Meet the Multi-Purpose Super Ingredient: Niacinamide

Meet the Multi-Purpose Super Ingredient: Niacinamide

1. What is niacinamide?

a. What does niacinamide do?

2. What does niacinamide do for the skin?

a. Does niacinamide help acne?

b. Can niacinamide harm the skin?

3. What does niacinamide do for overall wellness?

4. How to use niacinamide on the skin

5. Some tips to help you when you’re looking for niacinamide products

 

When it comes to beauty, there’s a world of choices. This is especially true (and important) in skincare because every routine should be personalized. However, with so many hyped-up ingredients fighting for our affection—and attention—few are as widely praised as niacinamide. It might not get as much buzz as ingredients like retinol and vitamin C, but it’s an unsung hero that deserves equal praise.

Not quite sure what niacinamide is or what it’s doing in your moisturizer? We’ve got you. Here’s what you should know before adding it to your skincare routine.



1. What is niacinamide?


Niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) is one of two forms of vitamin B3. This water-soluble essential vitamin isn’t synthesized in the body, which means it must be ingested (or applied to the skin) to receive its benefits. It can be found in many of the foods we eat—like meat, green vegetables and beans—and is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties.

When applied topically, it bestows skin with major benefits. Like retinol and vitamin C, it’s one of the true skincare greats and can be found in the best face serums, moisturizers, cleansers and more. But what makes it truly appealing, and sets it apart from the rest, is that it has multiple benefits and is safe to use on any and all skin types.


a. What does niacinamide do?


When ingested in food or through supplements, niacinamide helps promote the proper function of fats and sugars in the body, working to maintain healthy cells. When applied topically, niacinamide is a bit of a show-off. Whether it’s boosting hydration or fading hyper-pigmentation, there’s not much it doesn’t claim to help with. In short, it’s incredibly restorative.



2. What does niacinamide do for the skin?


Whether it’s found in the best hyaluronic acid serum or the best anti-wrinkle serum, niacinamides are the very definition of multi-tasker, offering a list of diverse benefits that make it ideal for a variety of skin types and complexion concerns.

Extensive research has shown that niacinamide works to protect skin from free-radical damage. Left unchecked, free radicals can trigger something called oxidative stress, which plays a role in premature aging of the skin and hyperpigmentation and sets off inflammatory conditions like eczema and acne. But because niacinamide is an antioxidant, it shuts down free radicals and protects the skin from environmental stressors.

Niacinamide also aids in building cells in the skin by boosting the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, both of which help reduce fine lines and wrinkles. But that’s not all. It also soothes redness with its anti-inflammatory properties, normalizes oil production (which keeps pores clear and prevents breakouts), controls pigment-making cells (helping to fade hyperpigmentation) and, finally, boosts skin’s hydration levels.


a. Does niacinamide help acne?


Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an effective treatment for skin conditions, like acne, marked by inflammation, like papules and pustules. Beyond its anti-inflammatory benefits, niacinamide has also been touted for regulating the amount of acne-causing oil produced by the glands in the skin. Plus, it can help fade the discolouration marks that acne often leaves behind.


b. Can niacinamide harm the skin?


When used topically, niacinamide is extremely safe. In fact, it’s one of the most well-tolerated and soothing skincare ingredients out there. The only noted side effects of niacinamide are mild itching, redness and burning, which can occur when used in high concentrations. However, these are rare cases and usually affect people with extremely sensitive skin. If it’s too much for your skin, consider scaling back to every other day (or even a couple of times a week). If you experience redness and irritation and it doesn’t go away on its own, stop using products with niacinamide and consult your dermatologist.

If you’re concerned that niacinamide will cause purging, it won’t. Purging, which is a progression that causes a temporary acne flare-up reaction, is usually triggered by active ingredients that accelerate cell turnover in the skin. Unlike retinol and acids, niacinamide doesn’t increase skin cell turnover, which means it won’t cause purging.



3. What does niacinamide do for overall wellness?


Now you know what this ingredient does for your skin—like soothe redness, fight breakouts, fade dark spots and more—but do you know what it does for the rest of the body? For starters, it’s one of the eight B vitamins your body needs for good health. Cells in our body need niacinamide to make cofactors (a non-protein chemical compound) necessary for keeping cells functioning properly and for carrying out various processes (like metabolism and damage repair). It does this by converting food into usable energy and helping the body’s cells carry out these important chemical reactions.

It’s beneficial in treating serious medical conditions, such as pellagra and chronic kidney disease. Research also suggests that niacinamide may help decrease phosphate levels in people with kidney dysfunction by blocking its absorption.



4. How to use niacinamide on the skin


Not sure how to add niacinamide to your routine? No problem. It’s one of the most laid-back ingredients out there—which means it can be found in many skincare formulations and plays nice with pretty much all other ingredients. Bonus: It’s good for all skin types.

If you’re looking for a niacinamide-focused routine that shows results, we’ve built a step-by-step regimen. Use it consistently and see results fast.

  • The best vitamin C serum ampoules
    On cleansed skin, give your complexion a boost with a shot of LiftActiv Specialist Peptide C Ampoules. The formula housed in these glass vials has a water-like consistency and packs a punch with a fresh dose of 10% vitamin C. This formula doesn’t contain niacinamide, but when both antioxidants are paired in a skincare routine, they help address environmental stressors from various angles.
  • The best probiotic-based serum with niacinamide
    Help your skin thrive and maintain balance with this probiotic fraction and niacinamide serum. Vichy Minéral 89 Probiotic Fractions is the latest version of our famous serum designed to boost the skin barrier while supporting the microbiome using probiotic fractions grown in Vichy volcanic water with vitamin B3.
  • The best eye serum with niacinamide
    Infused with niacinamide, caffeine and licorice root extract, Vichy Idealia Eyes reduces hyperpigmentation and lifts and hydrates the undereye. In just one month, it reduces the appearance of dark circles and fine lines.
  • The best sunscreen for face
    Protecting your skin against harmful UV rays—every single day—is a non-negotiable when building a solid skincare routine. Boost your protection by layering on a niacinamide-rich serum or moisturizer under your SPF because together it protects against the inflammation caused by sun damage.



5. Some tips to help you when you’re looking for niacinamide products


Wondering how to choose and use the best niacinamide product for you? It’s safe to use every day (either in the morning or at night), but always check the packaging for specific instructions. If you want the highest concentration, look for a serum formula—this is also the preferred delivery method, because this water-soluble vitamin is most efficiently absorbed into skin via a serum, making it the best vehicle to deliver benefits. In terms of percentages, the best niacinamide serum should have between 2% and 10%.

However, if you’re new to niacinamide, start slow and low. Translation: Use it every other day and choose a formula with a lower percentage, working your way up to every day. Also, be sure that nicotinamide or niacinamide is on the ingredient list and not nicotinic acid, which is the other form of vitamin B3. Nicotinic acid isn’t as well tolerated and can cause side effects, like flushing.



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