How Skincare Hero Niacinamide Can Boost Your Glow

·9-min read

Move over mandelic and step aside squalane, because there’s a new kid on the beauty block set to become a staple skincare ingredient. Its name? Niacinamide.

Revered by dermatologists for its ability to banish breakouts, strengthen the skin barrier and dial up your glow, beauty enthusiasts are now also cottoning on to its beauty benefits as online searches for niacinamide have spiked a whopping 193%.

Not sure as to whether it's worthy of a spot in your skincare arsenal? Here's everything you need to know about this vital skin vitamin and what the experts have to say about it.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a superhero vitamin if ever there was one. Part of the vitamin B3 family, this ingredient naturally occurs in food such as grains, fish, meat and beans. Oral intake of the ingredient has many health benefits, but for the skin, topical niacinamide can work wonders for helping to achieve a clear and bright complexion, too.

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'It's used in skincare because of its ability to be a strong "cell communicator". This essentially means that it has the ability to chemically speak to all sorts of skin cells, so that they know to make more new, healthy cells,' explains Dr. Janet Mason, in-house skin expert at Q+A.

She adds 'niacinamide has a particular ability to interrupt the transfer of melanosomes which cause hyperpigmentation but is also a fantastic anti-inflammatory ingredient, helping to reduce acne, redness and discomfort.'

What does niacinamide do to your skin?

In a nutshell, it can help give brighter, smoother and revitalised skin, improve tone and minimise visible pores.

'It is renowned for its skin boosting benefits,' reveals Dr Mason. 'Niacinamide works by increasing the production of ceramides, a type of lipid (a fat) which are present in the top layers of your skin, helping to form the natural barrier which helps retain moisture and repel irritants and pollution.'

'Not only that, niacinamide acts like a magnet for extracting dirt and oil so is ideal for all skin types but especially oily or blemish-prone skin. It’s a great ingredient to include in toners as it can boost the performance of your moisturisers and serums as it enhances the absorption process when balancing the skin,' adds Dr Mason.

What is niacinamide used for?

Below, Consultant Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto reveals what niacinamide is used for in skincare.

  • 'Skin barrier improvement: it reduces water loss from the epidermis and increases lipids (ceramides) and proteins found in the skin barrier layer.'

  • 'Dark spots/pigmentation/age spots: studies show niacinamide reduces the appearance of hyperpigmented spots in both Asian and Caucasian skin by acting on the steps leading to melanin or pigment production.'

  • 'Improvement in skin texture and sebum: niacinamide reduces sebum or oil production in the skin which may indirectly help with the improvement of visible pore size. It can also be helpful in mild acne.'

  • 'Environmental protection: topical niacinamide has been shown to reduce redness caused by sunlight - it is thought to act as an anti-inflammatory agent.'

  • 'Wrinkles: studies show it may play a small role in reducing fine wrinkles.'

Can all skin types use niacinamide?

'Niacinamide can be found in a varying range of concentrations in skincare and is usually well-tolerated causing minimal skin irritation. Ideally, look for products that contain at least 5% niacinamide for best results and ensure that it features highly (top three to five) on the ingredients’ list of a product,' advises Dr Mahto.

So, should we all be rushing out to buy niacinamide-containing skincare? 'Not necessarily,' explains Dr Mahto. 'It depends on your specific skincare concern, it's worth a go if you’re worried about dark age spots but probably not the best choice for fighting wrinkles and it certainly isn’t a replacement for daily sunscreen,' she adds.

If you're unsure about whether you need to incorporate it into your routine, Dr Mahto advises that 'you should a chat with your dermatologist, who will be able to guide you based on your individual skin.'

Can I use niacinamide every day?

Dr Paris Acharya, a leading cosmetic doctor based on Harley Street, explains that you can incorporate niacinamide into a daily regime that’s specifically tailored to your skin’s needs. 'Combine it with a gentle cleanser and a broad spectrum SPF in the morning to ensure that your skin has global protection from extrinsic ageing caused by pollution and the sun.’

How long does niacinamide take to work?

‘If you use niacinamide on your skin you might notice some effects immediately, although most people experience results after eight to twelve weeks,’ reveals Dr Acharya.

What ingredients can you use with niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a great ingredient to add into a retinol formulation, as it infuses extra antioxidant benefits to the skin. Niacinamide is calming, increases the skin’s tolerance and also reduces sensitivity, making it the perfect partner for retinol which can often be too irritating for some,' continues Dr Acharya.

'The only interaction to be aware of is that niacinamide inactivates L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C) – but only if it is in a combined water-based product. So, you can still use niacinamide and vitamin c, but they should be in different products and preferably not used back to back,' she adds.

Is niacinamide safe to use?

‘Niacinamide is suitable for most skin types. Used topically, niacinamide is extremely safe. The only noted side effects of topical niacinamide are mild itching, redness and burning. However, these are rare and often go away over time as your skin becomes more accustomed to the substance,' adds Dr Acharya.

The 11 best niacinamide skincare products

1. The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

A must-have if you suffer from breakouts, this potent serum contains 10% niacinamide and 1 % Zinc to help steady the flow of oil in the skin, reduce spot-causing bacteria and strengthen the skin barrier. Its price point is a winner, too.

2. Paula's Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment

If you were lax on the SPF during summer and are noticing the first signs of sun damage, then let Paula's Choice latest product come to your rescue. This highly concentrated niacinamide treatment works brilliantly at tightening and minimises sagging pores and zapping those annoying rough bumps caused by UV exposure.

3. Garden of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum

Formulated with concentration of 5% niacinamide and combined with a firming tripeptide concentrate, this serum quickly helps to improve the tone of texture of ageing skin.

4. Olay Regenerist Luminous Niacinamide Serum

If you've not managed to get some sunshine on a European break this year, then fake it with the help of Olay. The glow inducing formula deploys niacinamide to regenerate skin leaving a fresh-looking appearance.

5. COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid

If you're looking to get tough on pesky pores, then reach or this. The formula combines hydrating sodium hyaluronate with white willow bark and niacinamide to eliminate dirt and dead skin cells that cause blackheads. It also contains 4% natural BHA component of betaine salicylate, which prevents breakouts from forming in the first place.

6. PCA Skin Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum

The dual action redness relief contains 4% niacinamide which reduces transepidermal water loss while maintaining the skin's protective barrier system. It also helps reduce excess oil production, improves congestion and breakouts as well as targeting textural changes and uneven skin tone. A brilliant all-rounder.

7. bareMinerals Skinlongevity Long Life Herb Serum

If you're plagued by a sensitive complexion then your skin barrier needs some serious TLC. BareMinerals newest serum harnesses niacinamide to reinforce the top layers of your skin so that is can keep hydration in and UV rays and pollutants out. Clever.

8. Erborian Red Pepper Pulp

If dull skin is your beauty bête noire then reach for this tub of magic. Its creamy texture melts onto skin to provide a daily energising re-charge, think of it as a smoothie for you skin. Niacinamide illuminates while hyaluronic acid plumps and hydrates.

9. Venn Vitamin B Activated All-In-One Concentrate, 50ml

A super science-y product, this combines 11 amino acids (indispensable for healthy skin) with 6 B vitamins, including niacinamide, which helps to amplifies the B vitamins’ efficacy on the skin, effectively supercharging the overall benefits to the skin.

10. IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Dark Spots Concentrated Derma Serum

Suitable for all skin types (even those with sensitive skin), this clever formula is perfect for fading age spots and sun spots. Blended with 4% niacinamide and 1% ethyl vitamin C, it works to unify tone and texture, thanks to intense brightening benefits.

11. Typology Unifying Serum 12% Niacinamide

With 84% naturally derived ingredients, this super serum works to reduce imperfections and soothes the redness caused by blemishes.

12. Allies Of Skin Prebiotics & Niacinamide Pore Refining Booster

Loaded with pre and probiotics, this soothing serum helps to promote a healthy glow, while reducing the look of hyperpigmentation and large pores. Winner.

13. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum

A great one for blemish scars, sunspots and discolouration of the skin – this hardworking serum brightens the skin and evens skin tone, leaving your complexion clear and glowing.

14. Dr Dennis Gross Skincare B3 Adaptive Superfoods Stress Rescue Super Serum

Specifically formulated for those leading urban lifestyles, this clever serum helps to neutralise free-radical damage caused by environmental stressors – like pollution and smoke. It also works to minimise visible signs of stress-induced ageing, including dullness, worry lines, enlarged pores, blemishes and hyperpigmentation, an essential for modern life.

15. Algenist Algae Niacinamide Moisture Veil

Packed with Algenist's famous alguronic acid, which helps to intensely nourish your skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines – this niacinamide-rich formula also helps to even out the texture and appearance of your skin. For a clearer, more radiant-looking complexion.

16. Sunday Riley 5 Starts Retinoid + Niacinamide Eye Serum

This targeted eye serum works to rehydrate the delicate eye area, while smoothing fine lines, boosting collagen production and diminishing the appearance of dark circles.

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