The Guide to Niacinamide

Rebuilding aging skin (and defending against dark spots, too!)

Think of niacinamide as a builder. When UV rays and free radicals damage the structure of skin, this handy antioxidant does a top-notch repair job. One of the most thoroughly researched anti-aging ingredients out there, niacinamide has been shown to fight fine wrinkles, redness, and especially dark spots.

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What causes aging skin?

A quick refresher: the primary culprits in aging skin are UV rays and harmful compounds called free radicals (produced when your skin is exposed to certain pollutants or UV rays).

UV rays damage your skin by:

  1. Breaking down proteins that give structure to your skin
  2. Stimulating too much pigment, leading to discoloration or dark spots

Free radicals are unstable compounds. Because they are missing electrons, they'll try to nab them from other molecules — warping the structure of your skin and causing fine wrinkles.

Strengthening skin structure

Spent some time in the sun? Don't sweat it. Niacinamide's main construction project is repairing structural damage caused by UV rays and free radicals. How? Niacinamide works to:

  1. Stimulate the production of proteins, including keratin, that are vital to your outer layer of skin.
  2. Strengthen the barrier that holds in moisture in your skin, giving it a fuller, healthier look.
  3. Improve skin elasticity. Like a stretched-out t-shirt, saggy or wrinkled skin is lower in elasticity. Boosting elasticity means plumper, more supple, skin.

Minimizing dark spots and acne

One of niacinamide's greatest talents of all? Reducing dark spots, or hyperpigmentation.

UV rays set the skin's pigment factories, or melanosomes, to high gear. Pigment then ships to the outer layer of skin, where it surfaces as dark spots.

Niacinamide acts like a traffic cop on the pigment — blocking shipments to the outer layer. Dark spots start to fade when their regular supply of pigment is reduced!

Catching (free radical) thieves

Not only does niacinamide rebuild after damage, it protects skin structure from future damage by neutralizing those nasty free radicals.

How does it stop electron-stealing free radicals from harming your skin? Niacinamide actually gives the thieves a spare electron, so they don’t steal one from your skin's DNA.

As if this potent ingredient doesn't already do enough, niacinamide also reduces inflammation — meaning it helps reduce raised bumps, redness, and soreness.

Side effects

As niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, the skin reacts very minimally to it. Side effects such as irritation are unusual.

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Learn more

Curious about other anti-aging ingredients? We've got you covered — Curology's team of dermatology experts has helped create a whole lot more to help you understand your skin.

Check out our guides to tretinoin, vitamin C, and azelaic acid. See you around!


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