While we all love antioxidants – whether we eat them or apply them – not all of them work well in topical skincare products. Niacinamide acts as a powerful antioxidant in some of the most researched skin care products. So what’s in this antioxidant that makes it so special?
Niacinamide has been a staple in dermatologists’ offices for years, and its notoriety only seems to be growing. That’s why we’re looking at the basics of how this ingredient works and the advanced benefits of niacinamide for your skin.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide in skincare is used 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 – which is why it’s especially good for dry and sensitive skin. In fact, a lack of niacinamide can lead to red, inflamed and itchy skin, among a host of other conditions. Fortunately, the concentrations as low as 2% may help relieve sensitized skin, often experienced by eczema sufferers.
6 reasons to use niacinamide
Along with the 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 exposures anti-inflammatory activity that can soothe skin conditions like acne and rosacea. In a 2014 study, patients with moderate acne received topical treatment with niacinamide 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 adapt to using retinoids (like retinol and retinoic acid). Many skin types experience irritation or dryness at the start of retinoid treatment. Try to use niacinamide in tandem with your retinoid for the best results.
#2: Regulates oil production
Excess oil production is a common companion to large pores and acne. This is why you may notice that your pores are more visible in your T-zone, where we tend to be more oily. If your face isn’t cleansed or exfoliated properly, oil 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 the application of 2% niacinamide may benefit the skin by helping to decrease sebum production. You can use a niacinamide serum with 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 powerful serum treatment day or night. Since the high percentage of hyaluronic acid can feel sticky depending on how much water you add, try applying it at night for best results.
#3: Fights hyperpigmentation
One of the best-known benefits of niacinamide is its ability to fight dark spots. Whether you’re battling acne scars or sun damage, niacinamide deserves a place in your treatment plan. In fact, it works best with other dark spot treatments like certain types of vitamin C.
In terms of complexion balance, a 2011 study compared niacinamide and hydroquinone for the treatment of melasma. 44% of patients saw “good to excellent improvement” with the use of niacinamide over an eight-week period. Note: Use of 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 collagen depletion, dark spots and, in the worst case, skin cancer.
Although niacinamide works well for treating skin damage after it has occurred, it is also naturally effective as a preventative measure. It helps your skin”rebuild healthy skin cellswhile protecting them from UV rays (and other environmental stressors, like pollution.) Ideally, find an SPF product that includes niacinamide or just use a niacinamide serum under your sunscreen during the day.
#5: Rebuilds the lipid barrier
We often focus our anti-aging efforts on protecting collagen, rebuilding it, and replenishing it with moisture – an often overlooked factor is ceramides. These essential lipids are responsible for holding skin cells together to create a protective barrier. This ensures that your skin stays hydrated and won’t lose moisture too quickly.
As we age, these lipids are slowly depleted, leading to thin, dry skin. Niacinamide benefits the skin barrier by encouraging production of ceramides.
#6: Increases Keratin Production
Complementary to lipids, keratin is a protein of our skin barrier. Keratin is actually the main 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 deterioration of 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 barrieras is often the case in people with eczema.
Ways to Use Niacinamide at Every Step of Your Routine
There are many possibilities to include niacinamide in your daily routine. We’ve compiled a list of niacinamide-infused skincare and makeup products, so you can experience the benefits of niacinamide day and night!
Since most cleansers stay put for a short time, you probably don’t need to opt for a niacinamide-based cleanser. You’ll get the most bang for your buck when used in leave-in treatments, like our Fermented Rice Water Toner. Licorice root extract and fermented rice water combine with niacinamide for extra brightening power.
In the morning, layer a serum under your moisturizer and SPF for concentrated benefits. Our Cucumber Watermelon Water Lock Serum works great for a daytime fix. Hydrating aloe and watermelon complement niacinamide for a detoxifying blend that hinders fine lines and wrinkles.
At night, choose our Powerful Multi-Vitamin + Antioxidant PM Serum. With a sweet orange scent and 10% niacinamide, the icing on the cake is the presence of three other antioxidants: vitamin C, vitamin E and retinol.
For a moisturizer, try Bakuchiol Moisturizer. This ultra-lightweight moisturizer hydrates without the heavy ingredients that can clog pores. It’s an especially good choice for those who find retinol too irritating; bakuchiol offers all the retinol without the irritating side effects.
Don’t skimp on the eye cream; these products are formulated with particular attention to the thin and 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 over with soothing anti-inflammatory action. It’s an antioxidant triple punch!
For the benefits of concentrated niacinamide in treatment form, one option is our Retinol Neck Repair Cream. This cream addresses two different aspects of anti-aging: prevention and treatment. Niacinamide’s UV blocking power helps prevent new creases from forming. Retinol helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on your delicate neck area.
For a daytime niacinamide treatment, our Lavender Niacinamide Pore Minimizer Tonic provides a cooling layer of hydration, not to mention the soothing benefits of lavender.
Can niacinamide be found in nature?
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 ways to harvest this ingredient!
Some claim that the most potent forms of niacinamide are derived from meat, fish, egg and milk by-products, but we are not convinced. Spirulina has the highest niacin content of any vegetable, followed by mushrooms. Even beans can be a good source of niacin: especially adzuki, white, Great Northern and kidney beans. Nutritional yeast, green vegetables, and some cereals also have measurable niacin content.
Niacinamide benefits all skin types and conditions, and has been proven to be versatile and non-irritating. So whether you suffer from inflammation, acne, oiliness, dryness or hyperpigmentation, this antioxidant should be a staple in your routine!