“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’s why niacinamide is a must have:
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”.
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 later it will 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.
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.
Niacinamide can soothe rosacea
Rosacea is an annoying condition with many symptoms: skin redness, dryness, sensitivity and inflammation. They 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
Niacinamide has skin-lightening properties
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.
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.
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.
What Are The Best Products With Niacinamide?
- Nia24 Skin Strengthening Complex ($93.00): niacinamide + ceramides. Available at Skinstore.
- Paula’s Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster ($42.00): niacinamide + vitamin C. Can mix it with your fave serum or moisturiser. Available at Nordstrom and Paula’s Choice.
- The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.00): niacinamide + zinc. Best for oily skin. Available at Asos and Cult Beauty.
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.
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