Here’s How Niacinamide Benefits Your Complexion (and How to Work It into Your Skin Care Routine)

We’re always happy to geek out over a buzzy skin care ingredient when we see it making the rounds on product labels. (See: lactic acid, rosehip oil, bakuchiol…) So when we started noticing the proliferation of niacinamide, we were surprised to learn that not only has it been around for a while but there’s a decent body of research behind the multipurpose vitamin. Here’s what you need to know about niacinamide’s benefits for your skin.

What Is Niacinamide Exactly?

“Niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 also known as nicotinamide, is a water-soluble vitamin that has potent antioxidant activity and reduces inflammation,” says board-certified dermatologist David Lortscher, CEO of Curology.

What Skin Issues Can It Treat?

It would be an exaggeration to call niacinamide a cure-all, but it does have a pretty extensive range when it comes to the conditions it can treat: acne, oil regulation, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores and sun damage. It’s especially good at repairing skin’s moisture barrier (aka its first line of defense) and protecting against environmental stressors—it’s even been shown to help prevent skin cancer in certain studies.

“Niacinamides nourish and calm redness and inflammation,” says Dendy Engelman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. She particularly likes niacinamide for dry and sensitive skin: “It has similar effects to retinol by strengthening the skin barrier, but it fortifies from the get-go without sensitivity or irritation.” Dr. Lortscher also has high praise: “Because of its role in repairing the skin barrier, niacinamide is one of the most effective treatments for photoaging [damage caused by UV rays], according to most anti-aging research.”

How Does It Work?

It starts to get technical here, but as Dr. Engelman explains it, “Niacinamide helps support the cells’ metabolic system, specifically fibroblasts. We use fibroblasts to make and repair DNA, which, in turn, activates collagen production. So by using niacinamides to boost fibroblast production, we are supporting collagen production and repairing damaged collagen.”

How Can I Work It Into My Routine?

Lots of products contain niacinamide—serums, moisturizers, even cleansers—and it works well in conjunction with other active ingredients, like retinol. It can be used both morning and night, though as with any good skin care regimen, you should follow it up with a sunscreen during the day.

“Niacinamide should be compatible with most other skin care products and is well tolerated by all skin types, including sensitive skin,” Dr. Lortscher says. For best results, use leave-on products with niacinamide. It’s safe to use around the eyes, and it may improve the appearance of under-eye darkness and wrinkles.”

Convinced yet? Check out a few of our favorite products containing the powerhouse ingredient below.

the ordinary niacinamide 10 zinc 1

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Of course, the uber-popular, wallet-friendly brand is on top of it. This serum is especially helpful for congested, acne-prone skin: The niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties calm active breakouts, while its oil-regulating properties (and the addition of zinc, which also keeps oil in check) help keep new ones from forming.

nia 24 intensive recovery complex

Nia 24 Intensive Recovery Complex

Nia 24 uses a patented form of niacinamide that’s designed to absorb better into skin (and therefore work its magic more effectively). This rich cream strengthens the skin barrier with its namesake ingredient, plus hyaluronic acid, licorice root extract, peptides and ceramides.

Buy it ($118)

neutrogena vitamin b3 niacinamide brightening face mask

Neutrogena Vitamin B3 Niacinamide Brightening Face Mask

Give parched, dull skin a quick pick-me-up with a five-star-rated gel sheet mask. Reviewers rave about its glow-inducing, hydrating properties and the fact that it’s gentle enough for sensitive skin.

instanatural dark spot corrector

Instanatural Dark Spot Corrector

Cursed by the ghosts of pimples past? Niacinamide, glycolic acid and NASA-developed plant stem cells (!) work together to combat hyperpigmentation and scarring.

one love organics vitamin b enzyme cleansing oil makeup remover
Credo Beauty

One Love Organics Vitamin B Enzyme Cleansing Oil + Makeup Remover

Derms, dry-skinned gals and makeup lovers alike know oil cleansers are a godsend for washing off the day’s makeup without stripping any precious natural moisture. This cleanser amps up the effects with niacinamide’s barrier-strengthening effects, plus offers a gentle exfoliation thanks to fruit enzyme.

Buy it ($42)

skinceuticals metacell renewal b3

Skinceuticals Metacell Renewal B3

SkinCeuticals’ serums are cult faves for a reason, and this 5 percent niacinamide serum is no exception. It’s amped up with amino acids, algae extract and peptides to target the effects of environmental stress and promote collagen production. 

purewow author


From 2016-2019 Carolyn Kuang-chen Stanley held the role of Editor covering food, travel and all things nyc.