Fad skincare ingredients come and go, with new ones popping up every years as last season’s batch of “essentials” fall off the radar.
Within these fads, however, you’ll occasionally discover ingredients that are genuinely useful, from recent favorites like hyaluronic acid to lasting skincare essentials like tretinoin, kojic acid and clindamycin.
Niacinamide is an ingredient that falls into the “genuinely useful” category. It’s a water-soluble form of vitamin B that’s used in everything from skincare creams to serums thanks to its ability to protect the skin from environmental damage.
It’s also a multitasker, helping to stop your skin from losing moisture and becoming dehydrated over the course of the day. You can find niacinamide in many day and night creams, as well as on its own in niacinamide-based creams and lotions.
Like other skincare ingredients, niacinamide works best when you incorporate it into an existing skincare routine. It works effectively alongside a range of other products, from medications like tretinoin to over-the-counter skincare products and cosmetics.
Below, we’ve covered everything you need to know about niacinamide, from its effects on your skin to its potential side effects. We’ve also covered how it works as an ingredient, as well as the best ways to use niacinamide on your skin for optimal results.
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. It’s found naturally inside a variety of foods, from meat and fish to milk, eggs, nuts and vegetables.
Internally, your body uses niacinamide for a variety of important tasks. It helps your body to use fats, carbohydrates and other nutrients efficiently for cellular maintenance. It also plays a role in helping your body maintain healthy skin and other tissue.
Medically, niacinamide is used to treat a condition known as pellagra, or niacin deficiency. While most people consume enough niacinamide through their diet for normal health, deficient levels of niacinamide can result in damage to your skin, mouth, brain and digestive system.
In simple terms, niacinamide is an important vitamin for your overall health, both internally and externally.
While most people know of niacinamide as an ingredient in topical acne products, it’s also sold as a health supplement. The oral form of niacinamide sold in health stores has several benefits, the biggest of which is preventing vitamin B3 deficiency.
From a skincare perspective, niacinamide is used in a variety of products. Check the labels of popular skincare products and you’ll find niacinamide in everything from anti-aging creams to over-the-counter acne treatments.
As a skincare ingredient, niacinamide has a variety of benefits. It’s linked to improvements in the appearance of wrinkles, as well as a reduction in skin yellowing. Some studies even show a link between niacinamide and improved skin elasticity. Used effectively, niacinamide can:
As well these main benefits, niacinamide also has a variety of other effects, from evening out patches of skin discoloration to potentially smoothing out uneven areas of skin.
Used topically, niacinamide is extremely safe. The only noted side effects of topical niacinamide are mild itching, redness and burning. These are rare and often go away over time as your skin becomes more accustomed to the substance.
Some niacinamide users experience persistent redness. If your skin becomes red and irritated while using niacinamide and doesn’t resolve on its own, it’s best to stop using niacinamide and switch to another skincare treatment.
Used orally as a dietary supplement, niacinamide also has a great safety record. Studies show that oral niacinamide is safe and well tolerated, although liver problems can potentially occur at very high doses over a long period of time.
For pregnant women, niacinamide is considered likely safe at normal doses. However, it’s still best to talk to your doctor about the potential effects of niacinamide if you’re pregnant, nursing or planning to become pregnant.
The easiest way to use niacinamide is to look for acne prevention and anti-aging products that contain it as an active ingredient.
Hers Acne (AM and PM) and Hers Anti-Aging both contain niacinamide. Designed for easy use once or twice daily, both products let you enjoy the benefits of niacinamide combined with other proven ingredients like tretinoin.
You can also find niacinamide in a variety of facial creams. As a health supplement, niacinamide is widely available from health and nutrition stores. If you have acne or rosacea, it’s also good to look for sunscreens that contain niacinamide as an active ingredient.
To apply niacinamide, follow the dosage and application instructions provided with your acne or anti-aging cream. Like most topical acne and anti-aging products, niacinamide is most effective when it’s applied to clean, dry skin.
Niacinamide is one of several science-backed ingredients used in skincare products. While it’s highly effective at treating everything from skin discoloration and wrinkles to acne, it’s far from the only ingredient worth looking for.