Skin care has evolved through the decades with new formulations constantly hitting the shelves of drugstores and beauty stores alike. With all this newness there are a few staple ingredients that almost always find their way on the formula list. Hyaluronic acid, squalene, ceramides and niacinamide are a few of these ingredients with the latter getting a lot of buzz recently – and for good reasons.
Niacinamide is a well-known skin care ingredient that’s most likely already infused in one of your serums, moisturizers, or even cleansers. Its popularity isn’t new and niacinamide has been soothing skin and restoring moisture of the skin for generations.
To get down to all the details of niacinamide, we spoke with board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant, Michelle Henry, MD FAAD who shares the benefits of niacinamide and why everyone — no matter the skin type or skin concern — can use this hero ingredient. Below, learn more about the benefits of niacinamide for skin, when to use niacinamide in a skin care routine and the niacinamide-infused products you’ll want to add to your regimen.
What Is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, according to Dr. Henry. She shares that niacinamide is a derivative of niacin, a vitamin that is essential to the body (but not naturally found in the body) to produce energy. In skin care, niacinamide is used topically to repair the barrier of the skin, brighten the skin, and reduce the activity of sebum according to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
What are the Benefits of Using Niacinamide on Your Skin?
Dr. Henry shares that niacinamide is always going to give you good benefits. “It’s soothing, it reduces [hyper]pigmentation,” she says. “And if you have acneic [acne-prone] skin, it may help with that,” Dr. Henry continues. All skin types can benefit from using niacinamide, including those with sensitive skin and aging skin. It helps with hyperpigmentation, dark spots, sebum (oil) production, and inflamed skin for a calmer more radiant complexion. More on the specific benefits of niacinamide for skin below.
Does Niacinamide Help With Hyperpigmentation?
Niacinamide has been studied on the skin as a lightening agent to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation such as dark spots and acne scars. After eight weeks of continued use, the results confirmed that topical niacinamide is effective in fading hyperpigmentation on the skin. For targeted concerns like hyperpigmentation, Dr. Henry confirms that you’ll want to use a more concentrated formulation like a niacinamide serum.
Does Niacinamide Reduce Inflammation?
If you have sensitive skin that is prone to rosacea and eczema, then you may benefit from using niacinamide for its anti-inflammatory properties. When used as a topical, this ingredient can calm irritated skin and reduce any flush redness brought on by pre-existing skin concerns, or when using harsher acids like retinol. Note: Retinol tends to irritate sensitive skin and according to the Cleveland Clinic, layering niacinamide on top can help combat that irritation.
Is Niacinamide Good for Oily Skin?
Niacinamide can help control sebum production that occurs more regularly in oily skin, giving off that slick sheen on the face. “It may be a bit mattifying,” Dr. Henry says, which makes this a game-changer for those with acne-prone or oily skin who need help minimizing the excessive oil that can lead to breakouts. Acne-prone skin doesn’t always mean that you have oily skin, but those are two skin concerns that closely align with each other since excessive oil on the skin can lead to acne.
Per the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, niacinamide has been found to significantly minimize the appearance of pore size, reduce acne and repair rough skin textures. The latter skin benefit shows that niacinamide is just as effective on dry skin as it is on oily skin.
Is Niacinamide Good for Dry Skin?
For dehydrated skin or those with a dry skin type, niacinamide comes to the rescue to restore the barrier of the skin for a more healthy, nourished appearance. With daily use, this topical vitamin can help keep your skin plump and well-hydrated which can help soften lines and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. When used topically, niacinamide has been proven — per the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) — to limit water loss in the skin, which can lead to dehydration.
When Should You Use Niacinamide in Your Skin Care Routine?
You can use niacinamide twice daily, confirms Dr. Henry. She says, “You could use it at any time — day or night. We see it in all sorts of skin care because it’s soothing.” Keep in mind that if you want certain benefits like reducing the appearance of dark spots, you’ll want to focus on the specific formulation of the niacinamide rather than when you use the ingredient. As a reminder, Dr. Henry recommends using a concentrated serum for concerns like this. If you’re using it to soothe your skin from irritation and smooth its appearance, Dr. Henry says you can use niacinamide moisturizer.
How Long Does Niacinamide Take to Work?
According to the NCBI, once you’ve introduced niacinamide into your skin care regimen you’ll be able to see results of smoother and less textured skin in eight to twelve weeks — depending on the individual niacinamide product. As with any skin care ingredient, you’ll want to consistently use niacinamide to reap its benefits. You’ll know niacinamide is working when your skin starts to improve physically — with the reduction of dark spots and dry patches as well as smoother and refined skin texture.
3 Niacinamide Products to Add To Your Skin Care Regimen
To minimize dark spots (a form of hyperpigmentation) apply three to four drops of this serum to your face after cleansing, and always follow up with a moisturizer and broad-spectrum SPF. This serum has a combination of amino sulfonic and ferulic acid that gently exfoliates and brightens skin while niacinamide helps reduce the appearance of dark spots, acne scars and sun spots.
This moisturizer is formulated with collagen peptides and niacinamide to help retighten and rehydrate skin for added firmness and bounce. Apply this moisturizer during the day to get the added benefits of sun protection with the formulation that includes broad spectrum SPF 30. Skin feels rehydrated after one use, and after four weeks of continuous application (once during the day), the skin will feel stronger and denser and look more radiant.
If you have sensitive skin (or just don’t want extra layers in your skin care routine), try using a balanced formulation like this nighttime moisturizer, that blends the two powerful ingredients precisely. This night cream helps visibly reduce wrinkles while resurfacing skin for a more even skin tone and texture.
Photographer: Ted Cavanaugh