Retinoids, acids and vitamin C might be the queen bees of skin care ingredients, but dozens of worker bees in your products also help transform your skin.
Thanks to its versatility for almost any skin care concern and skin type, Niacinamide is one of them.
Before we talk about what niacinamide does for our skin, we need to understand how skin functions.
Skin is truly amazing. Our largest organ keeps the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. The skin barrier is the outermost layer and works as our first line of defense against the outside world, including pollution, UV rays and bacteria. Soft, plump, firm, hydrated skin is the sign of a proper barrier function.
It’s incredibly easy to throw off your skin’s barrier function, however, including by overexposure to the sun, over-exfoliation, daily environmental stress or using harsh, drying ingredients. You’ll know if your barrier is compromised because your skin will feel dry, rough and sensitized. In this state, your skin also is more susceptible to irritation, breakouts and signs of aging.
Thankfully, niacinamide is your skin barrier’s best friend.
Another name for vitamin B3, niacinamide boosts ceramide production, which supports the skin barrier. I’ve heard ceramides compared to cement between bricks (or skin cells), keeping everything sealed together. Niacinamide also has been shown to increase production of collagen, a protein that acts like the scaffolding of your skin and gives it its structure.
Through kick-starting both collagen and ceramide production, niacinamide creates a strong barrier, which leads to improved elasticity. This reduces the appearance of enlarged pores and leads to a more even skin tone. Peach & Lily Glass Skin Serum combines niacinamide, peptides, hyaluronic acid and extracts to create clear, smooth and translucent skin.
Free radicals and environmental damage can hurt the skin, make it appear dull over time and expedite the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Because of its ability to improve the skin’s barrier, niacinamide reduces the impact of free radicals for a healthy, fresh complexion and has been shown to fade dark spots. Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment works to reduce the look of dark spots and hyperpigmentation left behind by blemishes, sun damage and aging as well as uneven skin tone.
It also is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it useful in treating acne. Glossier Super Pure Serum blends 5% niacinamide with zinc PCA to balance the complexion, smooth texture and help reduce congestion in pores without irritation. The Inkey List Niacinamide helps regulate skin’s sebum production, which can lead to fewer blackheads and breakouts.
One of the most unique things about niacinamide is its compatibility with other ingredients. A holy grail of mine, Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, not only contains niacinamide to even skin tone, visibly reduce the look of pores and soften fine lines but also is packed with more skin-loving ingredients to banish dullness and dryness. Vitamins C and E brighten and replenish skin, chestnut extract exfoliates and makes complexion look more radiant and fresh, and sodium hyaluronate boosts moisture.
You also can use multiple products in your routine that contain niacinamide, and it shouldn’t irritate or sensitize your skin at all. It’s even safe for sensitive or rosacea-prone skin. (Stranger things have happened, so always do a patch test first.)
If you check your ingredient lists, you may already be using products that contain niacinamide. It’s a great addition to any skin care routine and, with its host of uses, there’s definitely a niacinamide product that’s right for you.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT