May 18, 2024

What Is Niacinamide & How Does It Benefit Your Skin?

The word ‘powerhouse’ often prefaces a skincare ingredient but when it comes to niacinamide, it just so happens to be true. Such is its ability to multi-task, niacinamide became one of the most Googled skincare ingredients during lockdown, offering much-needed solace when our skin was throwing a tantrum.

Like the Swiss Army knife of skincare actives, niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, has been shown to brighten, dial down redness, prevent wrinkles, dust off hyperpigmentation, curb oil production and keep the skin barrier strong. A pretty impressive roll call, we think you’d agree.

But if you want to know more about niacinamide and how to use it for the most transformative results (there is a right and a wrong way), allow our panel of experts – dermatologist, pharmacist, facialist and two aesthetic doctors – to explain.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of Vitamin B3 (niacin). It is water-soluble, meaning that it is not stored in the body, so it’s crucial to replenish our niacinamide reserves orally via the food we eat (poultry, green vegetables and eggs are good sources), and topically with targeted skincare products.

“Our bodies require niacinamide for healthy digestion, improved circulation and brain function,” explains Shabir Daya, pharmacist at Victoria Health. As for our skin, aesthetic doctor Dr Barbara Sturm says, niacinamide “has overarching benefits for skin health and has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can improve skin texture, moisture and functionality. ”

What does niacinamide do for your skin?

How you use niacinamide largely comes down to which skincare concerns you’re looking to target.

Acne, rosacea and sensitivity:

Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an attractive option for those who suffer from rosacea and sensitivity – both the type that you’re born with, as well as temporary post-product irritation that manifests as redness and stinging.

But it’s especially helpful for oily and combination skin types, explains Dr Anjali Mahto, as “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 treating mild acne. » Clinical facialist, Kate Kerr, concurs on this last point, adding that niacinamide «has antibacterial effects, which improve congestion and calm breakouts. ”

Though not necessarily a spot treatment in the same way that salicylic acid zaps active pimples, the inclusion of a niacinamide serum will help to keep skin balanced in order to prevent breakouts in the first place. Put simply, it’s a less aggressive approach to keeping skin on track.

In fact, a study published in the International Journal of Dermatology found that 4% niacinamide, applied topically twice daily for eight weeks, significantly improved moderate acne.

Barrier function:

«Niacinamide has been shown to strengthen the skin barrier function, making it especially beneficial for skin prone to dehydration,» says Shabir. In practical terms what this means is that “niacinamide reduces water loss from the epidermis and increases lipids (ceramides) and proteins found in the skin barrier layer,” notes Dr Mahto, adding that a strong skin barrier keeps irritants and pollution out.

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