This nature-derived vitamin can regulate oil, minimize pores, and more!
While we love all antioxidants – whether we eat or apply them – not all of them work well in topical skin care products. Niacinamide acts as a powerful antioxidant in some of the most sought-after skin care products. So what is it about this antioxidant that makes it so special?
Niacinamide has been a staple in dermatologist offices for years, and its notoriety only seems to be growing. That’s why we’re diving into the basics of how this ingredient functions, and what advanced niacinamide benefits look like for your skin.
Niacinamide in skin care is employed as a topical form of B3: the vitamin responsible for supporting skin, kidney, and brain function.
When it comes to skin specifically, vitamin B3 helps your skin create barriers that retain moisture – that’s why it’s especially suitable for dry, sensitive skin types. In fact, a lack of niacinamide can lead to red, inflamed, and itchy skin, among a host of other conditions. Thankfully, concentrations as low as 2% can help ease sensitive skin, often experienced by those with eczema.
In addition to beneficial antioxidant properties, there are even more reasons to use niacinamide for your daily skin care needs. We’ve lined up our top six below!
#1: Calms Inflammation
Niacinamide exhibits anti-inflammatory activity that can soothe skin conditions like acne and rosacea. In a 2014 study, patients with moderate acne received a topical niacinamide treatment or a topical antibiotic. The results concluded that both treatments worked similarly to reduce acne!
Not only is this antioxidant great for inflammatory skin conditions, it can also help your skin adjust to using retinoids (like retinol and retinoic acid). Many skin types experience irritation or dryness when beginning a retinoid treatment. Try using niacinamide in tandem with your retinoid for the best results.
#2: Regulates Oil Production
Excess oil production is a common bedfellow of large pores and acne. That’s why you might notice that your pores are more visible in your t-zone area, which is where we tend to be oilier. If your face isn’t cleansed or exfoliated properly, sebum can clog your pores. It combines with dead skin cells and bacteria, forming the painful whiteheads or inflamed red pimples we know as acne. Clogged pores can also oxidize, creating blackheads.
A 2006 study suggested that applying 2% niacinamide could benefit the skin by helping to decrease sebum production. You can use a niacinamide serum alongside exfoliating treatments for optimal pore-balancing results.
PRO TIP: Our Niacinamide Boost Treatment is ideal for targeting excess oil, and can be applied as a potent serum treatment day or night. Because the high percentage of hyaluronic acid may feel sticky depending on how much water you add, try applying it at night for best results.
#3: Combats Hyperpigmentation
One of niacinamide’s best-known benefits is its ability to fight dark spots. Whether you’re combating acne scars or sun damage, niacinamide deserves a place in your treatment plan. In fact, it works best alongside other dark spot treatments like certain types of vitamin C.
In terms of balancing the complexion, a 2011 study compared niacinamide and hydroquinone for melasma treatment. 44% of patients saw “good to excellent improvement” with the use of niacinamide over a period of eight weeks. Note: the use of a broad spectrum sunscreen was used in conjunction with use of both treatments.
#4: Provides UV Protection
It’s no secret that antioxidants provide protection against free radicals. UV rays are one of the biggest sources of free radicals for humans, leading to depleted collagen, dark spots and in worst cases, skin cancer.
While niacinamide works well for treating skin damage after it’s happened, it’s naturally effective as a preventative measure, too. It helps your skin “rebuild healthy skin cells” while protecting them from UV rays (and other environmental stressors, like pollution.) Ideally, find an SPF product that includes niacinamide or simply use a niacinamide serum underneath your sunscreen during the day.
#5: Rebuilds Lipid Barrier
We often focus our anti-aging efforts on protecting collagen, rebuilding it, and replenishing moisture – an often neglected factor is ceramides. These essential lipids are responsible for holding skin cells together to create a protective barrier. This ensures that your skin stays moisturized, and won’t lose hydration too quickly.
As we age, these lipids slowly deplete themselves leading to thin, dry skin. Niacinamide benefits the skin barrier by encouraging ceramide production.
#6: Boosts Keratin Production
A complement to lipids, keratin is a protein in our skin barrier. Keratin is actually the primary protein that makes up our nails, hair, and epidermis (the top layer of our skin). Like ceramides, keratin helps form our protective skin barrier and keep skin firm and healthy. As your sun exposure accumulates, the resulting damage can include deteriorating the keratin you already have.
This is where niacinamide comes in, helping your skin stimulate keratin production – leading to a healthier skin barrier all around. This is especially important if you have broken skin or a compromised skin barrier, as is common with those suffering from eczema.
There are plenty of opportunities for including niacinamide in your daily routine. We’ve compiled a list of niacinamide-infused skin care and makeup products, so that you can receive niacinamide benefits day and night!
Since most cleansers stay on for a short period of time, you likely don’t need to opt for a niacinamide cleanser. You’ll get the most bang for your buck if you use it in leave-on treatments, like our Fermented Rice Water Toner. Licorice root extract and fermented rice water join forces with niacinamide for extra brightening power.
In the morning, layer a serum underneath your moisturizer and SPF for concentrated benefits. The Grown Alchemist Detox Serum works great for a daytime fix. Aloe and skin-strengthening pro-vitamin B5 complement niacinamide for a detoxifying mix that hinders fine lines and wrinkles.
In the evening, opt for our Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidants Potent PM Serum. With a soft orange scent and 10% niacinamide, the icing on the cake is the presence of three more antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E, and retinol.
For moisturizer, try out Paula’s Choice Clear Oil-Free Moisturizer. This ultra-light moisturizer hydrates without the heavy ingredients that can clog pores. It’s an especially good pick for collecting those niacinamide benefits if you’re oily and acne-prone.
Don’t skimp on the eye cream; these products are formulated with careful attention to the thin, delicate eye area. Our Retinol PM Eye Cream contains retinol to improve the appearance of crow’s feet and eye wrinkles. But vitamin E and niacinamide take the edge off with soothing anti-inflammatory action. It’s a triple antioxidant punch!
Use your makeup as an opportunity to layer on the free radical protection! ILIA’s new Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40 leaves your skin dewy without weighing it down. But the most important part is that it provides UV-busting niacinamide alongside non-nano zinc oxide sunscreen. It’s an eco-friendly and skin protective makeup formula for daytime perfection.
For concentrated niacinamide benefits in treatment form, one option is our Retinol Restorative Neck Cream. This cream hits two different aspects of anti-aging: prevention and treatment. Niacinamide’s UV-fighting power helps prevent the formation of new creases. Retinol helps reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles on your delicate neck area.
For a daytime niacinamide treatment, the Marie Veronique Pre + Probiotic Daily Mist provides a refreshing layer of hydration. It helps feed the good bacteria on your skin, with a base of green tea leaf infusion and coconut water. Niacinamide and sodium salicylate help calm redness and inflammation, while pre and probiotics promote a healthy skin barrier.
Niacinamide, often measured as niacin in food products, is most commonly found via animal sources. The good news is that there are plenty of vegan-friendly ways to harvest this ingredient!
Some argue that the more potent forms of niacinamide are derived from meat byproducts, fish, eggs, and milk – but we’re not convinced. Spirulina has the highest niacin content of any vegetable, followed by mushrooms. Even beans can be a good source of niacin: specifically adzuki, navy, great northern and kidney beans. Nutritional yeast, green vegetables, and some cereal grains also have measurable niacin content.
Niacinamide benefits all skin types and conditions, and it’s been proven as versatile and non-irritating. So whether you have inflammation, acne, oiliness, dryness, or hyperpigmentation, this antioxidant should be a staple in your routine!
We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.
The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.