What exactly is niacinamide?
As one part of the vitamin B3 molecule (the other is niacin), niacinamide naturally occurs in food such as grains, fish, meat and beans. However, it is not produced in the body so needs to be ingested or applied topically to skin.
What does niacinamide do for skin?
Research has shown that it works to protect skin from environmental damage, particularly sun damage, and improves hydration, reduces signs of ageing, shrinks enlarged pores, lessens blackheads and significantly improves skin discoloration and uneven skin tone.”
A recent 2019 study also found that it’s particularly good at combatting the pollution we all come to blows with each day, thanks to its ability to repair damaged DNA and its powerful antioxidant properties.
So to sum up:
1. Niacinamide Hydrates Skin
Niacinamide creates a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. The result? Skin is softer, smoother and less prone to irritations
[ See 2000 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology]
2. Niacinamide Reduces The Appearance Of Wrinkles
Some of the best collagen boosters, like (synthetic) vitamin C and retinol, can be too harsh for sensitive skin and seriously irritate it. Niacinamide is much gentler. Anyone can use it without problems.
3. Niacinamide Is An Effective Treatment For Acne
A 1999 study compared a 4% niacinamide gel to a 1% clindamycin gel (a topical antibiotic). Eight weeks later, 82% of patients treated with niacinamide saw an improvement while clindamycin worked well for only 68% of those who used it.
4. Niacinamide Can Soothe Rosacea
A 2005 study shows that applying a facial moisturizer with niacinamide twice a day for a month improves skin barrier function, relieving the symptoms of rosacea.
5. Niacinamide Has Skin-Lightening Properties
In 2002, a group of researchers found that moisturizers and sunscreens with 2% and 5% niacinamide “significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness compared with vehicle alone after 4 weeks of use”.
Another 2011 study found that 4% niacinamide is an effective treatment for melasma.
This is because it prevents melanin (the pigment that gives skin its colour) from reaching the outer layer of your skin. If it can’t get there, it can’t make it darker.
Is niacinamide skincare for everyone?
One of the great things about niacinamide is that it mixes really well with other active ingredients (it helps to absorb moisturiser brilliantly). It works as a brightener, a smoothing agent, and an anti-ageing serum!
Due to its pretty all-encompassing nature, it’s impressively universal in its appeal. “It’s suitable for all ages – from teens through to those with mature skin,” advises dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting*.
Are there any skin types that should steer clear of it? According to Dr Bunting, no. “It’s suitable for even those with sensitive skin,” she says. “It’s a fantastic all-rounder that’s brilliantly well-tolerated so most can benefit from it. It’s also safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.”
A well-formulated niacinamide product is is easy to add it to any skincare routine. Unlike synthetic retinol or Vitamin C, there is not really a downside of seeing if this product can get the results you have been looking for.
Watch this space for future product launches
TRISTAN FEWINGS, Vogue.com 2019, Buzzfeed, 2021, Beauty with Brains, 2021, as quoted in *Get the Gloss, 2020. Image courtesy of Byrdie.com.