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Your Skincare Guide to Niacinamide

June 18, 2021

Your Skincare Guide to Niacinamide

Niacinamide is a relatively new ingredient on the skincare scene. But it's already getting lots of attention as one of the most effective anti-inflammatory ingredients. From softening fine lines and wrinkles to soothing flare-ups, hydrating and fading hyperpigmentation, niacinamide is a multitasking powerhouse.

And it works on all skin types with minimal, if any, side effects. If you’re still not convinced, stick around. We’re breaking down all the reasons to make room on your beauty shelf for niacinamide!

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, is one of two major forms of vitamin B3, or niacin. The other is nicotinic acid. Niacin is essential for the body to convert carbohydrates and fat into energy. It supports skin health, as well as the nervous and digestive systems.

Vitamins naturally occur in food and are needed in very small amounts for various bodily functions such as energy production and making red blood cells. There are 13 vitamins that your body needs to do this. Eight of which make up the B-group vitamins.

The B-group vitamins

There are eight types of vitamin B:

  • thiamin (B1)
  • riboflavin (B2)
  • niacin (B3)
  • pantothenic acid (B5)
  • pyridoxine (B6)
  • biotin (B7)
  • folate or ‘folic acid’ when included in supplements (B9)
  • cyanocobalamin (B12)

The B-group vitamins are found in foods like meat, poultry, nuts, seeds and green vegetables. But they’re water soluble and are very delicate. They are easily destroyed, particularly by cooking and food processing. And the body has a limited capacity to store most of the B-group vitamins.

It’s important to get them regularly as part of your diet. Besides affecting your skin, a vitamin B deficiency can cause fatigue and confusion, anemia or a compromised immune system.

Niacinamide vs. nicotinic acid 

Niacinamide is a specific amide, or chemical structure form of B3. It's not niacin, the acid form of the vitamin. Niacin has an unpleasant side effect of flushing that nicotinamide doesn't have. Be sure to scan your ingredient lists, and don't assume that despite the lack of "amide" it's still the same ingredient.

What does niacinamide do for skin?

When applied topically in a skincare product, niacinamide passes easily through the protective outer layer of skin with significant results at low concentrations.

It addresses multiple concerns at once including dull skin, dry or irritated skin, acne and anti-aging. Niacinamide also protects the skin from environmental damage. Niacinamide is essential to the chemical reactions that your skin cells need to repair damage, propagate, and function normally.

Skincare benefits of niacinamide

  • Boosts your skin’s immunity. Niacinamide helps build keratin, a type of protein that keeps your skin firm and healthy.
  • Supports your skin’s lipid barrier. Niacinamide supports your skin’s lipid barrier, which helps it retain moisture. This is beneficial for all skin types, especially if you have eczema or mature skin.
  • Minimizes redness and blotchiness. Niacinamide reduces inflammation, which may help ease redness from eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  • Minimizes pores. Keeping skin smooth and moisturized may have a secondary benefit — a natural reduction in pore size over time.
  • Regulates oil production and fights blackheads. The benefits of moisture retention aren’t just for those with dry skin types. Niacinamide can also help regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce and prevent your glands from going into overdrive.
  • Protects against sun damage. Niacinamide helps to rebuild healthy skin cells while also protecting them from damage caused by ultraviolet rays. It may even help prevent melanoma.  
  • Fades hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide can be helpful for lightening dark spots.This may be due to increased collagen production.
  • Minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. Research has also found that the same concentration was helpful in reducing some signs of sun damage that come with aging. This includes fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Protects against oxidative stress. Niacinamide helps build cells in the skin while also protecting them from environmental stresses, such as sunlight, pollution, and toxins.
  • Treats and helps prevent breakouts. Niacinamide may be helpful for severe acne, especially inflammatory forms like papules and pustules. Over time, you may see fewer lesions and improved skin texture.

Are there any side effects of niacinamide?

Niacinamide is an essential vitamin that your body needs. Because of this, it is safe for most skin types. It helps reduce sebum production in those with oily skin and helps skin retain moisture in those with dry skin.

It is generally well-tolerated, and can even be used by people with more sensitive skin. Niacinamide is a mild skincare ingredient and can be used across most, if not all, skin types without side effects.

Can niacinamide be used with other ingredients?

It sure can! That’s why it’s found in so many skincare products. This is also why it’s so easy to incorporate into your existing routine. Let’s take a closer look below.

  • Niacinamide and salicylic acid: Niacinamide is often paired with salicylic acid, a beta-hydroxy acid to fight acne. The combination of niacinimadie’s oil reducing powers with salicylic acid’s ability to dissolve excess oil will help keep pores clear and breakouts at bay. 
  • Niacinamide and alpha-hydroxy-acids: Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory effects also make it a good choice to pair with alpha-hydroxy acids. Combining these also increases the efficacy of the niacinamide. This is because AHAs exfoliate the dead skin cells that might make it harder for the niacinamide to effectively penetrate the skin.
  • Niacinamide and vitamin C: There was once a misconception that niacinamide couldn’t be mixed with vitamin C but it’s not true. They won’t render each other less effective and actually form a powerhouse duo. Using niacinamide in conjunction with a vitamin C serum will leave skin looking more radiant and noticeably younger-looking. 
  • Niacinamide and retinol: Retinol and niacinamide are often recommended by dermatologists to achieve quicker results. Niacinamide's calming benefits also combat the negative side effects and irritation that often come with retinol's wrinkle-fighting magic.
  • Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid: Pairing niacinamide with a hyaluronic acid serum is the perfect combination for dry, dull skin. Both ingredients are super hydrating, and together make the perfect remedy for dry or dehydrated skin.

How to incorporate niacinamide into your skincare routine 

Niacinamide is most commonly available in serum form. Adding niacinamide to your skincare routine is a simple process. Below are a few ways you can incorporate niacinamide into your skincare routine.

Apply niacinamide serum after cleansing and toning

Niacinamide serums are usually water-based, and should be applied before any moisturizers, creams or facial oils. This ensures maximum absorption and effectiveness of the niacinamide. You should use it on your entire face. Make sure you get even coverage on any areas with high sebum activity (like your T-zone).

Apply niacinamide moisturizer or night cream at the end of your skin care routine

A niacinamide could also be applied at the end of your skincare routine- after cleansing, toning and serums. As a night cream, this would be your final step but as an everyday moisturizer it goes right before makeup and SPF. 

Apply niacinamide as a targeted treatment

If you have  sun spots or need an all-over complexion resurfacing, try a niacinamide spot treatment. These are typically applied morning and night to clean skin, prior to any moisturizer, night cream, or SPF. Look for concentrations of niacinamide from 5 to 10%.

Apply niacinamide day or night

Niacinamide is effective when used both day or night, and sunlight has little effect on it’s potency. You can use it in both your AM and PM skincare routines, but remember to apply it in the correct order. See our previous post The Complete Guide to Layering Skincare Products or take a look below for a quick guide!

  • Step 1. Cleanser: Washing your face before applying any other skincare product offers a clean slate for everything you apply.
  • Step 2. Toner: A toner brings your skin back to neutral after washing and helps it stay balanced throughout the day.
  • Step 3. Treatment: Choose your treatment depending on your skin’s most pressing needs. This is when you would apply leave-on prescription treatments, spot treatments, or other products that need closest contact with skin.
  • Step 4. Serum: Unlike treatments, you can layer your serums. The thinnest should go on first. Oily or heavier serums should go last. If they all seem to be the same consistency, start with the most concentrated product that will tackle your top concern. 
  • Step 5. Eye cream: Using eye cream is an essential part of any simple skincare routine. Pat in around your orbital bone and up to your eyebrow ridge.
  • Step 6. Moisturizer: The final layer in your skincare routine should be moisturizer. This seals in the effects of all the hard work you’ve just put in and locks hydration in place.
  • Step 7. SPF: Sunscreen should be your final step in your morning routine.

Wrapping up

From softening fine lines and wrinkles to soothing acne, hydrating and fading dark spots, niacinamide is a multitasking powerhouse. Whether your skin is oily, dry, combination, or dehydrated, you can benefit from using niacinamide in your routine. If you’re not already using it, it’s time to start. Because there’s no better skincare multitasker than niacinamide!

Try Niacinamide Skincare from Herbal Dynamics Beauty