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  • Writer's pictureAnjana Rajbhandary

What does niacinamide do?

In 2020, it seemed like just about everyone was adding a vitamin C serum to their skincare routine. But now there is a new vitamin that is promising the glow-worthy benefits of vitamin C — and more.

This brightening and the hydrating ingredient is vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacinamide. If you want to brighten your skin, prevent signs of aging and reduce acne, niacinamide should become a staple in your skincare cabinet.

What is niacinamide?

Vitamin B is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is not made in the body, so you must extract it from either the food you eat or added supplements. Niacinamide is also one of the most important vitamins when it comes to skincare. If you are deficient of niacinamide, it can lead to dermatitis or skin redness — this correlation is how the importance of B3 for skin was first discovered.

Over the decades, scientists have learned the importance of Vitamin B3 in your diet and its additional benefits when used as a topical on your skin. It is a multitasker when it comes to skin, and it helps strengthen the skin barrier and retain moisture. It can also help reduce pigmentation and visibility of pores by evening out the skin tone and reducing fine lines and wrinkles.

Side effects of niacinamide

Most topical niacinamide products are safe to use. If you have preexisting allergies, you should consult a dermatologist before using niacinamide, as it may cause your body to release histamines. If you are prone to allergies and have sensitive skin, it is recommended that you conduct a 24-hour allergy test by applying a small amount on your skin and checking if you get any swelling or redness. If you do, it may not be the right ingredient for you. If you do not have any side effects, it is safe to use on your skin.

What concentration to look for in niacinamide products

Niacinamide is a powerful ingredient for skin brightening, so it is advised to use a lower concentration of 1%-2% of Vitamin B3 to start with. Discontinue use if you experience redness or dermatitis.

When and how to use niacinamide in your skincare routine

Niacinamide mixes well, can be layered with all skincare ingredients and can be used both morning and/or night. It is beneficial to combine niacinamide with other stable antioxidants like Camellia sinensis (green tea) and Tocopherol, as it may lessen skin irritation related to general skin redness. Consistency is key to reap the maximum benefits of niacinamide.

Benefits of niacinamide

Niacinamide is a restorative ingredient and can repair cellular energy and damaged DNA while also reducing the sun's immunosuppressive effects. Overall, niacinamide can build proteins in the skin to prevent environmental damage. Here are some of the benefits of adding niacinamide to your skincare routine:

  • Protects against sun damage: Niacinamide has been shown to rebuild healthy skin cells as it protects against the damage caused by the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.

  • Protects against environmental stressors: Niacinamide can help build skin cells and protect from the sun's UV rays and pollution.

  • Acts as lipid barrier: Niacinamide helps your skin grow a lipid (ceramide) barrier that helps retain moisture.

  • Regulates oil production: It can control the sebaceous glands oil production.

  • Minimizes redness: Niacinamide can help reduce inflammation and redness caused by skin conditions like eczema and rosacea.

  • Minimizes the appearance of pores: It can help keep your skin smooth and moisturized, which can lead to the reduction of pore size.

  • Treats hyperpigmentation: Niacinamide can brighten your skin by lightening dark spots.

  • Reduces lines and wrinkles: A stronger concentration of niacinamide can help reduce sun damage that results in fine lines and wrinkles.

  • Strengthens immunity: Niacinamide can build a protein called keratin that keeps your skin healthy. It also helps in the increase of collagen production.

  • Reduces acne: Since niacinamide helps with inflammation, it can also reduce the formation of various types of inflammatory acne like papules, pustules, nodules and cysts.

Best niacinamide products

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: available at Sephora, Ulta Beauty and SkinStore This high-strength niacinamide brightens skin by reducing skin blemishes and the zinc supports oil production. It is free from parabens and sulphates.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum: available at Sephora and Ulta Beauty This gentle niacinamide serum helps you gain a healthy tone. It also has licorice root to soothe and brighten skin.

Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF40 Foundation: available at goop, Sephora and Credo Beauty This clean, tinted serum comes in 30 shades, provides dewy coverage and has mineral sunscreen to protect you from the sun.

Dermalogica Powerbright Dark Spot Serum: available at Amazon and LovelySkin This powerful niacinamide serum can fade the appearance of dark spots within days. It has the antioxidant ashwagandha to smooth out your skin tone.

Caudalie Vinoperfect Brightening Moisturizer: available at SkinStore, Amazon and LovelySkin This gentle moisturizer has viniferine and niacinamide to brighten your skin and maintain its hydration with hyaluronic acid.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Repair Face Cream With Niacinamide: available at Sephora, Violet Grey and LovelySkin This rich face cream has niacinamide to help with dullness and uneven texture. It also has avocado for more hydration.

Nécessaire The Body Lotion with Niacinamide: available at Sephora and Violet Grey Nécessaire makes this vitamin-rich body moisturizer that can combat dryness. It contains Vitamins A, C and E to nourish your skin from within.

SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 Cream: available at Amazon, LovelySkin and SkinStore This cream has 5% niacinamide to correct dark spots while improving circulation in the skin. It also helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF30: available at Ulta Beauty and Amazon This multitasking moisturizer has ceramides, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to keep your skin hydrated and protected. It is ideal for all skin types and won't leave a chalky residue.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra Eye Cream for Dry Skin: available at Ulta Beauty, SkinStore and LovelySkin This dermatologist-tested eye cream has niacinamide specially made for sensitive skin around the eyes. It also provides soothing comfort to dry skin. It is safe for all skin types.


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