The benefits of niacinamide: what does niacinamide do to your skin?

niacinamide product in hand

Niacinamide is a skincare ingredient worthy of your attention and your skin will love you for using it. Among a handful of other skincare ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C, niacinamide is a standout because of its versatility. Niacinamide benefits almost any skin concern and skin type.

The conclusions we form on any ingredient are always based on published research. The research on using niacinamide for the skin demonstrates just how effective it is, so find out exactly why niacinamide is a key ingredient on your skincare shelf.

What is niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works with the natural substances in your skin. So what does niacinamide do? It helps to visibly minimise enlarged pores, tighten lax pores, improve uneven skin tone, soften fine lines & wrinkles, diminish dullness and strengthen a weakened surface.

Niacinamide not only reduces the impact of environmental damage since it can improve the skin barrier (the first line of defense), but it also plays a role in helping the skin to repair signs of past damage. Left unchecked, this type of daily assault makes the skin appear older, duller and less radiant overall.

niacinamide drops

What not to mix with niacinamide

Put simply: you can mix anything with niacinamide. This ingredient is uniquely compatible with any of the products in your skincare routine – including those that contain retinol, peptides, hyaluronic acid, AHA, BHA, vitamin C and all types of antioxidants. This means you can benefit from niacinamide without having to change up your skincare routine. For instance, feel free to use niacinamide and vitamin C or niacinamide and hyaluronic acid at the same time. No need to drop any of your favourite serums! Look out for niacinamide products like toners, serums and highly concentrated leave-on treatments.

You can also use multiple products in your routine that have niacinamide as an ingredient and it will still be non-sensitising. To the question: is niacinamide good for dry skin? Breathe a sigh of relief – this ingenious B vitamin is well tolerated by all skin types. It is even suitable for those with sensitive or rosacea-prone skin.

Niacinamide for specific skin concerns

Niacinamide helps to renew and restore the surface of the skin against moisture loss and dehydration. This helps the skin to improve its natural production of skin-strengthening ceramides. When ceramides become depleted over time, the skin is left vulnerable to all sorts of problems: from persistent patches of dry, flaky skin to increasingly becoming extra-sensitive.

If you struggle with dry skin, topical application of niacinamide has been shown to boost the hydrating ability of moisturisers so that the skin's surface can better resist the moisture loss that leads to recurrent dry, tight, flaky skin. Niacinamide works brilliantly with common moisturising ingredients like glycerine, non-fragrant plant oils, cholesterol, sodium PCA and sodium hyaluronate.

How does niacinamide help pores? Research hasn't yet come to a full understanding of how this ingredient reduces the appearance of pores. But that's not to say that people don't see this effect when they use niacinamide skincare. It seems that niacinamide has a normalising ability on the pore lining, which plays a role in keeping debris from getting backed up (this debris is what leads to clogged pores and rough, bumpy skin). As the clog worsens, the pores stretch to compensate. This is when you see enlarged pores. Niacinamide works to return pores to their normal size. Sun damage can cause pores to become stretched too, leading to what some describe as "orange peel skin". For this skin concern, higher concentrations of niacinamide can help to visibly tighten pores by reinforcing the skin's supportive elements.

Niacinamide for acne: Research shows that a concentration of 2% (or higher) is highly effective in helping fade red blemishes quicker. Red blemishes are the red marks left behind after a breakout. So products containing niacinamide are a great choice for those with acne-prone skin.

How does niacinamide help with discolourations and uneven skin tone? Both of these concerns stem from excess melanin (skin pigment) showing on the skin's surface. Niacinamide in concentrations of 5% (or higher) works via several pathways to keep new discolourations from appearing. At the same time, niacinamide also helps to break up existing discolouration so that your skin tone appears more even. Shop products focused on niacinamide and discolouration-reducing ingredients as niacinamide pairs really well with vitamin C, liquorice, retinol and bakuchiol.

How to use niacinamide

Using niacinamide is easy. Simply find a great skincare product that focuses on niacinamide with other beneficial ingredients like antioxidants, skin-restoring agents and other skin-replenishing ingredients.

A multi-ingredient approach to skincare is crucial here, because niacinamide is not the only ingredient that skin needs to look and feel its best. Think of skincare like your diet: as healthy as kale is, you wouldn't exclusively eat kale as you'd soon become malnourished. Your body needs more than one source of nutrition to maintain itself. The same is true for your skin, the body's largest (and most exposed) organ!

For best results, use leave-on niacinamide products and apply them to cleansed skin twice daily. That might mean that you apply a toner with niacinamide immediately after cleansing to rehydrate and replenish. Our Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster can be used on its own (much like another vitamin B serum for the face) or mixed into your favourite moisturiser, based on personal preference. Experiment to see what works best for your skin!

Do you experience persistent skin concerns such as visibly stretched pores, lax pores or a skin texture that's rough and bumpy? Try niacinamide in a unique concentration of no less than 20%. The CLINICAL Niacinamide 20% Treatment visibly reduces stretched & enlarged pores, smooths rough (orange peel) skin texture and minimises bumps caused by accumulated sebum. The treatment reveals a smoother, more refined skin texture.

You can use a product with niacinamide around your eyes, too. Often, people find that a moisturiser or eye cream with niacinamide helps to improve the look of under-eye circles, soften the appearance of crow's feet and enable this delicate area to retain skin-smoothing moisture & resist loss of firmness.

How long does niacinamide take to work?

Generally speaking, you should start to see results after 2-4 weeks of twice daily usage (depending on the severity of your skin concerns and how concentrated your niacinamide product is). Ongoing use is required for continued improvement.

Results will continue to improve over time but don't expect your skin to be completely "poreless". No skincare product can achieve this result, not to mention how your skin needs its pores for many vital functions. You can look forward to pores that appear smaller, a skin tone that looks more even, visibly reduced fine lines & wrinkles and an overall healthier glow.

Don't hesitate to add niacinamide into your skincare routine. This versatile ingredient brings many topical benefits to improve the skin's appearance so that it appears more even, brighter and younger-looking. As with any great skincare ingredient, be sure you are diligent with protecting your skin daily with a broad-spectrum sun cream rated SPF 30 or higher. This helps make sure you'll see maximum benefits from niacinamide.

References for this information:

Experimental Dermatology, February 2019, Supplement 1, pages 15-22; and October 2018, ePublication
Dermatologic Therapy, September 2017, ePublication
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 2017, page S116
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, March 2017, pages 158-162; and January 2013, Pages 192-201
Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, May 2016 , pages 145-152
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, July 2015, pages 405-412
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2014, pages 311-315
International Journal of Pharmacy, January 2013, pages 192-201
Dermatoendrocrinology, July 2012, pages 308-319
Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 31, Part 2, 2005, Discussion 865
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2004, pages 231-238
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2004, pages 88-93


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