-complex water-soluble vitamins. Niacin has a wide range of uses in the body, helping functions in the digestive system, skin and nervous system. Niacin, a name coined from nicotinic acid vitamin, comes in several forms, including niacinamide (nicotinamide) and inositol hexanicotinate. Each of these forms has various uses as well.

Food sources of niacin include yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, nuts, green vegetables, beans and enriched breads and cereals. The human body can also make niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Benefits

Like other B vitamins, niacin helps the body break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins into energy, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. In addition, it plays a role in gland and liver function. “Niacin has a role in producing certain hormones in the adrenal glands and helps remove harmful chemicals from the liver,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, told Live Science.

Niacin also can play a part in improving health. According to NIH, it is also used for treating migraine headaches, circulation problems and dizziness, and to reduce the diarrhea associated with cholera.

Some studies have found the taking niacin may help stroke patients. When rats with ischemic stroke were given niacin, their brains grew new blood vessels, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Ischemic stroke is caused by an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain and accounts for 87 percent of all cases. A 2000 study published in the journal Stroke also used rats and found that treatment with nicotinamide may repair damage to the brain caused by strokes.

Vitamin B3 may also be helpful to cancer patients. A recent study found that nicotinamide significantly reduces the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancers in those with a history of basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.

It may be good for other skin conditions, too. In a double-blind trial by the State University of New York, the topical application of a 4 percent niacinamide gel twice a day for two months resulted in a similar acne improvement when compared to 1 percent clindamycin gel.

Those who have intimacy problems may also benefit from niacin. According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, vitamin B3 was found to improve the ability to maintain an erection in men with moderate to severe erectile dysfunction.

A recent animal study suggested that niacin may be helpful in preventing inflammatory bowel disease and colitis. The 2017 study, published in Scientific Reports, found that rats that were given niacin and then induced with colitis saw less colonic damage than those who did not receive niacin. The authors attribute this protection to niacin’s anti-inflammatory and anti-angiogenic effects. (Angiogenic means the formation and development of blood vessels.)

Niacin and cholesterol

Niacin is known for lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. Additionally, the Mayo Clinic reported that niacin could raise HDL (good) cholesterol by more than 30 percent. Therefore, niacin has been a major part of treating high cholesterol for at least 50 years. But a large-scale 2014 study has caused some health professionals to revisit that view.

The study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined 50- to 80-year-olds with cardiovascular disease. They were already taking statin medication, which was combined with extended-release niacin and laropiprant, which reduces face flushing associated with niacin, for four years. Niacin did not result in the hypothesized reduced heart attacks and strokes. It also was associated with a higher risk of death from all causes and serious side effects, including liver problems, excess bleeding, infections, loss of blood sugar control in diabetics, gout and the development of diabetes. The authors of the study conclude that doctors should take these adverse effects into consideration when prescribing niacin and perhaps niacin should only be used to treat severe patients.

A 2017 article in the Journal of Clinical-Lipidology, however, cited previous studies that saw reductions in cardiovascular events in patients that combined niacin with statins. The authors of the article state that more research is needed before niacin ends its term as a cholesterol therapy mainstay.

Niacin flush

One side effect of taking niacin supplements is mild flushing. Ross described it as a feeling of warmth, itching, redness or a tingly feeling under the skin. The flushing is harmless and usually subsides within one or two hours, according to the British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Center (DPIC). Some over-the-counter niacin tablets deliver the dose in a short burst, which makes the reaction more intense. Timed-release tablets deliver the vitamin more slowly, which reduces the intensity of the flushing. However, this type of niacin may cause liver damage in some people, according to the DPIC.

Other side effects can include stomach upset, intestinal gas, dizziness and pain in the mouth, the NIH reported.

Deficiency and dosage

In the United States and other developed countries, niacin deficiency is rare and is typically found in alcoholics. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, symptoms of mild niacin deficiency include fatigue, canker sores, vomiting, depression, poor circulation and indigestion. More severe niacin deficiency can cause a condition called pellagra. The symptoms of pellagra include digestive problems, inflamed or flakey skin, diarrhea and mental impairment.

The normal recommended daily allowance (RDA) of niacin is dependent on age, gender, health conditions and reproductive status. For women and men, the average RDA is 14 to 16 milligrams a day, according to the NIH. Those taking medications or those that have medical conditions should contact a medical professional before taking niacin due to drug interactions and side effects.

Getting too much niacin is possible, even for healthy individuals. “When taking it, you need to check for interactions with other meds and make sure your labs tests are normal,” said Dr. Kristine Arthur, internist at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. “If you take too much you can have side effects including nausea, stomach upset, abnormal liver tests, muscle breakdown and flushing — usually with over 1 to 2 grams per day.”

Many doctors advise against self-medicating with niacin and suggest that in many cases supplementation isn’t needed. “The water soluble vitamins, such as C and B complex, are much harder to reach toxic levels from over-ingestion, but does this mean we need to procure them from a supplement regularly? In most cases, the answer is no,” said Dr. David Greuner, director and co-founder of NYC Surgical Associates. Most people are able to get plenty of niacin through a healthy diet.

Additional reporting by Jessie Szalay, Live Science contributor.

Additional resources

  • University of Maryland Medical Center: Possible Interactions with Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Mayo Clinic: Evidence of Effective Niacin (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid) and Niacinamide Use
  • University of Michigan: B3

Everything You Need to Know About Niacinamide and What It Can Do For Your Skin

You’ve heard of retinol and hyaluronic acid and vitamin C, but niacinamide is another major player that deserves its own time in the skin-care spotlight. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 (aka niacin), and it offers a laundry list of different benefits that make it a great pick for anyone and everyone, no matter your complexion concern. Ahead, top dermatologists weigh in on why this B vitamin deserves an A+ rating, and share their favorite niacinamide products.

Image zoom Daniel Day/Getty Images/Dermstore/Paula’s Choice

What is niacinamide?

As mentioned, niacinamide a form of vitamin B3, and, like other B vitamins, it plays an important role in ensuring the cells throughout your body function properly. “Vitamin B3 is essential to the process of converting the food you consume into usable energy,” says Sheel Desai Solomon, M.D., a dermatologist in the Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina area. “It also aids your cells in carrying out important chemical reactions.” (Related: Here’s Why B Vitamins Are So Important for Energy.)

Your body doesn’t store niacinamide, so it’s important you get it through your diet; it’s found in many animal products, such as meat and milk, as well in green vegetables and grains. Fun fact: Niacinamide has been shown to be beneficial to the skin both when taken orally and used topically, says Marnie Nussbaum, M.D., NYC-based dermatologist.

So, what are the benefits of niacinamide for skin?

It’s not so much a question of what niacinamide can do for your skin, but more of what it can’t do. The answer: Not much. First and foremost, “niacinamide is a precursor to molecules that allow all cells, including skin cells, to repair damage and neutralize free radicals that can cause skin cancer and the breakdown of collagen and elastin,” says Dr. Nussbaum. Translation: It’s an essential vitamin for keeping your skin strong, healthy, and youthful.

Aside from that preventative benefit, there are many other niacinamide benefits that make it a great ingredient for all kinds of complexion concerns. Dealing with dryness? Niacinamide increases the production of ceramides, which protect your skin barrier and seal in moisture, says Dr. Nussbaum. (Related: How to Boost Your Skin Barrier and Why You Need To)

Have unwanted spots? “Niacinamide inhibits the transfer of pigment to cells, improving discoloration,” explains dermatologist Bradley Bloom, M.D., at Laser & Skin Surgery in New York City. Trying to calm down irritation? It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, says Dr. Bloom. What about if you’re acne-prone? Yep, niacinamide is good for that, too; along with the anti-inflammatory effects, it’s also been shown to decrease oil production and normalizes the lining of the pores, keeping them from getting clogged and enlarged, says Dr. Solomon. (Related: The Best Dark Spot Treatments, According to Dermatologists)

The bottom line: Niacinamide’s long list of benefits make it a good pick for plenty of different skin types or issues, and it’s also one of the best-studied ingredients in the cosmeceutical world, says Dr. Bloom. Plus, unlike many other potent skin-care ingredients, it’s also fairly well-tolerated by most, as long as you use it correctly. (Related: Meet Bakuchiol, the New “It” Anti-Aging Skin-Care Ingredient)

What’s the best way to use niacinamide?

What you mix and match this ingredient with is crucial, as niacinamide can turn too acidic from interacting with other ingredients, breaking down into nicotinic acid and causing irritation, cautions Dr. Bloom. If you’re using any alpha- or beta-hydroxy acids in your skin-care regimen, use them at a different time of day or wait at least 30 minutes in between application, advises Dr. Nussbaum. (Related: The Skin Benefits of Lactic, Malic, Phytic, Tartaric, and Citric Acids.)

The Best Niacinamide Products

Niacinamide pairs well with hydrating ingredients, so it’s a good ingredient to look for in a moisturizer, points out Dr. Solomon. To get the most bang for your buck, look for a niacinamide serum; the lightweight formulas will contain higher concentrations of the active ingredient. Check out seven derm-approved product picks below:

CeraVe PM Face Moisturizer (Buy It, $16, ulta.com): Both Dr. Nussbaum and Dr. Solomon recommend this lightweight moisturizer, which combines soothing niacinamide with barrier-strengthening ceramides.

Alastin Restorative Skin Complex (Buy It, $195, alastin.com): Pricey but worth it, Dr. Bloom calls this product “brilliantly-designed” for its combination of multiple ingredients, including niacinamide, that all work synergistically to combat aging.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Buy It, $6, sephora.com): Got breakouts? Reach for this formula, which, “reduces the appearance of enlarged pores, congestion, and balances the overproduction of oil,” says Dr. Solomon. Dr. Nussbaum also recommends this treatment, which has the added benefit of a very affordable price tag.

SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum (Buy It, $154, dermstore.com): “This is one of my favorite skin-brightening products,” says Dr. Bloom. “It combines some of the most effective brightening ingredients out there, including niacinamide, in a non-irritating formula.”

Skinceuticals Metacell Renewal Vitamin B3 (Buy It, $112, dermstore.com): “This light lotion contains niacinamide to decrease the effects of aging,” says Dr. Nussbaum. Use it twice daily, on your face, neck, and chest.

Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner (Buy It, $21, amazon.com): “I strongly recommend this toner because it gives high-quality hydration, balances the skin, and smooths while still feeling weightless,” says Dr. Solomon.

EltaMD Barrier Renewal Complex (Buy It, $55, dermstore.com): For those who need or prefer a heavy hit of hydration, Dr. Bloom recommends this rich moisturizer, which has the added benefit of niacinamide to reduce any redness or irritation.

  • By Melanie Rud

Niacinamide: 8 reasons why it’s a must have in your beauty regimen.

So many ingredients so little time.

You’d be forgiven for feeling confused when it comes to choosing your skincare. After all, everyone has a point of view and every brand wants you to believe they have the secret to skincare utopia. But, in truth, we can narrow it down to, not hundreds of ingredients but a handful that truly work. One such ingredient is Niacinamide.

What’s Niacinamide?

Niacinamide also referred to as vitamin B3 is an essential nutrient that keeps your body functioning as it should. Your digestive system, nervous system and brain function are all dependent on Niacin (Vitamin B3).

Mostly you’ll get your daily supply from red meat, chicken, turkey and fish like salmon and tuna as well as green leafy vegetables, tomatoes and asparagus and like it or not, many packaged foods are fortified with Niacin, so most of us are not likely to be deficient.

But how does Niacinamide help your skin?

As essential as it is for your body, it may be time to view topical Niacinamide as a permanent ‘must have’ in your beauty regimen, and I’ve got eight excellent reasons to share with you.

8 Reasons why your skin needs Niacinamide.

#1 Boosting the immunity of your skin.

There are cells in your skin known as Langerhans cells. They are responsible for the protection and repair mechanisms of your skin. They are shy little guys, and when you expose your skin to the sun, especially when you burn your skin, they temporarily retreat leaving the skin without its natural immunity against invading microbes or the safeguards against the activity of precancerous lesions.

#2 Improves epidermal barrier performance.

Everything about your skin is better when the epidermal lipid barrier is functioning at its peak. Your lipid barrier helps retain moisture, keeps it hydrated for longer and will protect your skin from the harshness of the environment. Niacinamide increases the production of ceramides (an essential component of your lipid barrier), keeping the skin strong and preventing Trans Epidermal Water Loss (dehydration).

#3 Improves redness and blotchiness in the skin.

With an improved epidermal lipid barrier, the skin’s natural ability to protect itself from external aggressors becomes vastly improved. Over time and with a daily application of a Niacinamide formulation, improvements in skin structure will increase. Redness, blotchiness and sensitivity brought about by exposure to the environment due to a poorly functioning barrier will diminish.

#4 Regulates facial oil flow.

When your skin retains its natural moisture with a well-functioning lipid barrier, the natural oil flow of the skin becomes controlled. So, if you have oily skin, rather than trying to wash it scrupulously away and exacerbate the problem, consider topically applied Niacinamide as an essential factor in getting any excessive oil flow under control.

#5 Protects your skin from infrared light.

Niacinamide protects the skin from the heat of the sun. Along with the damaging effects of UV exposure, the heat of the sun activates free radicals and stimulates an overproduction of pigmented cells, and if your pigmentation is hormonal, then heat is a big problem. Niacinamide protects the skin from heat.

#6 Helps to prevent Hyper-pigmentation.

The transfer of pigment (melanosomes) from your melanocytes to the surrounding skin of your epidermis is known as a tan. However, over time, this activity becomes dysfunctional, and many of us end up with uneven, blotchy pigmentation rather than the golden tan of our youth. If your skin has become susceptible to hyperpigmentation, then Niacinamide will assist in the reduction of uneven pigmentation by slowing down the transfer of melanin to your skin’s epidermis. Including this smart ingredient into any hyper-pigmentation treatment plan is a must do!

#7 Minimises lines and wrinkles.

Niacinamide boosts collagen production. Along with the improvement of the skin’s lipid barrier comes an increase in cell differentiation which contributes to better synthesis and formation of collagen and elastin. Music to my ears!!

#8 Improves dull and sallow skin lacking luminosity.

While many antioxidants prevent damage caused by oxidative stress and AGE’s. As time goes by and with the constant exposure to free radicals and glycation, the skin can appear dull and sallow with a sad loss of radiance. You don’t want that! Niacinamide goes one step further and reverses the visible signs. Niacinamide reduces the negative impact of oxidative stress and improves the skin’s ability to fight back. You want that!

Five brands with a healthy dose of Niacinamide.

From left to right: ASAP – B SUPER COMPLEX | Alpha H Vitamin B with Copper Peptides | Synergie Skin – VITAMIN B | Verso – Hydration Serum with Niacinamide | Rationale – IMMUNOLOGIST Niacinamide Serum

Niacinamide is not just for lightening and brightening the skin.

Many brands recommend the inclusion of Niacinamide for the prevention and treatment of hyperpigmentation, which it does, but it’s so much more than that. It’s essential for anti-ageing and skin health. Everyone, no matter how old or what skin condition will benefit from the long-term use of this scientifically proven ingredient.

How much Niacinamide is enough?

The best formulations will contain at least 10% Niacinamide. Some brands will be forthcoming with this information while others prefer to keep it under wraps. A good indication of how much is in your serum is how far up the list of ingredients Niacinamide appears. It should be close to the top of the list.

When is the best time to apply your Niacinamide Serum to your skin?

Because of the protective nature of Niacinamide, I favour use once a day underneath my moisturiser and sunscreen. However, if your evening serum or cream contains Niacinamide, well then, all the better.

If you’d like to read more about this excellent ingredient, you may also like these articles. 5 Niacinamide Serums Under Review or Niacinamide: Your Plan B.

And now you?

Did you find this article informative? Why not share it with your friends.

Got a question you’d like answered? You can shoot me an email over here. I read every email and usually reply within 24 hours.

See you next time,

Niacinamide: the “brilliant all rounder” that your skin will thank you for

This skin barrier-boosting ingredient comes with the dermatologist’s seal of approval. Here’s why and how to incorporate it into your regime

So-called ‘miracle’ ingredients come and go, but a handful provide skincare benefits that ensure they stand the test of time. One such example is niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3).

Highlighted in our ‘8 anti-ageing ingredients that actually work’ feature as a “brilliant all-rounder” in the skin-boosting stakes, it helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, ageing-associated inflammation and even helps to minimise irritation caused by other ingredients (more on that later though…)

Addressing a range of skin concerns in one fell swoop, we asked cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Dr Sam’s Skincare, Dr Sam Bunting to provide further insight on this hard-working ingredient to help break down its abilities into easy to digest chunks. From how it works on a cellular level to how to incorporate it into your skincare regime, here’s your go-to guide.

How niacinamide works

Niacinamide is particularly beneficial due to its ability to strengthen our skin barrier. What does that mean exactly? Think of your skin barrier as the first line of defence against environmental aggressors, UV, pollution and irritants, but as with most things, it weakens with age. “Niacinamide boosts barrier function by increasing ceramide production,” explains Dr Bunting, to aid better water-retention and overall skin structure.

The key skin concerns niacinamide tackles

As well as its barrier-boosting benefits, niacinamide also serves as an effective blemish-buster too. “It has anti-acne and anti-ageing benefits as it has an anti-inflammatory action,” explains Dr Bunting. “It therefore reduces the papules and pustules seen in acne. Plus, the good news is there’s no risk of antibiotic resistance to it.”

Its prowess isn’t just confined to acne either, with its benefits also extending to uneven skin tone too. “It’s helpful in hyperpigmentation as it reduces the transfer of pigment molecules from melanocytes to keratinocytes,” explains Dr Bunting. Come pimples or pigmentation, it looks like niacinamide has their number.

Who can use niacinamide

Due to its pretty all-encompassing nature, it’s impressively universal in its appeal. “It’s suitable for all ages – from teens through to those with mature skin,” advises Dr Bunting.

Are there any skin types that should steer clear of it? According to Dr Bunting, no. “It’s suitable for even those with sensitive skin,” she says. “It’s a fantastic all-rounder that’s brilliantly well-tolerated so most can benefit from it. It’s also safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.”

How to use niacinamide

“It’s suitable for morning and evening use,” recommends Dr Bunting. “One of my favourite products incorporates it into a sunscreen and given that this is the first anti-ageing step any woman should incorporate, the addition of niacinamide is a great bonus.” Find out more about Dr Bunting’s product pick in the recommendations section below…

How it fits in with other ingredients

Niacinamide’s one of the most versatile ingredients out there. Plus, its role in strengthening the skin barrier also helps reduce risk of irritation caused by other ingredients. “This has the added bonus of increasing tolerance to topical retinoids, so it’s worth starting this before you start a retinoid if you have sensitive skin,” recommends Dr Bunting. “It’s also, therefore, a good way to help improve compliance with retinoids in acne sufferers.”

MORE GLOSS: Retinol & retinoids decoded – the skin experts’ guide

The risks and side-effects of niacinamide

Refreshingly, there are very few red flags to take heed of before incorporating niacinamide into your regime. “It’s very low-irritancy – I’ve not seen any patients have problems using it,” says Dr Bunting.

The best niacinamide products

Dr Bunting’s favourite products:

1) Olay Regenerist 3 Point Super Serum, £31.49

A brand which has long used niacinamide in a whole host of its skincare products, this hydrating pick also helps to address loss of elasticity on the face, neck and decolletage.

Buy online.

2) Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46, £99

Merging suncare with anti-ageing in one product, this oil-free pick appeals to a wide range of different skin types to help calm and protect in equal measure.

Buy online.

Our favourites

1) Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster, £41

A supreme multitasker, this liquid treatment addresses a variety of concerns ranging from large pores to excess oil and uneven skin tone.

Buy online.

2) Garden of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum, £9

This bestseller from Victoria’s Health’s new budget skincare brand, Garden of Wisdom, is small in price, but mighty in its effects. It helps regulate oil production, calms inflammation and boosts ceramide and collagen production plus, its gel-like formulation melts into skin too.

Buy online.

3) Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Ageing Moisturiser SPF30, £14.99

Hydrating, brightening and protective, this SPF moisturiser leaves skin smoother, suppler and softer.

Buy online.

4) Alpha H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide Serum, £39

Combining strengthening niacinamide with elasticity-boosting copper peptides, omega-3 and 6 rich chia seed and antioxidant ferulic acid, this moisture-building skin treatment has been specifically formulated to help out dehydrated, dull and stressed skin types in particular.

Buy online.

5) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

A budget beauty oil-free pick that’s formulated for the congestion-prone, its high concentration of niacinamide at a high street price looks after both blemishes and bank balances alike.

Buy online.

6) Codage Peeling Lotion, £60

Formulated with a blend of exfoliating ingredients, this post-cleanse solution contains 7.2% lactic acid, 6% glycolic acid, 4.4% fruit acids and 8% PHA gluconolactone, to remove dead and damaged cells from the surface of the skin. This blend also helps to stimulate skin’s natural cell-shedding processes while clarifying and decongesting the pores for a more balanced complexion.

Buy it online

7) Is Clinical Poly-Vitamin Serum, £50

This serum is infused with a combination of essential vitamins, barrier supporting niacinamide and antioxidants, to regenerate skin. Safe for use post-procedure or during radiotherapy and chemotherapy, this serum promises to help boost collagen production while improving skin’s overall feel, restoring a healthier appearance over time. Suitable for dry, compromised and sensitive skin types.

Buy it online

For more skincare advice from Dr Bunting, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Follow Ayesha on Twitter and Instagram.

There are so many hyped-up skincare ingredients fighting for our affections these days, yet few are as widely loved as niacinamide.

Retinol? It’s great – but not everyone needs it. (If you’re too young to remember Friends the first time around, your skin’s too young for retinol.) Alpha Hydroxy Acids? They’re the dream when it comes to exfoliation, but finding the right one for your skin type can be a minefield.

That’s the secret to niacinamide’s success: it’s an all-round crowd-pleaser. This wonder vitamin is suitable for pretty much every skin type, and its benefits are easily reaped. What’s more, you don’t need to be a cosmetics chemist to understand how to use it correctly.

So stay with us for a deep-dive into everything you need to know about niacinamide – what is it, what it’ll do for you, and where to find it.

What is niacinamide?

‘Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3’, explains Andrea Pfeffer, founder of Pfeffer Sal. ‘Vitamins from this group are particularly famous for their soothing and healing properties.’

We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article

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What does niacinamide do for the skin?

Niacinamide is a bit of a show-off when it comes to benefits for our skin – from boosting hydration to fading hyper-pigmentation, there’s not much it doesn’t claim to help with.

But is it all too good to be true? According to Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice, this is one case where we really should believe the hype. ‘Topically, niacinamide has so many ways to help skin it’s mind boggling,’ she says.

‘Extensive research has shown niacinamide works to protect skin from environmental damage and also helps skin make more collagen and hyaluronic acid. It improves hydration, reduces signs of ageing, diminishes enlarged pores, and significantly lessens skin discolouration’, she says.

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Indeed, the studies do stack up in niacinamide’s favour. It has been shown to reduce inflammation in moderate acne just as well as stronger, prescription-only treatments, and research has shown it can limit the overproduction of sebum in oily skin types. What’s more, it has even been proven to fade hyperpigmentation.

‘Niacinamide is the ultimate multitasker,’ agrees Pfeffer. In fact, it’s one of the only skin boosters that she recommends to almost all of her clients (along with hydration hero hyaluronic acid and, of course, SPF). ‘It’s compatible with many other actives so you can incorporate it into your routine easily without worrying about adverse reactions.’ she explains.

So, how can one ingredient be such a catch-all skin hero? According to Begoun, there are a number of factors. ‘One way is because of its powerful antioxidant properties. Another is how niacinamide helps generate other important substances in skin. Even more notable is how it works as a “cell-communicating ingredient”. This means niacinamide can “talk” to all kinds of cells in skin, telling them to make better, healthier, younger acting cells.’

Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster Paula’s Choice lookfantastic.com £30.00

Mix a few drops of this concentrated booster into your moisturiser (or serum) for extra protection throughout the day.

Super Pure Glossier glossier.com US$28.00

Niacinamide is great on its own, but when you pair it with zinc you’ve got a serious power-couple situation. This no-messing serum is especially good for balancing overly oily skin.

Vitamin B Alpha-H cultbeauty.co.uk £39.00

It’s a good thing that this lightweight serum is blue in colour – that means the copper tripeptide inside is potent. Use it daily for proper protection from damaging pollution.

Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% The Ordinary cultbeauty.co.uk £5.00

This is the best budget niacinamide serum out there – it’s potent, easily absorbed, and blended with zinc for extra blemish-busting powers.

Do we actually need niacinamide skincare?

Our bodies don’t naturally produce niacinamide, but we can get it via our diets (providing we’re eating a healthy, varied range of foods).

So, do we need to be supplementing our skin with it?

As Begoun explains, topical skincare can deliver a beneficial boost that could be the difference between good skin and great skin. ‘Niacin is found in foods such as grains, fish, meat, and beans and converts to niacinamide when eaten. For the body, oral intake of niacin has been shown to have incredible benefits for health, and for skin, topical niacinamide is supported by long-standing research showing a wide range of remarkable benefits for all skin types and all ages,’ she confirms.

Which skin types will benefit from niacinamide?

Both Pfeffer and Begoun agree that everyone can benefit from a dose of niacinimide in their skincare routine. However, your skin type will determine which kind of product you should choose. For oily skin that’s prone to clogged pores, Begoun recommends a water-light serum, and for dry skin an emollient moisturiser or hydrating toner, containing a lower concentration of niacinamide will do the trick.

‘We are all in need of barrier strengthening and repairing, especially those who live or work in urban areas where pollution is higher,’ says Pfeffer. ‘And as an added bonus, it’s also safe to use throughout pregnancy and breastfeeding when hormonal fluctuations can wreak havoc on the skin.’

Acne Deep Cleanse Verso cultbeauty.co.uk £35.00

You can reap the benefits of niacinamide in your cleanser, too. This cult blemish-clearing wash is loaded with salicylic acid, turmeric and niacinamide that all work together to tackle acne flare-ups.

Medik8 Clarity Peptides Medik8 facethefuture.co.uk £38.99

Medik8, the masters of retinol, are pretty good with niacinamide too. This milky, calming serum is one of the fastest-working things you can reach for when blemishes strike. Apply liberally each night for clear skin by the weekend.

Killa Zitsticka cultbeauty.co.uk £27.00

These spot ‘plasters’ deliver a shot of niacinamide deep into the skin, getting right to the root of a breakout.

Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum Murad lookfantastic.com £75.00

This clever serum works insanely quickly on patches of hyperpigmentation. A fortnight of religious use will deliver brighter, more even skin with a healthy glow you can really see.

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“Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 commonly used in skin-care products,” says Joshua Zeichner, board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “It helps brighten the complexion and lighten dark spots. It also helps calm inflammation and supports healthy collagen production.” The best part? He says it’s okay to use for all skin types, including those with very sensitive complexions.

Essentially, niacinamide is a key ingredient to add to your skin-care regimen to multitask in various glow-inducing ways. “Niacinamide or vitamin B3 is a key ingredient to treat age-related skin changes, acne, and skin discoloration,” says Alison Adams-Woodford, LE, from research and development at PCA Skin. “It naturally calms the skin and provides dramatic skin brightening.” Other perks, according to her, include decreased hyperpigmentation, blotchiness, fine lines, and acne, while it improves your skin’s barrier function. On top of that, it moisturizes and gives antioxidant effects. So basically, it does everything and deserves proper real estate in your beauty cabinet ASAP for a healthy, supple complexion.

Your healthy beauty regimen should also include fruit skin care, and—of course—a moisturizing sunscreen to wear year-round.

Everything you need to know about using niacinamide on your skin

Anyone who is even slightly interested in health and nutrition is no stranger to the importance of vitamin B3. The B-complex vitamin, one of eight, is an essential nutrient that can be found in foods such as tuna, salmon and avocado, to name just a few. And while it’s certainly crucial for things like maintaining metabolism and nervous system health, the topical form of vitamin B3, niacinamide, boasts a wide array of skincare benefits.

“Niacinamide is a version of water-soluble vitamin B3 with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Monica Li, a dermatologist and clinical instructor in the Department of Dermatology & Skin Science at the University of British Columbia. While the compound may be a recent discovery for many skincare enthusiasts, its benefits have been studied extensively.

Applied topically, “niacinamide can improve skin texture and strengthen the protective barrier function of the skin, which then helps to reduce inflammation — often appearing as dry, irritated or flaky skin. It does so by increasing natural lipids found on the skin surface and reducing water loss,” Dr. Li explains. Niacinamide can also help reduce unwanted pigmentation and increase cell turnover, improving the look of aging skin, she adds.

Just like the benefits of vitamin B3 in a diet, the benefits of topical niacinamide are extensive and varied. This may explain the origin of the idea that eating vitamin B3-rich foods may have a similarly skin-clearing effect. But it’s not that simple.

“Taking a vitamin — or an ingredient in general — orally, rather than applying it on the skin, will give you different effects,” says Dr. Li. “Our digestive system absorbs vitamin B3 and integrates it into our internal machinery. Topical application of niacinamide will have more directed benefits on the skin.”

If you’re looking to add niacinamide into your skincare regimen, keep potency in mind. Dr. Li explains that “the scientific literature suggests 5% as optimal for achieving desired effects” and she goes further to caution that higher concentrations may cause skin irritation.

Though all skin types can benefit from niacinamide, Dr. Li warns that “combining niacinamide with vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, makes niacin, and may cause skin irritation and transient flushing.” For this reason, Dr. Li advises that those with particularly with sensitive skin or who have rosacea should be especially cautious when combining niacinamide with other products that may include vitamin C. “For those with sensitive skin who want to use in their skincare routine, consider applying one ingredient in the morning and one at night. Or use on alternating days.”

Here are seven popular skincare products that feature niacinamide as a key ingredient.

Instagram’s favourite beauty brand created this water-gel formula back in 2016 to soothe red, stressed out skin.

Super Pure, $35, glossier.com

Featuring a high concentration of niacinamide — 10 per cent, as opposed to the two to five per cent Dr. Li cited as most common concentrations — The Ordinary’s ultra affordable serum is one of the company’s most beloved products.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $5.90, sephora.com

Another 10 per cent niacinamide formula, this Paula’s Choice booster is meant to be added to a moisturizer for an extra calming effect on skin.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, $61.48, nordstrom.com

Skinceuticals’ luxe vitamin B3 emulsion is formulated to effectively target blotchy skin while still being hydrating.

Metacell Renewal B3, $125, skinceuticals.ca

Known for being gentle and suitable for most skin types, CeraVe’s cult-favourite moisturizer features niacinamide, ceramides and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate skin.

CeraVe PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion, $17.99 (on sale for $13.99), shoppersdrugmart.ca

This workhorse gel serum targets wrinkles by hydrating skin and encouraging cell turnover via gentle exfoliation.

Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum, $34.48 (on sale for $31.48), walmart.ca

The anti-pollution product is recommended for anyone who experiences environmental skin stressors, since Niacinamide helps to calm the skin down after being exposed to external triggers.

Lait VIP O2, $69.25, phsantebeaute.com

Souzan Michael is a Toronto-based writer and editor with a deep, undying love of astrology, watermelon and golden retrievers. Follow her on Instagram @suziemichael_.

Benefits of niacinamide for skin

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