The Skin Benefits of Niacinamide: The Overachiever of Ingredients
If there’s one do-it-all ingredient taking the skincare industry by storm that can tackle acne, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, sun damage and oxidative stress, it’s niacinamide. Do we have your attention now? Good. It’s not everyday a ingredients captures our attention so thoroughly but niacinamide’s versatility and compatibility with just about everyone and everything is earning it high praise for the hallowed halls of this-stuff-actual-works miracles. Keep listening (in the form of reading) for insight into this ingredients bright future in your skincare routine.
Swear You’ll Wear Your Vitamin B
Niacinamide is the energy awakening your skin’s best self
Niacinamide is one of two forms of vitamin B3 (the other is nicotinic acid, or niacin). Vitamin B3 is one of eight B vitamins that play the crucial role in boosting cellular metabolism by helping cells convert food into energy. Because B vitamins are water-soluble, they’re easy for our bodies to absorb and put to work, but we don’t make our own B3 — we have to get from other sources, usually our food. (1)
But niacinamide, the active form of B3, is also absorbable through our skin — which means its DAN-repairing, cell-regenerating, sun-defying benefits are just a slather away. Because niacinamide works seamlessly with skin’s natural substance and structure, its cell-level wake-up-call effectively stabilizes the skin barrier, increases protein synthesis and even disrupts the UV-fueled process that leads to hyperpigmentation. (2, 3)
The Holy Book of Skin Benefits
Here are all the common Q&A's on niacinamide for skin
Q: Can Niacinamide Help Clear Acne & Rosacea?
Whether taken orally or applied topically, several studies confirm that niacinamide has antimicrobial properties and can effectively treat moderate acne vulgaris or help soothe rosacea. The sweet-spot for concentration in topical formulas hovers around 4% — more than that might be putting sensitive skin outside of its comfort zone. Unlike other antimicrobials used to treat acne, like clindamycin, niacinamide doesn’t come with the usual emergence of resistant microorganisms, making it useful for long term treatments. (4, 5, 6, 7)
Q: Is Niacinamide an Anti Inflammatory?
Hand-in-hand with anti-acne, niacinamide has been shown to reduce redness and irritation. This is particularly good news for anyone whose chronic inflammation has led them to chronic steroid or antibiotic treatments, which can backfire in the long run if immunosuppression or bacterial resistance develop, not to mention sensitivity to the sun. Cue, niacinamide, the long term anti-inflammatory alternative with an impressively short list of potential side effects. (8, 9)
Q: Can Niacinamide Prevent Skin Cancer?
It’s too far of a stretch to say that niacinamide prevents melanoma, the most dangerous and deadly form of skin cancer. However, it does enhance DNA-repair in UV-damaged cells which makes it an effective answer to photoaging. But niacinamide does put up a good fight against UV radiation itself. UV radiation leads to skin cancer by suppressing skin’s key defense mechanism, called cutaneous immunity. Niacinamide has immune-protective qualities that help prevent such UV-induced damage, giving it a promising future in the exploration of skin cancer prevention. (10, 11, 12)
Q: Can Niacnimaide Help Boost Collagen Production?
In case you need a refresher, proteins are the building blocks of your skin’s barrier. Without them, moisture would be a figment of your imagination and firmness wishful thinking. Thanks to its energizing work at the cellular level, niacinamide helps bolster keratin, the protein that keeps skin firm; collagen; the protein that gives skin its strength and smoothness; and the lipid barrier overall, which is responsible for keeping moisture in. (13, 14, 15)
Q: Can Niacinamide Lighten Dark Spots On Skin?
At higher concentrations, niacinamide is proving to be a comparatively gentle and more tolerated alternative for treating hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Unlike “bleaching” (please, stay away) or skin-lightening products, niacinamide works by inhibiting the transfer of melanosomes, the key component in melanogenesis...which is the fancy way of saying skin-darkening due to melanin production. (16, 17, 18)
Can Niacnimaide Prevent Antioxidative Stress?
Niacinamide is a component of the coenzymes NADH and NADPH, which act as direct antioxidants at the cellular level by protecting cell membranes from free radical destruction. That all sounds really dramatic, but the point is, niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant — something our skin can’t get enough of in polluted, free radical-ridden world. (19, 20)
Q: Can Niacinamide Help Prevent Aging Skin?
Of course, niacinamide isn’t going to reverse aging. Science hasn’t figured out how to wind that clock back yet. But because of everything niacinamide does do for your skin — the UV-damage control, water loss prevention, protein revival — this miracle worker goes a long way to improving skin’s surface structure, with in turn improves its texture and appearance by smoothing wrinkles and restoring hydration. (21)
But, Who Benefits From the Niacinamide Revelation?
This is truly a gospel for everyone...with a caveat…
Generally speaking, everyone of all skin types, colors, creeds and moods is going to find something to love with niacinamide. And it’s really, really hard to go overboard with it since our bodies are used to expelling (read: peeing) the excess. But, there is an unlikely minority who have experience increased redness and irritation when using products with niacinamide. There are a few possible reasons for this — an allergic, using too much or, more likely, a reaction to something else in the formula, like a preservative. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to patch test new skincare products before soaking your whole face in them. (22)
Great, I’m Getting It...How Long Before I See Results From Niacinamide?
Easy there, tiger. The best things in life are worth waiting for. Although most research agrees that improvement is noticeable in as little as four weeks, this isn’t clockwork. Niacinamide is working deep in the matrix of the skin’s foundation and seeing the results on the surface might take time. Give it at least eight weeks and be consistent with your use before writing it off. (23)
This is the Best Way to Get the Most Out of Your Niacinamide
According to us, veritable skincare oracles
One of the things we love most about niacinamide besides its remarkable versatility is its compatibility not just with skin moods across the spectrum but with other active ingredients and skincare products. In fact, the right cocktail of actives can make niacinamide work even better. When used with hyaluronic acid, for example, skin can better absorb niacinamide and reap greater rewards. Or when paired with zinc and folic acid, like in this study, it’s an even heavier hitter against acne and inflammation. And if you’re already using big-time actives in your skincare routine like retinol, AHAs and BHA, niacinamide isn’t going interrupt their flow or slow down for them. In short, niacinamide is a true team player that isn’t picky about its teammates or how much or little play time it gets. When you pull it off the bench, it’s going in to play its best MVP-worthy game every time.