When you think of major skin care ingredients, your mind probably drifts to vitamin C, retinol or niacinamide. The latter, a form of vitamin B3, is rising among the popularity ranks because it does so much good for the skin (more on that later), and is typically well tolerated by most, per the Journal of Pharmacological and Biophysical Research If you’re not using niacinamide in your routine, whether be in the form of a serum, moisturizer or treatment to soothe the skin and fade dark spots, perhaps you should consider this your sign to start.
We tapped Michelle Henry, MD FAAD, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant to answer some of the most common questions about niacinamide. Below, find an all-encompassing guide on this effective and necessary vitamin, including how to apply niacinamide, how to pronounce it, what it is used for and so much more.
What Is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. According to the National Institute of Health, niacin is the generic name for nicotinic acid, nicotinamide and niacinamide. “Niacin and niacinamide are just derivatives of each other,” Dr. Henry adds.
Why Is Niacinamide Good for Skin?
Niacinamide is good for skin because it’s a multi-use ingredient per the Cleveland Clinic. Further, they report that niacinamide is beneficial for boosting hydration, calming redness, reducing the appearance of pores, fading dark spots and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.
“Niacinamide is super well tolerated,” Dr. Henry adds. “It's always going to give you good benefits because it's soothing and it reduces pigment. If you have acneic skin, it may help with that, too.” Because of this, niacinamide tends to be a suitable choice to address a number of different skin concerns and for all skin types.
Does Niacinamide Help With Dark Spots and Hyperpigmentation?
In a clinical trial by the British Journal of Dermatology, topical niacinamide was found to decrease dark spots and increase skin lightness after four weeks of consistent use. Dark spots, whether it be from post-acne scars or age spots, can appear all over the skin and body. Fading these spots are tough, but including daily SPF, retinol, alpha hydroxy acid and niacinamide treatments into your skin care routine can help to fade their appearance. The nice thing about niacinamide in comparison to these other brightening agents is that niacinamide tends to be the most well tolerated out of three, per the Cleveland Clinic.
Where Does Niacinamide Come From?
Niacinamide is a water-soluble derivative of vitamin B3 or niacin. Vitamin B3 is found in many different foods, proteins and grains.
In skin care products, niacinamide helps maintain skin health while addressing common concerns, such as dark spots, skin flushing (redness) and excess oils.
With all this vitamin B3 talk, if you’re wondering how to pronounce niacinamide, you’re not alone. The good news — it’s pronounced just as it looks, the phonetic spelling is: NYE-a-sin-a-mide.
Can You Use Niacinamide Every Day?
According to Dr. Henry, niacinamide can be used twice a day. This gives it an edge amongst other skin care ingredients, such as retinol and acids, that can be used once a day at most, but often every few days. Always defer to the packaging on your skin care products to determine the proper usage. Formulas vary from brand to brand and product to product so there isn’t a standard set of guidelines that can provide a definitive answer.
While niacinamide tends to be well-tolerated among many, if you experience any signs of irritation or itchiness, cease use immediately. As a good reminder, always consult with your board-ceritfied dermatologist before adding new products or ingredients to your skin care routine.
Another thing to note is that niacinamide can typically be used by pregnant women, but always consult with your OB/GYN, first. “Niacinamide is vitamin B3, and we eat that all the time,” Dr. Henry says. “It’s one of those ingredients we typically can use during pregnancy.”
How to Apply Niacinamide
How to Apply a Niacinamide Serum
Step 1. Cleanse the Skin
Use a gentle cream cleanser, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser, to remove all traces of makeup, dirt and oils.
Step 2. Apply Facial Serums
Always apply your skin care products from thinnest to thickest consistency. After cleansing, apply your niacinamide serum, using your palms to gently pat it into the skin.
Step 3. Follow up With Eye Cream
After you’ve layered on your serums from thinnest to thickest consistency, then you can apply eye cream. The L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid + 1% Caffeine Eye Serum boasts a lightweight finish and contains hyaluronic acid and caffeine to hydrate and plump the under-eyes.
Step 4. Apply Moisturizer
After eye cream comes moisturizer, and it’s a must to seal in hydration. We suggest a lightweight formula, like the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives Micro Hyaluronic Acid + Ceramides Line-Plumping Water Cream. If you’re doing your day time routine, follow up with the L’Oréal Paris Bright Reveal Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion before you apply makeup.
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How to Apply a Niacinamide Moisturizer
Step 1. Cleanse
Always start with a clean base before applying your skin care. The aforementioned Revitalift Radiant Smoothing Cream Cleanser is a great option to remove all traces of makeup, dirt and oils.
Step 2. Apply Serums
Apply your facial serums from thinnest to thickest consistency. If you’re looking for an effective formula that you can use daily, opt for a gentle, hydrating serum such as the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum.
Step 3. Apply Eye Cream
Next apply eye cream. This delicate area of skin is prone to fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin so it’s not a step you want to skip.
Step 4. Layer Moisturizer With Niacinamide
Take one pump of moisturizer and gently massage it onto your face with your fingertips. Then, take another pump and gently massage it onto your neck and décollete.
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What Can You Use With Niacinamide?
As we mentioned, niacinamide can fit into your skin care routine in a couple of ways. Here are two products with niacinamide to consider, and how you can use them in your routine.
This facial serum cocktails niacinamide to visibly reduce the appearance of pesky dark spots and amino sulfonic acid to gently exfoliate and brighten. It reveals fresher looking skin post-application and after just two weeks, skin looks clearer and radiant. Furthermore, it boasts a comfortable, lightweight finish that is suitable for all skin types, and it doesn’t leave behind a sticky or greasy residue.
How to use it: Apply three to four drops to clean skin. Follow up with moisturizer and the Bright Reveal SPF 50 Daily UV Lotion in the morning to protect skin.
Formulated with potent retinol and soothing niacinamide, this effective night cream is bundled with gentle ingredients to counteract the drying effects of retinol. It’s a great choice for retinol newbies, and the inclusion of niacinamide helps to brighten the skin for overall glow.
How to use it: Twice a week, apply one pump of the moisturizer onto clean skin at night. As your skin shows it can tolerate it, build up use each week until you can use it daily.
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Photo Credit: Courtesy of L’Oréal Paris