Niacinamide in skincare: Is it worth the hype?March 17, 2022
While niacinamide is not exactly a new emerging innovation in the world of skincare, it has sprung up in a wide range of products and is now touted as the ‘it’ ingredient. Its ease of use and versatility for almost any skin type and skincare issue cannot go unnoticed.
What does niacinamide do? What is niacinamide good for? Does this largely-considered holy grail solution have a place in your skincare regimen? Should you expect smoother, hydrated skin? Here’s what you should know about the industry darling first.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is one of the two major compound forms of vitamin B3. The other is nicotinic acid.
It is a water-soluble B vitamin meaning it’s not stored in the body hence needs to be replenished to reap its benefits. It helps maintain healthy cells in your body.
Niacin vs niacinamide
Your body needs niacin (vitamin B3) to help convert nutrients into energy, exert antioxidant effects, create cholesterol and fats and create and repair DNA.
When taken in greater amounts than what is required by the body, niacin is converted to niacinamide.
Niacinamide works best with the natural substances in your skin when applied topically. This is not to say the oral intake of vitamin B3 (found naturally in certain foods, added to foods or sold as supplements) isn’t effective for your skin.
Scan your ingredient lists and don’t assume that niacin is still the same ingredient despite the lack of “amide.”
What does niacinamide do for skin?
This wonder ingredient keeps popping in some moisturising products and serums. So what’s the secret to its overall success when you smooth it into your skin?
Niacinamide has a multitude of ways it benefits the skin. Ongoing research is only now showing that the cosmetic properties niacinamide has to offer were largely unexplored.
Niacinamide skin benefits are:
- It boosts hydration ability. Niacinamide promotes the production of ceramides and elastin that are both vital in supporting the skin barrier. This leads to a more hydrated, healthy skin that can better handle moisture loss and potential external irritants. Also, it makes other moisturising ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin perform better.
- Acts as an antioxidant, fighting off harmful stressors. It converts into nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which has free-radical fighting antioxidant properties. This protects your skin from cellular damage or even reverses some of it.
- It soothes your skin and limits irritation caused by exfoliants. This helps quell any redness or inflammation, calming down acne spots. Thus it’s an attractive option for people with sensitive skin.
- It treats hyperpigmentation and improves even skin tone. If you have dark patches or freckles from the sun, niacinamide can block excess melanin from showing on the skin surface. Aside from fading the hyperpigmentation, it also keeps new discolourations from appearing. This makes your skin tone look more even.
- It’s shown to reverse and prevent signs of skin ageing. It boosts collagen production to smooth wrinkles and reduces discolourations.
- A clear complexion. It helps balance oil and sebum production, which is beneficial if you have oily skin or are breakout prone.
- Routine usage reduces the appearance of enlarged pores and visibly tightens pores. Niacinamide normalises the pore lining. This plays a role in keeping off debris and oil that may lead to clogs forming and pores stretching to compensate.
- Safe for every skin type and for all ages. Even those who suffer from inflammatory conditions due to its calming properties.
Does niacinamide actually lighten skin?
Clinical studies have shown that a decrease in hyperpigmentation can lead to an increase in skin lightness. The brightening properties of niacinamide promote a balanced and even skin tone.
How to use niacinamide in your skincare routine
Do I need niacinamide in my skincare routine? If you have the skin issues mentioned above, then absolutely. Niacinamide is versatile and addresses many skincare concerns.
It works well with most ingredients. Look for a product that will stay in contact with your skin for plenty of time for maximum absorption. This may be a serum, moisturiser, sunscreen or even overnight cream. Opt for less than 5% concentration; high concentrations can cause skin irritation.
Once you’ve decided on the best niacinamide product to place your trust in, perform a spot test to determine whether your skin agrees with it. Apply a small amount of the product to a small section on your neck or inner wrist before your entire face and watch for any adverse reaction within the first few days.
Mild irritation will likely go away with repeated use but check in with your dermatologist to ensure it’s nothing serious. Niacinamide doesn’t affect the skin in a way that triggers skin purging, a flare-like reaction triggered by active ingredients like retinoids and acids.
Is it safe to use it every day? Niacinamide is well-tolerated, so yes. You can use it one to two times daily depending on the formulation and in combination with other products without issue. Apply regularly for an extended period for long-lasting and visible results.
Can you use niacinamide with vitamin C?
It’s best to apply them alternatively so as not to reduce vitamin C effectiveness—one in the morning and the other at night.
It’s not just hype. Niacinamide can make a difference for various skin concerns and types. To reap maximum benefits, choose wisely a product with scientific studies to back it up and not just appealing ingredient lists. Get the most effective ways to build it into your regimen.
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