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Niacinamide's powerful benefits for your skin

This water-soluble vitamin is a popular skincare ingredient for good reason.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 4, 2023 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
Niacinamide Soothes, Improves Moisture Loss, and Evens Skin Tone
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Aug 4, 2023 • 10 min read
Medically reviewed by Laura Phelan, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

If you're searching for clearer skin and a brighter complexion, niacinamide is the ingredient that you likely want on your radar. This versatile ingredient has become a game-changer in the skincare world due to its unique anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and moisturizing effects.

It provides numerous skincare benefits, which include its ability to help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve skin elasticity, minimize redness, and brighten dark spots. Niacinamide is valuable because it does all this without the time-consuming and expensive treatments and regimens that many other skin-improvement solutions require. Here, Curology’s licensed medical professionals will explain what you need to know about niacinamide's benefits.

Niacinamide and its role in skincare 

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many biological processes in the body. This ingredient is commonly found in various skincare products, from serums and moisturizers to toners and masks.

Its role in skincare is multifaceted, and it offers an array of impressive benefits that can improve your skin's health:

  • May contribute to improving aging facial skin appearance.¹

  • Can address many skin concerns, such as wrinkles, dark spots, dry skin, and redness.²

Another reason for niacinamide's popularity is its gentle nature. Unlike other skincare ingredients, niacinamide is well-tolerated by most skin types, including sensitive skin. It is non-irritating and non-sensitizing, making it a safe and effective option for many skin concerns.³

Niacinamide mechanism of action

Niacinamide can help normalize the imbalance of nicotinamide coenzymes in the skin—essential molecules involved in various metabolic processes in the body, including energy production and DNA repair. 

These coenzymes decline with age and are depleted by UV radiation, pollution, and other environmental stressors. This can contribute to skin concerns, such as fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and a weakened skin barrier.

By increasing the nicotinamide coenzymes in the skin, niacinamide can significantly enhance your skin's overall health and appearance.⁴

Benefits of niacinamide

Whether seeking to revitalize your complexion, regulate sebum production, combat hyperpigmentation, or enhance your skin’s overall health, niacinamide offers many advantages that make it a compelling addition to any beauty and wellness routine. 

Let's take a closer look at the science-backed benefits of niacinamide, and its role in addressing various skin concerns:

Reduces wrinkles

Topical formulations of niacinamides boost collagen production, giving skin strength and firmness while also making it more resilient against future damage caused by sun exposure or other external aggressors.⁵

Brightens skin tone

Niacinamide has been found to be effective in reducing age spots or hyperpigmentation due to its ability to inhibit the transfer of melanosomes, which are responsible for producing pigment in the skin’s epidermis layer. Inhibiting this transfer helps prevent excess pigmentation from forming while brightening the overall complexion with regular use.⁶

Fights acne

The anti-inflammatory properties found in niacinamide make it beneficial for acne-prone skin as it can help reduce redness and irritation caused by breakouts without drying out the surrounding areas of healthy skin tissue, like some harsh topical treatments do when attempting to treat blemishes alone. 

Further, niacinamides can potentially hinder bacterial proliferation on facial surfaces, which could further reduce outbreaks associated with acne vulgaris, the common form of acne.⁷

Fights dark spots (hyperpigmentation)

Niacinamides have antioxidant properties that help protect your skin from environmental aggressors like UV rays or pollutants that can cause increased pigmentation and age spots due to oxidative stress.⁸

Additionally, research suggests that this nutrient may reduce inflammation associated with dark spots caused by acne or other blemishes while helping promote faster healing in areas where you’ve experienced too much exposure over time so that any residual signs of discoloration fade away more quickly.⁹

Helps improve the skin barrier 

The stratum corneum is the outermost layer of our skin, acting as a protective barrier between the underlying layers of skin and the outside environment. This barrier can become compromised in conditions like rosacea, leading to symptoms such as redness, sensitivity, and inflammation. Niacinamide helps strengthen and improve the functioning of this protective layer. So, by enhancing the stratum corneum barrier, niacinamide may provide a clinical benefit to individuals with rosacea.¹⁰

Improve skin hydration

Niacinamide improves the epidermal barrier function. After the application of niacinamide the skin surface may feel smoother with a noticeable reduction in roughness.¹¹

This property makes it an excellent choice for those with dry or dehydrated skin types who need extra moisture in their routine. Additionally, niacinamide helps reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) induced by atopic dermatitis.¹²

It does this by increasing the production of ceramides and fatty acids in the outer layer of the skin, which form a protective barrier that helps to limit water loss.¹³

Repairs sun damage

Niacinamide is an excellent ingredient for enhancing DNA repair of UV-induced damage. Topical formulations of niacinamide have been found to protect against UV radiation s that can cause premature aging signs such as wrinkles, age spots, and hyperpigmentation.¹⁴

It can reduce redness associated with sunburns while helping promote faster healing in areas where you've experienced too much exposure over time.¹⁵

Criteria for choosing niacinamide products for your skin

When choosing the best niacinamide product for your skin, there are several criteria to consider, including:

Formula

Niacinamide comes in various forms, including serums, creams, lotions, and gels. Each formulation may work differently depending on your skin type and concerns. Niacinamide serums, for example, are lightweight, water-based formulations that are easily absorbed into the skin. They are well-suited for oily or combination skin types that need targeted treatment without adding extra oiliness.

Niacinamide creams are thicker and more emollient, providing moisturization and hydration to the skin. They are ideal for dry or sensitive skin, providing a more nourishing and soothing effect. Check product labels and consult a dermatologist to find the most suitable niacinamide formulation for your skincare needs.

Ingredients

Many skincare products contain added fragrance components and preservatives, which may cause reactions, especially in those with sensitive skin. That’s why it’s important to check the labels of skincare products, including those containing niacinamide, for added fragrance components and preservatives.¹⁶

Look for products that contain complementary ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid for hydration¹⁷ or antioxidants, like Vitamin C, for added skin protection against UV-induced photodamage.¹⁸

Concentration

Checking the concentration of niacinamide in each product you consider buying is also essential. Depending on how strong or mild a formulation you need (as well as your skin tolerance), this factor can determine whether a particular product works well for you. Look for products with a 2-5% niacinamide concentration, showing clinical significance.¹⁹

Niacinamide Can Be Found in Various Types of Skincare Products

Popular niacinamide-based products on the market

Whether you struggle with rosacea, acne, dryness, signs of aging, or simply want to improve your skin's overall health and appearance, niacinamide is an ingredient worth considering.

However, when choosing a product, it's essential to consider your skin type, specific concerns, formulation, and ingredients in the product to ensure it is the best fit for your skin. Here are some of the best niacinamide products available in the market:

  • Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster: The Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster suits all skin types but is especially beneficial for acne-prone skin. It can minimize the appearance of enlarged pores and works to a more even skin tone. This lightweight serum contains a potent concentration of niacinamide to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

  • The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a popular skincare product that combines niacinamide and zinc. It is designed to help boost skin brightness, improve smoothness, and hydrate the skin. I Additionally, the product has a lightweight, serum-like texture that's easy to apply and absorbs quickly into the skin.

  • CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer With Sunscreen: CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizer is a versatile addition to your morning skincare routine. It contains three vital ceramides that collaborate to retain moisture and restore the skin's protective barrier, hydrating hyaluronic acid and soothing niacinamide. This multitasking moisturizer also provides broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30. It’s formulated to provide smooth and even application without leaving a chalky residue.

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FAQs

How long does it take to see results from using niacinamide?

Results from using niacinamide can vary depending on the individual and their specific skin concerns. However, many people report seeing improvements in skin texture and hydration within a few weeks of regular use.

Can niacinamide cause any adverse effects?

Niacinamide is generally well-tolerated, but some individuals may experience mild side effects such as redness or irritation. It's always best to patch-test new products and discontinue use if you experience any adverse effects.

Can niacinamide be used in conjunction with other skincare ingredients?

Yes, niacinamide can be used with other skincare ingredients, such as vitamin C and retinol. However, it's essential to introduce new products gradually and monitor your skin's reaction.²⁰

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Bissett, D.L, et al. Niacinamide: A B Vitamin That Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance. Dermatologic Surgery: Official Publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. (July 2005).

  2. Levin, J. and Momin, S.B. How Much Do We Really Know about Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (February 2010).

  3. Andersen, F. A. Final Report of the Safety Assessment of NIACINAMIDE and NiacinInternational Journal of Toxicology. (October 2005).

  4. Matts, P. J., et al. A Review of the Range of Effects of Niacinamide in Human SkinIFSCC Magazine. (January 2002).

  5. Matts, P. J., et al. A Review of the Range of Effects of Niacinamide in Human SkinIFSCC Magazine. Ibid.

  6. Boo, Y. C. Mechanistic Basis and Clinical Evidence for the Applications of Nicotinamide (Niacinamide) to Control Skin Aging and Pigmentation. Antioxidants. (2021, August 21).

  7. Matts, P. J., et al. A Review of the Range of Effects of Niacinamide in Human SkinIFSCC Magazine. Ibid.

  8. Levin, J. and Momin, S.B. How Much Do We Really Know about Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  9. Boo, Y. C. Mechanistic Basis and Clinical Evidence for the Applications of Nicotinamide (Niacinamide) to Control Skin Aging and Pigmentation. Antioxidants. Ibid.

  10. Draelos, Z.D., et al. Niacinamide-Containing Facial Moisturizer Improves Skin Barrier and Benefits Subjects with Rosacea. Cutis. (August 2005).

  11. Levin, J. and Momin, S.B. How Much Do We Really Know about Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  12. Bains P., et al. Nicotinamide: Mechanism of action and indications in dermatology. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. (2018, February 5).

  13. Tanno, O., et al. Nicotinamide Increases Biosynthesis of Ceramides as Well as Other Stratum Corneum Lipids to Improve the Epidermal Permeability Barrier. The British Journal of Dermatology. (September 2000).

  14. Snaidr, V.A., et al. Nicotinamide for photoprotection and skin cancer chemoprevention. Experimental Dermatology. (2019, January 30).

  15. Surjana D., et al. Nicotinamide Enhances Repair of Ultraviolet Radiation-Induced DNA Damage in Human Keratinocytes and Ex Vivo Skin. OUP Academic; Carcinogenesis. (2013, January 24).

  16. Żukiewicz-Sobczak, W.A., et al. Allergy to Selected Cosmetic Ingredients. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. (2013, October 30).

  17. Cádiz-Gurrea, M.D. L., et al. Advantages of Hyaluronic Acid and Its Combination with Other Bioactive Ingredients in Cosmeceuticals. Molecules. (August 2021).

  18. Pullar, J.M., et al. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin HealthNutrients. (August 2017).

  19. Levin, J. and Momin, S.B. How Much Do We Really Know about Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients? The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Ibid.

  20. Park, H.J., et al. The Combination of Niacinamide, Vitamin C, and PDRN Mitigates Melanogenesis by Modulating Nicotinamide Nucleotide Transhydrogenase. Molecules. Ibid.

Laura Phelan is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She earned her Masters of Science in Nursing at Benedictine University and went on to get her post-master’s certificate as a Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Cincinnati.

*Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
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Curology Team

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Laura Phelan, NP-C

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