Is niacinamide the key to great skin?

With a plethora of ingredients touted as being the next skin savior, it can be tricky to decipher what actually works. Hailed by dermatologists as the ultimate multitasker, niacinamide is the universal crowd-pleasing ingredient. RHEA CARTWRIGHT reveals why it deserves a place in your skincare regimen


Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, is a naturally occurring ingredient that plays a crucial role in supporting healthy skin. While B vitamins are known to be soothing and calming on the nervous system, niacinamide is a powerhouse ingredient for skin because it treats multiple concerns. “Niacinamide is a key ingredient with antioxidant benefits; it has the ability to improve the skin barrier and hyperpigmentation while decreasing fine lines and wrinkles,” explains renowned skin expert and plastic surgeon Dr Marko Lens, founder of Zelens.

Counting multiple skin benefits and the fact that niacinamide works well on all skin types and ages, it’s easy to see why dermatologists and skin experts recommend the all-rounder. Boosting powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it’s well tolerated even for those with sensitive skin and is also safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which can be periods when skin issues occur due to hormonal fluctuations.

Boost your skin’s defences with niacinamide

Niacinamide helps to strengthen the skin barrier – the outermost protective layer of the skin. Although often unintentional, it’s surprisingly easy to damage the barrier with stress, pollution or UV exposure, as well as misuse of products, such as over-using exfoliating acids or harsh cleansers. By preventing moisture loss, niacinamide helps to nourish and reinforce the barrier while also acting as a powerful anti-inflammatory to soothe angry, acne-prone skin or rosacea. Given that niacinamide is a great team player, it’s often found in products with other skin-restoring ingredients such as ceramides and glycerin, which deeply repair and hydrate skin that is red, irritated or flaky.

Use niacinamide as a retinol reset

Although retinol is known as the gold standard in anti-aging, it can come with unwanted irritation and dryness. According to research, using niacinamide in your skincare routine helps hydrate and protect the skin, which can reduce the risk of irritation caused by retinol. Together, the power duo is a game changer. If you’re new to retinol, it’s still important to start slowly and build up your skin’s tolerance to it. If using two separate products, the typical skin layering rules apply of using the lightest formulation first, followed by heavier textures. Alternatively, the pair can be combined in a single product such as Noble Panacea’s remarkable The Absolute Intense Renewal Serum.

Niacinamide can reduce the appearance of pores

“Niacinamide is a brilliant ingredient for those concerned with pore size, as research has shown it can help to visibly minimize and tighten enlarged or lax pores,” says leading skin expert Paula Begoun, founder of Paula’s Choice. While nothing can permanently shrink pores, regular use of niacinamide can dramatically refine their appearance. For those with oily or combination skin, it can also help to regulate oil production, which in turn prevents breakouts. Your skin type will determine the optimum texture to use, but Begoun recommends using gels and fluids for oilier skin and more hydrating creams for those with dryer skin.

Up your free-radical and UV protection

Niacinamide is a high-performing antioxidant that helps fight free-radical damage caused by internal factors such as stress, lack of sleep, poor diet and smoking. Despite spending considerably less time outdoors, external aggressors such as pollution and UV exposure are still heavily present at home. Similar to vitamin C, niacinamide protects against oxidative stress and is also great at tackling stubborn hyperpigmentation. Often found in a serum as an antioxidant, it’s ideal for daytime use layered underneath a broad-spectrum SPF for the ultimate daily protection.

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