Niacinamide (nahy-uh-sin-uh-mahyd) may seem confusing to say, but the skincare benefits of this vitamin B derivative are crystal clear. It’s no wonder this potent powerhouse is added to everything from serums to sunscreen — read on to learn why.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide is the biologically active form of vitamin B3 — which is also called niacin or nicotinic acid. It’s the safest, most universally-suitable form of vitamin B3 that’s used in skincare.
And though its name may sound synthetic, niacinamide is actually a water-soluble vitamin that’s naturally found in food. Because the ingredient works best when it’s applied in a leave-on product, it’s typically found in serums and moisturizers, rather than cleansers or scrubs.
What makes niacinamide such a powerful ingredient?
Niacinamide is a multi-tasking antioxidant. This B vitamin excels at several key skincare functions:
Strengthens your skin barrier
- Works on a cellular level to repair and strengthen our skin barrier by increasing the number of ceramides in the skin, which means skin loses less moisture
- Preventing skin from drying out keeps your complexion healthier, minimizing everything from fine lines to maskne
Helps relieve redness and inflammation
- Reduces the production of inflammatory chemicals naturally released within the skin
- Calms irritated skin and reduces redness associated with acne, eczema and rosacea
- Reduces skin’s sebum production levels
- Ideal for those with acne or acne-prone skin
- Helps minimize pore size
- Reduces redness and inflammation
Combats the signs of aging
- Diminishes fine lines and wrinkles by firming skin and improving elasticity
- Strengthens skin’s barrier function to prevent UV and environmental damage
- Reduces hyperpigmentation (aka sunspots)
- Reduces redness and inflammation
Who benefits from having niacinamide in their skincare regimen?
Everyone! Niacinamide is suitable for, and will benefit, all ages and skin types. It can be used morning or night, is calming to the skin, and is stable to heat and light. Niacinamide is also completely safe for use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you have sensitive skin, niacinamide can be a great first step before progressing onto retinoids, as it helps increase your skin’s tolerance to them.
Can you combine niacinamide with vitamin C?
There’s a popular myth that you can’t use niacinamide in conjunction with vitamin C, as they cancel each other out — but this notion has been scientifically disproven. The false belief is based on an outdated study involving un-stabilized forms of the two vitamins, as well as unrealistic pH and heat levels. Niacinamide can, in fact, work well with vitamin C — and thanks to the wonders of modern cosmetic chemistry, the two ingredient superstars are now routinely combined effectively.
What skincare products contain niacinamide?
As we mentioned earlier, vitamin B-3 performs best in products designed to spend more time on your skin (think: moisturizers, serums and toners). Here are some of Dr. Lee’s top picks:
SLMD Skincare All Bright Niacinamide Brightening Toner: Powered by a blend of clinically proven ingredients — niacinamide, vitamin C, arbutin, and resveratrol, this gentle, light-weight toner visibly brightens and tightens, exfoliates, and smooths for glowing, energized-looking skin.
SLMD Skincare Bright Future Vitamin C Serum: This potent serum is formulated with skin-loving ingredients and powerhouse antioxidants — ascorbic acid, niacinamide, ferulic acid, and hyaluronic acid. Each drop works to tackle dullness and uneven skin tone — revealing radiant, luminous, and brighter-looking skin.
SLMD Skincare Dark Spot Fix: A potent combination including spot-fading hydroquinone, skin-brightening niacinamide, exfoliating salicylic acid, and antioxidant kojic acid to aid in the prevention of future pigmentation. Visually improves dark spots to reveal a more radiant, even-looking complexion.
SLMD Skincare BP Body Wash: This all-over cleanser is formulated with acne bacteria-busting benzoyl peroxide, plus soothing, healing niacinamide to battle body acne without causing irritation. This powerful, creamy cleansing gel is gentle enough for daily use.
SLMD Skincare Body Seal: A rich, ultra-repairing cream infused with the calming benefits of colloidal oatmeal, to bring soothing relief to dry, itchy, eczema-prone skin. Vitamin B3 protects and strengthens the skin barrier, locking in moisture.
SLMD Skincare UV Bounce: A broad spectrum mineral powder SPF 30 with a brush-on applicator for easy re-application throughout the day. Available in 3 adaptable shades, use as a finish to makeup, a mattifying touch-up powder, or alone for natural-looking coverage on the face, scalp and back of the hands.
Dr. Lee’s Last Word
Niacinamide is truly one of those wonder ingredients that is so versatile and beneficial for addressing a variety of concerns. It’s moisturizing, but it also helps control sebum production, so we can use it on acne-prone skin and aging skin, too. It’s anti-inflammatory, so it works for patients with sensitive skin and those with conditions like eczema or rosacea. And because it bolsters your skin’s barrier function, it guards against all kinds of environmental damage.
— Dr. Sandra Lee