Niacinamide, also commonly known as Vitamin B3 or nicotinamide, is a powerful antioxidant used since the 1970s. It is an essential water-soluble vitamin that can be ingested or applied topically. It is necessary for the proper healthy function of the body and can treat many different skin conditions. Recently, it has gained favor as an anti-aging treatment and has become one of the most sought-after ingredients on the market.

How can niacinamide help my skin?

Niacinamide is a necessary ingredient and must-have for your skincare routine because it can nourish, calm, and protect your skin.

  1. Dryness – Niacinamide decreases skin’s water loss to prevent the skin from drying out. Preserving the skin’s moisture can help all types stay hydrated, especially sensitive and dry skin types. Since the skin’s barrier function is impaired in sensitive skin, moisture escapes and leads to dehydrated, dry skin. Niacinamide can help sensitive skin by preventing moisture loss and correcting the underlying problem.
  2. Redness – Niacinamide increases the production of lipids, such as ceramides, and proteins, such as keratin, to enhance the skin’s protective barrier function. This enhanced barrier function will prevent irritants from penetrating the skin and causing inflammation and redness in the skin. This decreased inflammation helps people with sensitive skin (eczema) and rosacea.
  3. Hyperpigmentation – Niacinamide inhibits pigment production to reduce the appearance of brown spots and discolorations on the skin.
  4. Rough texture and wrinkles – Niacinamide increases the production of collagen, which helps smooth the skin and reduce the signs of wrinkles and roughness.
  5. Prevent photocarcinogenesis – Niacinamide may be able to inhibit the sun’s UV radiation from causing skin cancers by repairing DNA.
  6. Antioxidant – Niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals produced by the sun and eliminates them. Free radicals will damage collagen and elastin, which causes wrinkles and sagging skin.  
  7. Decrease sebum production – Niacinamide decreases sebum (oil) production in the skin. This helps minimize pore size and improve the texture of the skin. It also helps treat acne.
How can niacinamide help my skin

Does topical niacinamide have side effects?

Niacinamide has a low risk of side effects and is generally well-tolerated. It is usually safe to use every day, even twice a day. If you do experience irritation, use it less frequently. Sometimes it takes time to build up to using products every day. You can start using it every other night for two weeks to get your skin accustomed to it. Always start with the lowest concentration (2%) and slowly build up (10%). If you are concerned because you have sensitive skin, try a small test spot first on your wrist to see how your skin will tolerate it.

How do I use niacinamide?

Niacinamide is in many products, such as moisturizers, anti-aging serums or creams, eye creams, masks, and cleansers. Serums are the best choice because they tend to absorb better. Niacinamide is often combined with other anti-aging ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C or E, AHA (glycolic acid), and retinoids. You can even find it in stand-alone creams or serums.

Can I combine niacinamide with other products?

Combination products work best to treat some skin problems.  

  • If you want to treat hyperpigmentation, select a product that combines niacinamide with kojic acid or licorice.  
  • If you are treating acne, look for a product with niacinamide and retinoids.   
  • If you are looking for a powerful antioxidant serum, choose one with a combination of antioxidants, such as vitamin C and niacinamide.  
  • If you are looking for a superpotent moisturizer, select a product with niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

When do I apply niacinamide in my skincare routine?

When do I apply niacinamide in my skincare routine

It is best to apply niacinamide after cleansing, exfoliating, and toning the skin. This will give you a clean base to apply niacinamide to so it has maximal penetration. You want to give it time to penetrate, so wait a few minutes before applying your sunscreen. If you do not layer products in the correct order and wait a few minutes between each product, you will not get the best results. Here is an example of the order to apply your products:

  1. Cleanser
  2. Exfoliator
  3. Toner
  4. Serum with niacinamide
  5. Eye cream
  6. Moisturizing cream
  7. Sunscreen

How long does niacinamide take to work?

It can take several weeks of consistent use to see visible results from using niacinamide. Some start to see the benefits in 2 weeks. Like most products, you must be patient and use them consistently to get the benefits.

Conclusion

Niacinamide is a critical ingredient in everyone’s skincare routine because it can fix many skin problems. It has proven skin benefits and is easy to use. It is also one of the safest and easiest ingredients for every skin type to tolerate. Niacinamide is frequently combined with other necessary skincare ingredients. These combination products give you the biggest bang for your buck. If you are unsure what product to choose or how to use it, always consult with your doctor.

Dr. Jennifer Trent

Dr. Jennifer Trent is a world-recognized dermatologist who has published over 40 articles in peer-reviewed journals and six chapters in various dermatologic textbooks on surgery and wound care. She also co-authored a book on dermatologic diseases and therapy, published by McGraw-Hill Co., Inc. Dr. Trent now writes for multiple digital and print publications and also consults and does editorial work.

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