“And the award for Most Multitasking Skincare Ingredient goes to…”
Niacinamide deserves it. There’s literally nothing it can’t do.
Need to hydrate skin? Check.
Fight acne? Check.
Fade dark spots? Check.
Soothe redness? Check.
Reduce wrinkles? Check.
It doesn’t matter what you throw at it, niacinamide can handle it. If it’s not in your skincare routine yet, add it immediately.
Here are 5 skincare benefits that make niacinamide a must have for every skin type:
- 1. Niacinamide Hydrates Skin
- 2. Niacinamide Reduces The Appearance Of Wrinkles
- 3. Niacinamide Is An Effective Treatment For Acne
- 4. Niacinamide Can Soothe Rosacea
- 5. Niacinamide Has Skin-Lightening Properties
- Does Niacinamide Have Any Side Effects?
- What Are The Best Products With Niacinamide?
- The Bottom Line
1. Niacinamide Hydrates Skin
Let’s start with the basics. Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, is a great moisturizer. A 2000 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that niacinamide “increased ceramide and free fatty acid [natural emollients] levels in the stratum corneum, and decreased transepidermal water loss in dry skin”.
Translation: niacinamide creates a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. The result? Skin is softer, smoother and less prone to irritations.
Another study discovered that niacinamide is even more moisturising than vaseline. This is very impressive because, despite its bad rep, vaseline is one of the most moisturising substances on this planet. Dr Leslie Baumann says it better: vaseline “is often the gold standard to which other occlusive ingredients are compared”.
Related: 7 Skincare Ingredients With An Undeserved Bad Reputation
Struggling to figure out what to pair Niacinamide with? Download your FREE “How To Layer Actives Like A Pro” cheatsheet to find out what ingredients you can safely match with Niacinamide and how to use them:
2. Niacinamide Reduces The Appearance Of Wrinkles
A 2004 study shows that niacinamide improves skin in many ways, including reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. How? It stimulates collagen production, the protein that keeps skin firm. The more collagen your skin has, the more slowly it’ll sag and wrinkle.
Some of the best collagen boosters, like vitamin C and retinol, can be too harsh for sensitive skin and seriously irritate it. Niacinamide is much gentler. Anyone can use it without problems.
Related: 5 Antiaging Superstars You Should Include In Your Skincare Routine
3. Niacinamide Is An Effective Treatment For Acne
You know what’s the worst thing about acne? After a while, it becomes resistant to the antibiotics you use to treat it. That’s your cue to start the search for a fix all over again.
Niacinamide may just be it. A 1999 study compared a 4% niacinamide gel to a 1% clindamycin gel (a topical antibiotic). Eight weeks later, 82% of patients treated with niacinamide saw an improvement while clindamycin worked well for only 68% of those who used it.
The researchers concluded that “4% nicotinamide gel is of comparable efficacy to 1% clindamycin gel in the treatment of acne vulgaris“. They say it works thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.
The best part? P.Acnes, the bacteria that gives you acne, doesn’t grow resistant to niacinamide.
Related: Adult Acne: What It Is And How To Treat It
4. Niacinamide Can Soothe Rosacea
Rosacea is an annoying condition with many symptoms: skin redness, dryness, sensitivity, and inflammation. The key to keeping it under control is to make sure your skin’s protective barrier remains intact. When it’s a little damaged, skin becomes prone to irritations and dryness.
A 2005 study shows that applying a facial moisturizer with niacinamide twice a day for a month improves skin barrier function, relieving the symptoms of rosacea.
Related: How To Treat Rosacea
5. Niacinamide Has Skin-Lightening Properties
Wait, there’s more.
Have you noticed that niacinamide is in almost every Korean product? There’s a reason for that. Koreans are obsessed with fading dark spots and every trace of hyperpigmentation. It’s a job niacinamide does well.
In 2002, a group of researchers found that moisturizers and sunscreens with 2% and 5% niacinamide “significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness compared with vehicle alone after 4 weeks of use”.
Another 2011 study found that 4% niacinamide is an effective treatment for melasma. But it doesn’t work as well as hydroquinone. Still, niacinamide may be the better choice. Hydroquinone tends to be very harsh on the skin (and cause a permanent bluish discolouration in darker skin tones).
Personally, I recommend anyone who’s dealing with dark spots to try niacinamide first. Only if you find it’s not strong enough for you (and your skin isn’t sensitive), switch to hydroquinone (preferably under medical supervision).
By the way, if you’re wondering how niacinamide fades dark spots, here’s the deal: niacinamide inhibits the transfer of melanosomes (small bubbles within a cell that carry melanin) from melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) to the keratinocytes (the predominant cell type in the outer most layer of the skin) of the epidermis.
Or, put simply, it prevents melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour) from reaching the outer layer of your skin. If it can’t get there, it can’t make it darker.
Related: Should You Use Hydroquinone To Fade Dark Spots?
Does Niacinamide Have Any Side Effects?
Niacinamide is so gentle, everyone can use it safely – under most conditions. Here are the two exceptions:
- Flushing: When paired with Vitamin C, niacinamide can trigger flushing and tingling. This is rare, but if it happens to you, don’t use these two ingredients together (everyone else, you can totally use Niacinamide + Vitamin C together – they DON’T deactivate each other).
- High concentrations: 5-10% Niacinamide is more than enough to do the job. I’ve seen products now boasting 20% concentrations and there’s NO need for that. In skincare, higher % often equals irritation. Be careful!
Related: Can You Use Niacinamide With Vitamin C?
What Are The Best Products With Niacinamide?
- Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): available at Dermstore, Look Fantastic, Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice
- The Inkey List Niacinamide ($6.99): Available at Cult Beauty, and Feel Unique
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.00): (Oily skin only!) available at Asos, Beauty Bay, Cult Beauty and Feel Unique
The Bottom Line
Niacinamide is a skincare superhero. It can literally solve any skincare woe, from wrinkles to acne and dark spots. The best part? Even sensitive skin can use it without problems.
Thank you soooo much for all of your posts! I hope it makes you happy and rich, because you definitely deserve it for all of the help you’re giving us.
So, I got this Paula’s Choice Niacinamide Boost, but I just read above that it contains vitamin C; I thought those couldn’t go together? (I’ve read your posts on that issue.)
For reference, I have combination skin and am currently only using Paula’s Choice (except for extra sunscreen, can’t find a good tinted mineral one), including the RESIST OPTIMAL RESULTS HYDRATING CLEANSER. I do sometimes get flushed and hot on cheeks and/or nose, but that might just be from sitting down after standing for long hours. On my nose and chin, I use 2% BHA liquid to try eradicate 20 years of clogged, stained pores (its only helping a little bit so far, so maybe I need to try it twice a day?). Can I use the 10% Niacinamide on top of that? On the rest of my dry to normal face, I’ve been using the 10% on the brown mottling I got during pregnancy, the Peptide Booster around my eyes and on forehead for my wrinkles, followed by the RESIST OMEGA + COMPLEX serum and then the RESIST BARRIER REPAIR MOISTURIZER normal to dry (with Retinol PM or SPF AM) everywhere except nose and chin. Would you recommend changing this in any way?
I also bought- but am not sure when, or where on my combo problem skin – to add the RESIST DAILY SMOOTHING TREATMENT normal to dry (both the 5% with glycolic acid and the 10%), and the SUPER ANTIOXIDANT CONCENTRATE SERUM with Vit C. Can you please advise me on when and where to add these? I’ve read so many of your posts, and taken notes, but this is all new and confusing. I tried talking with a PC advisor, but the advice to use the 10% AHA multiple times a week resulted in flaky lower cheeks, so I was afraid to follow the further advice of using all of those serums and boosters together.
Sorry for the mega post. Thanks again for all of your advice and your time!
Ann, aww thank you so much! Happy to help!
Yes, you can use niacinamide with both Vitamin C and salicylic acid. You can use the Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with vitamin C both morning and night before the Omega complex serum. As for the Resist Daily Smoothing Treatments, a couple of nights a week after cleansing instead of salicylic acid should be enough for you. Hope this helps.
I just bought a Skinlex 10% niacinamide and I have not start using it. As I read above, niacinamide creates a barrier to prevent water loss, should I use niacinamide before HA serum or after? Also, is niacinamide a humectant? How does niacinamide different from HA serum in terms of hydrating the skin?
Angel, niacinamide works by strengthening the skin’s protective barrier. Buy hyaluronic acid doesn’t need to penetrate skin so you can apply it afterwards.
I’ve seen some post stating that niacinamide and vitamin C serum cannot be used together. However no explanation is given what’s your take on this
Pamela, you CAN use them together. I explain why here: https://www.beautifulwithbrains.com/use-vitamin-c-niacinamide-together/
Revolution Skincare has a serum with 15% niacinamide. Is that fine, or is it only safe to use in a 10% form? It’s called Revolution Skincare 15% Niacinamide Super Serum. My skin has started breaking out horribly, and my usual go to’s are not working. I think my skin is extra sensitized due to cold weather, so my usual BHA serum suddenly stings. That’s why I thought of adding a niacinamide serum.
Sofia, 15% is safe to use too.
Great informative post! Niacinamide is one of my favorite ingredients. Works so well for my skin. Tried out the Ordinary one and loved it. Now I’d like to try out the Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster.
Thanks for sharing <3