Niacinamide (ny-a-cin-a-myde) has existed in our skincare products for decades, but the recent popularity of single-ingredient skincare helped this chemical draw attention. As a skincare ingredient, niacinamide is an absolute show-off tackling everything from oil production to pigmentation.
What is niacinamide?
To understand the benefits that niacinamide has for the skin, we first need to know what it is. Niacinamide is also known as a type of vitamin B3, a class of vitamins famous for its soothing and healing abilities.
This chemical makes its way into our skin by way of our diet. Foods like grains, fish, meat and beans all help deliver niacinamide to the body. If you’re not one for any of these foods, oral supplements and topical applications do the job too.
Once it’s entered our bodies, niacinamide works by helping the skin’s moisture barrier to function (it’s actually pretty vital). Here, this skincare superhero regulates sebum production and increases lipids called ceramides.
It may seem like the term ‘moisture barrier’ is thrown around a lot, but it’s very beneficial for understanding the skin’s purpose. Basically, this barrier helps us keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. Without it, we open ourselves up to sensitisation, irritation, infections, UV damage and water loss. None of which are things we want.
What benefits does niacinamide have for our skin?
Due to its antioxidant, hydrating, healing and regulating behaviours, niacinamide is often used topically to treat a whole host of skin conditions.
Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory and barrier strengthening properties coupled with its ability to reduce sebum production is what makes this ingredient so popular in treating acne and reducing the appearance of pores.
The benefit’s of niacinamide doesn’t stop with acne. Studies have shown that niacinamide can be very effective in targeting rosacea when used in creams and moisturisers.
An open randomised study has also previously linked niacinamide with the reduction of seborrheic dermatitis symptoms. Again, this is no surprise, given its ability to strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier, reduce inflammation and regulate oil.
Niacinamide, the hard worker that it is, also helps to boost collagen production and assist in cell turnover, which makes it useful inreducing hyperpigmentation. As an antioxidant, niacinamide also helps minimise UV damage that could make any existing hyperpigmentation worse (when coupled with SPF).
Fine lines and wrinkles
With all these benefits it makes sense that niacinamide also helps in preventing fine lines and wrinkles. A healthy skin barrier, collagen and free-radical defence are just some of the things that help keep the skin youthful.
It’s not known entirely just how niacinamide helps pores, but it has been suggested that this chemical also supports the regulation of the pore lining. Combined with regulating sebum and promoting cell turnover, niacinamide can prevent excessive pore-clogging, resulting in a smoother overall skin texture.
How to use niacinamide in your skincare routine
Niacinamide is also known to be gentle and safe for all skin types, and irritating reactions to this ingredient are uncommon, making it a low risk, high reward skin investment.
Niacinamide’s versatility and overall gentle nature means it can be packed into all kinds of products, from face washes to moisturisers. But if you’re looking for a little bit extra, you can often find this ingredient as a serum. Just apply a few drops to a clean, damp face; remember, a little goes a long way.
No matter what form, niacinamide can be used both day and night and is an excellent complement to other products such as SPF, retinol and hyaluronic acid. To layer ingredients such as these, apply your skincare from thinnest to thickest with toners, serums and treatments going first, followed by moisturisers or oils and then sun protection.