Updated: May 7, 2020
Niacinamide is one of those ingredients that everyone is using at the moment. This multi-tasking ingredient is one of The Ordinary’s front-runners, has over 23,000 hashtags on Instagram and has been used in healthcare supplements for many years, but are we entirely sure about what it is? This post explains what Niacinamide does to the skin and its ability to treat certain conditions, where you can find it and the products you must have in your skincare collection.
NIACINAMIDE IS A FORM OF B3
You’ve most likely heard of the vitamin B3 before. It’s essential for good health and if you don’t get enough of it, it can lead to skin disease, digestive problems, fatigue and mood changes.
Humans cannot produce the vitamin B3 but instead source it from oral supplements and foods like eggs, liver, meats, brown rice, avocado and peanuts. Niacinamide is an active, water-soluble form of this essential nutrient.
Avocado and eggs are a nutritious source of the vitamin, B3.
NIACINAMIDE IS EASILY DELIVERED INTO THE SKIN
Today, the skincare community are in constant doubt of whether the product they are using has enough of a particular ingredient to work, and if it can even sink into the skin deep enough to actually make some difference. Good news. Skincare experts have studied the delivery of topical Niacinamide in a range of vehicles from lipsticks and creams, to serums and foundations and all studies seem to highlight how quickly Niacinamide penetrates into the skin and takes effect.
GIF: The Groundlings
IT HELPS IMPROVE ACNE
Studies have indicated that the regular use of niacinamide in skincare can reduce sebum secretions.
This is a very different acne treatment compared to what the industry is used to – Niacinamide reduces the chances of oil and bacteria arriving in the first place, rather than just treating the inflammation when it appears. Niacinamide is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, making it the perfect treatment to fight against acne and oily skin.
IT HELPS IMPROVE HYPERPIGMENTATION
This study shows how Niacinamide treats pigmentation next to hydroquinone. It’s was a revelation in skincare research, considering the tedious inflammation and irritation hydroquinone can cause.
How Niacinamide improves hyperpigmentation in 8 weeks. Image: NCBI
Many others studies have followed to show that niacinamide has great effects in preventing hyperpigmentation as well. This multi-tasking ingredient cleverly interrupts the action of one of the main enzymes that aids the production of melanin. Niacinamide helps thicken the skin’s outer layer which also minimises the chances of photodamage developing.
NIACINAMIDE CAN IMPROVE ROSACEA
Niacinamide is a gentle, exfoliating, antioxidant-promoting wonder and has been proven a safe, effective ingredient even for rosacea and sensitive skin types. It strengthens the skin and helps protect the layers from environmental and UV damage, moisturisers, and prevents unwanted sebum production.
IT REDUCES THE APPEARANCE OF FINE LINES AND WRINKLES
Niacinamide stimulates enzymes that produce fatty acids and proteins which enables a number of processes that slows down the ageing process. As we age, the skin gets lazy and Niacinamide is the perfect ingredient to reboot the skin’s cellular energy.
IT MOISTURISES THE SKIN
Niacinamide boosts ceramide production which helps improve the lipid barrier function, increasin hydration levels. We all need hydration. In our skin, it decreases following exposure to UV light and the environment, bad diet and lifestyle factors, our hydration levels also slow down as we age. When this skin has a healthy, moisturised barrier, it is more likely to repair quicker and injure less.
GIF: Nuun Hydration
NIACINAMIDE CAUSES EXFOLIATION
This beautiful ingredient also encourages cellular turnover in the skin, meaning it causes the skin to gently shed dead skin cells. This factor benefits many – those concerned with post-inflammatory pigmentation and sun damage, uneven skin tone, dull, dehydrated skin types and oily and acne-prone skins.
IT IS SAFE TO USE ON EVERYONE
Niacinamide is an active but stable ingredient with a neutral PH. It isn’t acidic nor potentially irritating like niacinamide’s other skincare siblings; BHAs, AHAs and retinoids. This means anyone can use it.
You would be surprised at how many products contain niacinamide. My personal favourites are:
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
At £5, you can’t go wrong here. It’s quite a strong product in comparison to others I have used, and I find it causes my skin to peel if I use it, more than 2 days in a row. However I cannot deny that I see improvement from using this this product – pores are improved, my skin seems plumper and smoother and I have less redness.
Skinceuticals’ Metacell Renewal B3
This is by far one of my favourite products in the history of favourite products, but unfortunately is too expensive to be using all the time. The pump mechanism allows you to use only what you need – one pump for a full face, and I tend to layer other serums on top. I notice my skin is more hydrated and glow-y after using this – but not too greasy.
Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
This concentrated serum is perfect on pores and dark spots, and one my favourite Niacinamide-based products. One-two drops is all you need and can easily be mixed with a moisturiser or used on its own.
Image: Paula’s choice
Niacinamide is friendly to use on all skin types and is definitely worth a try if you are concerned with appearance of brown spots, acne, PIH, redness or dehydration. You can use Niacinamide every day but should reduce it when the skin begins to peel – and remember, an SPF should always be worn when using skincare products with active ingredients.