Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3 has been one of the most popular ingredients in skincare products for the past couple of years.
An all-rounder with the ability to address multiple skin concerns, from inflammatory conditions to pigmentary disorders, niacinamide has been shown to be effective and beneficial to all skin types, including the most sensitive and reactive skin out there.
And one of its most notable properties is the ability to help with acne and blemishes, as well as other skin woes that occur due to imbalances in sebum and bacteria.
Therefore, in this article, we will take a closer look at how this wonder ingredient works, how to use it in your daily routine, how to combine it with other products for the best results, and most importantly, how does niacinamide help with acne.
Table of Contents
What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide is one of the two active forms of vitamin B3, an essential nutrient for skin health known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and barrier-strengthening properties.
The other form of vitamin B3 is known as nicotinic acid or niacin, and while it has similar benefits to niacinamide, the two molecules have different strengths and perform different roles in skin health and function.
Belonging to a water-soluble group of vitamins, niacin is also present in many nutritious foods; however, while our body benefits more from eating foods rich in niacin, our skin absorbs niacinamide better, making it the preferred form for skincare products.
This is why niacinamide has become a popular ingredient in beauty and skincare products, as it is known to be effective in addressing several skin concerns as well as offer multiple benefits for the skin.
And due to niacinamide being a high-quality ingredient that’s easy to formulate and works well with most other ingredients in skincare, it’s commonly found in anything from cleansers, toners, serums, moisturizers, and even sunscreens.
This allows niacinamide to work across multiple levels of the skin, depending on the formulation, and can be used for various skin types and concerns.
From reducing sun damage, evening out the skin tone, improving the appearance of enlarged pores, and hydrating the complexion, niacinamide is an all-rounder ingredient that can help you achieve various skin goals.
It is also generally well-tolerated and can be used daily. So, if you’re looking to add a multi-tasking ingredient to your skincare routine, niacinamide is definitely worth considering!
How Can You Increase Natural Niacinamide Production?
As we already mentioned, the other form of vitamin B3, or niacin, is found in many nutritious foods and can be highly beneficial for overall health.
In fact, niacin deficiency has been shown to cause a variety of health concerns, from skin problems to digestive issues.
One of the most dangerous consequences of niacin deficiency is Pellagra, which is a degenerative disease characterized by a dark, sometimes scaly rash on the skin, bright redness of the tongue, and constipation or diarrhea.
Other signs of severe niacin deficiency can include fatigue, headaches, and depression.
This is why increasing your intake of foods that are rich in niacin can be a great way to boost your overall health and also improve the health and appearance of your skin.
Therefore, to increase natural niacinamide production, consider doing the following:
Incorporating foods that are rich in vitamin B3 is the best way to naturally increase the production of niacin in the body.
Foods like eggs, green veggies, beans, milk, poultry, beef, and certain fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are all excellent sources of niacin.
Additionally, various seeds, nuts, legumes, grains, and fortified cereals can be a great addition to your diet if you prefer snacking on something that will help increase your niacin levels without committing to a full meal.
However, making diet changes that will help clear your skin and improve your complexion is definitely one of those things that’s easier said than done, and despite doing a ton of research, you will surely need some help to get started.
Therefore, if you’re interested in making smart diet changes that will not only help you feel your best but also improve your skin, check out GoodGlow’s ebook which is an excellent resource packed with beneficial information on how to reduce breakouts by lowering inflammation through an easy-to-understand and follow diet plan.
If you’re unable to get enough niacin from food, taking a supplement is another great option to increase your natural niacin levels.
Niacin supplements contain high amounts of the active substance, and studies have shown they can increase HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) in the body, which is excellent for improving cardiovascular health.
Additionally, niacin supplements release prostaglandins or chemicals that help your blood vessels widen, improving blood flow and reducing high blood pressure.
However, with that said, niacin supplements might not be the best route for increasing niacin levels in the body for everyone.
For example, people with a history of liver disease, kidney disease, or stomach ulcers should not take niacin supplements due to the increased risk of developing certain side effects such as stomach irritation or liver problems.
Additionally, those with diabetes or gallbladder disease, as well as pregnant or breastfeeding women and children, should only take niacin supplements under the close supervision of their health provider.
Finally, it would be best to stop taking niacin supplements at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery, as they can affect the anesthesia or bleeding time.
Lifestyle changes won’t have an effect on niacin levels in the body; however, if you are particularly interested in improving your skin health, introducing skincare products that contain niacinamide into your routine is a good way to start.
Start by using leave-on products like toners and serums, as these have higher concentrations of niacinamide and are left on the skin for longer, which makes them work better and provide you with better results.
If you have sensitive and reactive skin, choosing a moisturizer that contains niacinamide might be a better idea, as these usually have lower concentrations of niacinamide that won’t irritate your skin but will still provide you with all the benefits.
On the other hand, while using cleansers and masks that contain niacinamide may help improve some skin concerns like hyperpigmentation and uneven texture, they may not be as effective since they tend to stay on the skin for a shorter time, and this usually isn’t enough for significant results.
How Does Niacinamide Work?
Niacinamide is excellent for addressing multiple skin concerns and improving the skin’s overall health and appearance.
Some benefits of using niacinamide include the following:
Niacinamide has a soothing and healing effect on the skin, which can help reduce the inflammation that comes with acne.
Niacinamide also soothes redness and irritation, and as a result, pimples will look smaller, less irritated, and will heal faster.
Additionally, niacinamide can also balance out the skin’s production of oil, and this can be super beneficial for those with excessively oily and acne-prone skin as it can help reduce clogging caused by excess sebum and thus lead to fewer breakouts.
Improved Skin Tone
Niacinamide is an excellent brightening agent that can help reduce hyperpigmentation, including dark spots and melasma.
It works by inhibiting the production of the skin’s natural pigment, melanin, thus preventing hyperpigmented cells from forming and traveling to the skin’s surface, which will even out the skin tone after some time of using it.
Niacinamide can also help reduce blotchiness, redness, and dark circles around the eyes, leading to an even and uniform complexion.
Coarse skin texture is a common sign of dehydration but can also be caused by the overproduction of skin cells.
Niacinamide can help unclog pores, reduce the appearance of enlarged pores, and reduce sebaceous filaments, leading to a smoother, softer, and more refined skin texture.
Additionally, thanks to its hydrating properties, niacinamide can drastically improve skin’s overall texture.
Strengthened Skin Barrier
Niacinamide is an ingredient that can help promote the formation of ceramides, which are the building blocks of the skin’s barrier, an essential part of healthy skin that helps prevent foreign pathogens from entering the body.
The skin barrier can become compromised due to many factors; however, some of the most common ones include dehydration, excessive exfoliation, harsh skincare products, extremes of temperatures, and even the climate you live in.
This is when the skin starts experiencing issues like acne, dermatitis, and even allergies because a compromised skin barrier doesn’t protect the skin from pathogenic bacteria that can trigger these unwanted conditions.
And by strengthening the skin barrier, niacinamide provides you with the foundation of happy, healthy, and glowing skin.
Free Radical Defense
Niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects against damage from environmental aggressors like cell-damaging UV rays, pollution that contains harmful particles, or even poorly formulated cosmetic products.
In other words, its antioxidant properties help protect the skin from premature aging caused by oxidative damage, as well as issues like hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, texture, and blotchiness that could affect the complexion due to free radical activity.
Does Niacinamide Need to Be Prescribed?
Niacinamide is an ingredient found in most over-the-counter skincare products; however, it may also be prescribed by a healthcare professional for certain skin conditions, depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s needs.
Niacinamide would only need to be prescribed if the ingredient is found in products only available through prescription, like tretinoin, clindamycin, Finacea, Epiduo, adapalene, and steroid creams, which are typically prescribed to those with severe acne, rosacea, or eczema.
On the other hand, taking niacin supplements doesn’t require a prescription; however, it’s always a good idea to consult a doctor if you are interested in supplementing with this vitamin.
Niacinamide Side Effects
Niacinamide is one of the safest ingredients used in skincare products, and as such, the potential for experiencing side effects from using it is incredibly low.
However, each individual is unique, and so is our skin. Therefore, it is still possible for niacinamide to cause a few potential side effects for some, though these occurrences are typically mild and temporary, or there is a reason behind it.
Some potential side effects of niacinamide can include dryness, irritation, stinging, burning, peeling, purging, and skin texture.
However, there are several potential reasons for these adverse reactions that range from using products that are too strong for the skin, overusing niacinamide, a reaction to other ingredients in the product, or simply using a poorly formulated product.
Therefore, if you experience any side effects of niacinamide, it might be best to pause use for a little while and slowly reintroduce the ingredient once the skin has had time to adjust while monitoring any potential reactions.
Sometimes the skin might take a little longer to adjust to the ingredient, but there’s always a possibility that the product might not work even after trying it out multiple times with breaks in between, which should be a sign to discontinue use altogether.
Can Niacinamide Be Combined With Other Products?
Niacinamide is an ingredient found in many skincare products, both as an active or supporting ingredient.
This is because niacinamide is a very gentle ingredient that’s easy to formulate and works well with other ingredients.
As such, niacinamide can be combined with other products which contain actives to address multiple skin concerns.
Some excellent ingredients that can be combined with niacinamide include:
An excellent combo for dry, dehydrated, and sensitive skin, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide work together to lock in moisture and soothe the skin while boosting hydration levels.
Hydrated skin has a stronger barrier, is more resilient, and can defend itself from foreign pathogens more efficiently while also looking glowy and radiant.
Frequently found in anti-acne toners and serums, niacinamide and zinc are a dream combo for anyone with oily and acne-prone skin.
While niacinamide balances oiliness, soothes the skin and improves pigmentary disorders, zinc helps calm inflammation and accelerate healing so that the possibility of these issues is significantly reduced in the future.
Another excellent ingredient to combine with your niacinamide products is salicylic acid.
A master exfoliator that dissolves the buildup of cellular debris and bacteria inside the pores, salicylic acid helps reduce blackheads, whiteheads, blemishes, and even post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Refining, soothing, and brightening, this combo will keep your skin clear, blemish-free, smooth, and radiant.
Whether you’re using over-the-counter retinol or a prescription option, niacinamide can be a great addition to your retinoid routine.
The combination of niacinamide and retinol boosts the rate at which cells renew themselves, keeps the pores clear and free from buildup, reduces acne, fades hyperpigmentation, and refines the skin texture.
One of the best combinations for every skin type and skin concern, niacinamide and retinoids can be used both in a separate routine or together, depending on your skin’s individual needs.
An excellent combo for pigmentary disorders, such as hyperpigmentation, melasma, and sun spots, niacinamide, and vitamin C are a dynamic duo that can brighten the skin, reduce oxidative stress, refine texture, and protect from environmental damage.
Oil-regulating, anti-inflammatory, and perfect for boosting the skin’s immune system, this combo is a powerhouse for any skin that needs an extra pick-me-up.
Frequently Asked Questions
Topical niacinamide can help with acne scars and is exceptionally efficient when it comes to discolored or hyperpigmented scarring due to its ability to inhibit the enzymes responsible for producing excess melanin in response to inflammation.
This action will halt the overproduction of melanin, which is the brown pigment in the skin, and not only help new hyperpigmented cells from forming but also help lighten up existing ones.
Additionally, niacinamide can also help improve post-inflammatory redness, which are the red marks left behind after a breakout as a result of a ruptured blood vessel under the skin.
Notoriously difficult to treat, post-inflammatory erythema can be improved with regular niacinamide application, as this ingredient helps strengthen the skin barrier and repair irregularities like broken blood vessels under the skin.
Finally, niacinamide can also help refine uneven skin texture and improve atrophic acne scarring over time; however, professional treatments will likely be needed for this type of scarring to disappear fully.
Niacinamide can help soothe the redness, size, and severity of hormonal acne; however, this condition will likely keep coming back until the internal imbalance is resolved through food or medication.
On the other hand, niacin, or the oral form of vitamin B3, is not likely to help with the underlying cause of hormonal acne because it’s not a substance that has the ability to regulate or even affect hormones.
Niacinamide can, in some cases, help with comedonal acne, which is caused by a buildup of sebum and dead skin cells that block pores and form a plug.
Niacinamide will balance out oil production, regulate sebum secretion, and improve the skin’s moisture barrier, which will help reduce inflammation and make it less likely that a pore will become clogged, to begin with.
Although comedonal acne is likely to disappear when an exfoliating agent or a retinoid is introduced alongside niacinamide, this antioxidant alone can improve the issue on its own in some mild to moderate cases.