Niacinamide Is the Hero Ingredient That Supports Virtually Every Skin Concern, from Acne to Fine Lines
Most skin care ingredients have a particular function that addresses one or two concerns at most, but there's one standout that ticks off so many boxes, it's no surprise that it is beloved by experts and beauty enthusiasts alike: niacinamide. This workhorse is a form of vitamin B3, a water-soluble nutrient that has a variety of important functions in the skin, digestive, and nervous systems. "It's an essential nutrient," says Dr. Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Entière Dermatology. "It is one of the most potent anti-inflammatories in skin care and has an extraordinary ability to multitask." To learn more about niacinamide's benefits and how to incorporate it into your beauty routine, we asked Dr. Levin and board-certified dermatologist Dr. Hadley King to break down everything we need to know about this hero additive.
Niacinamide addresses virtually every skin concern.
Niacinamide is a multi-faceted agent; it can treat so many concerns. "A true multitasker, niacinamide not only neutralizes free radicals, but also strengthens the skin barrier, repairs DNA damage, improves texture and tone, and acts as an anti-inflammatory," says Dr. Levin. "The single ingredient can tackle oil regulation, barrier function, aging, hyperpigmentation, acne, and eczema—to name a few. [It] has been shown to regulate oil secretion and cellular turnover, extending its use not only to dry and sensitive skin but also to oily and acne-prone complexions."
She explains that niacinamide works by increasing cellular energy, which stimulates collagen production and increases ceramides and fatty acids in the skin, fortifying the barrier and helping it retain moisture on the whole. Dr. King agrees, adding that niacinamide can also help with a dry and flaking scalp. Because it has anti-inflammatory properties, it could be helpful for uncomfortable scalp conditions like dandruff; also says that it could help those with oily scalps, as it helps inhibit excess sebum production.
It's safe for all skin types.
As if all the benefits weren't enough, niacinamide also plays well with other ingredients and is safe enough for just about everyone to use. "This multi-functional ingredient is safe for all skin types—whether dry or oily—and all ages," notes Dr. Levin. It's also unlikely to cause irritation or inflammation, adds Dr. King, who says that you can easily work it into your established beauty routine sans any issues. Dr. Levin affirms that discomfort is unlikely; when it does occur, concentrations are typically too high (anything over five percent might be too much). As always, it's always best to work with a board-certified dermatologist if you're wondering if niacinamide is something you would like to try.
You will find this star ingredient in serums and moisturizers.
According to Dr. King, the positive effects of niacinamide happen with regular use—which is why your best course of action is finding a product that delivers it. She suggests looking for serums and moisturizers for maximum absorption. Adding this ingredient into your routine will be extremely beneficial, she continues, if you already use other acne-fighting agents. "Retinoids, salicylic acid, and benzoyl peroxide—all can be drying and irritating, so it can be helpful to combine these with niacinamide, which supports the skin barrier and improves moisture levels and tone, and texture," she says. "Acne can often leave post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so it's particularly helpful that niacinamide can help with discoloration." She recommends Pond's Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream ($7.99, cvs.com); it's a great option for moisturizing while also delivering anti-aging benefits. "It's formulated with niacinamide and retinol complex as well as glycerin and pro-ceramides to hydrate and support the skin barrier," Dr. King notes.
For serums, Dr. King likes Ghost Democracy's Floodgate Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($34, verishop.com); it's a "moisture-boosting" product with hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to boost hydration. Dr. Levin, on the other hand, sings the praises of Skinbetter Science's AlphaRet Clearing Serum ($125, skinbetter.com): "It's a uniquely formulated retinoid-based serum designed for those who wish to maintain a youthful-looking complexion and clarify the appearance of oilier, blemish-prone skin with a low percentage of salicylic acid and, of course, niacinamide."
Niacinamide is also a wonderful addition to sunscreen and hair products.
Look for niacinamide in sunscreens, which can transform your SPF product of choice into a skin nourishing formula and improve its protective properties. Dr. King notes that sunscreens with antioxidants offer even better protection against UVA and UVB rays and environmental stressors. Bookmark Mele's "Dew The Most" Sheer Moisturizer SPF 30 ($23.49, target.com), which contains vitamin E and other moisturizing ingredients, as well as niacinamide to improve tone and texture.
And if you have a dry and itchy scalp? Dr. King recommends Dove's Hair Therapy Dry Scalp Care Moisturizing Shampoo ($6.49, walmart.com), Conditioner ($6.94, walmart.com), and Leave-On Treatment ($6.94, walmart.com). "They are formulated with niacinamide and help to support and protect the skin's barrier and lock in moisture to reduce dryness of the scalp," she says.