The best thing about niacinamide is how universal it is. Most powerful skincare ingredients come with caveats: maybe they could irritate your skin, or cause unwanted effects in combination with certain products. Maybe they’re best for a given skin type and iffy for others. Niacinamide, on the other hand, is for everyone. It’s almost universally well-tolerated—the odds are very low it will irritate your skin. It also plays well with other ingredients. In fact, since it reduces redness, it’s a no-brainer to combine it with retinol. It also strengthens your skin’s moisture barrier, regulates excessive oil production, and reduces the appearance of dark spots and pores.
This combination of powerful effects and lack of drawbacks means it has long been included in some of your favorite skincare products, tucked into a long ingredient label. But skincare has gotten much more ingredient-focused in the last few years, as increasingly well-educated consumers actually read those labels and stick to the stuff that works and avoid irritating and toxic ingredients.
In this new age, niacinamide is a keeper. Here’s how it works, and the best ways to get your daily dose.
What is niacinamide, and why good for the skin?
Niacinamide is a variation of vitamin B3 (similar to a closely-related ingredient, niacin). It’s essentially targeted nourishment for your skin, which shows itself in four main ways:
1. Niacinamide strengthens the skin’s barrier. Your skin has far more functions than just sealing up your blood and bones—it’s the barrier between your body and the outside world, which is full of irritants. This outer layer of the skin locks in moisture, so that it doesn’t dry up or become dull, discolored, rough, or easily wounded. Niacinamide fortifies this barrier function of the skin, keeping the good stuff in and the bad stuff out.
2. Niacinamide promotes smoother complexion. Not only can niacinamide minimize the appearance of pores, but it also helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines, as well as hyperpigmentation (like dark spots and acne marks).
3. Niacinamide helps regulate oil production. While it’s no substitute for a toner, niacinamide can help regulate sebum levels in the skin, to reduce pore clogging and shine.
4. Niacinamide can reduce redness. Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory powers, and can help soothe conditions like rosacea or inflammatory acne, and is beneficial for frequent shavers who often battle razor burn. Many of these conditions call for more aggressive, targeted products, but it certainly helps to include niacinamide in your regimen to fight their appearance.
Four Ways to Add Niacinamide to Your Skincare Regimen
1. Moisturizer. Many daily moisturizers contain small amounts of niacinamide. This is a good way to add it to your routine, if you aren’t looking to add yet another type of product. It’s a no-brainer if you’re dealing with redness or irritation, like from shaving.
Ceylon daily moisturizer
2. A targeted serum. If you are looking for an overall boost to your skin’s texture and appearance, then consider a proactive, deep-penetrating serum, which can seep into all layers of the skin in order to more actively address and correct these concerns. Expect results in 1-2 months.
Skin INC. Vitamin B3 serum
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
3. Night cream. Unlike daytime moisturizers, night creams are traditionally denser and more juiced-up with nutrients, in order to sync with your body’s regenerative cycle (and thus magnify the benefits of the ingredients). Pair a night cream with a good night’s sleep and you’ve got a recipe for morning handsomeness.
Drunk Elephant night mask
4. Targeted treatments. If you have a pesky dark spot or need an all-over resurfacing, then try a hyper-specific spot treatment. They’re typically applied morning and night to clean skin, prior to any moisturizer, night cream, or SPF (and after serum). Give it a month or two to see those brightening results. Look for concentrations of niacinamide from 5 to 10%, like this tube from Peter Thomas Roth.
Peter Thomas Roth hyperpigmentation treatment
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