5 reasons you need to add this superstar ingredient to your skincare routine
Want luminous, healthy and younger-looking skin? Look no further.
Research indicates that this ingredient:
- Is a more effective moisturizer than Vaseline which is considered the ‘gold standard’ in skin hydration (study conducted in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2005).
- Is a much better alternative for acne treatment than other products in the market (e.g., Clindamycin gel) since the former does not become resistant to acne bacteria (study conducted in International Journal of Dermatology in 1999)
- Reduces wrinkling and hyperpigmentation (study conducted in the Internal Journal of Cosmetic Science in 2004)
- Relieves rosacea when applied 2 times a day (study from a randomized controlled trial in 2005)
So is there anything this ingredient can’t do?
Improve Skin Hydration — √
Fade hyperpigmentation — √
Reduce wrinkles — √
Fight Acne — √
Calm Rosacea — √
Without further ado let me introduce you to this multi-tasking, superstar ingredient — it’s none other than NIACINAMIDE.
Actually it’s not a new ingredient, there’s been copious amounts of research over the years backing its efficacy — with most of the research done prior to 2012. So what’s getting everyone excited about it now? Well — stress from
the pandemic, wearing masks for extended periods has wreaked havoc on everyone’s skin. Which is why people are sitting up and taking notice of this very versatile ingredient.
I haven’t been immune to this either — homeschooling two kids under the age of 8 and doing household chores (cooking, laundry etc.) while working a full time job during the pandemic took a toll on my skin. In August 2020, I was going through a bout of breakouts on my face. What followed is the usual healing process, when your skin is recovering. Given that I have sensitive skin prone to pigmentation, it usually takes much longer for my skin to heal and the tone to improve. However, to my absolute delight my skin bounced back in less than a month (versus the average 3–4 months) which was astounding. Not only did my acne heal quicker, but my skin barely had any pigmentation. Needless to say, it was more resilient and healthy than ever before.
Since that day I’ve been using Niacinamide religiously every night and don’t intend to stop. Pictures are proof enough — my skin’s tone and texture have improved, it’s more hydrated, supple, and brighter.
You shouldn’t wait to add this amazing ingredient into your skin care routine — and read on to know how.
What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide also called Nicotinamide is a stable water soluble form of vitamin B-3. When applied topically it can penetrate the deepest layers of skin given its small molecular size — making the skin more luminous and healthy.
What are the benefits of Niacinamide?
1. Hydrates and strengthens the skin barrier — The outermost layer of the skin functions as a skin barrier — think of it like a brick wall held in place by lipids. The barrier’s main function is to help the skin retain moisture and protect it against foreign elements (like free radicals from pollution, stress, sun exposure etc.). Different kinds of lipids that make up the barrier are ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol — all required in the right amount to keep the skin watertight. As we age this barrier starts to weaken; or if you suffer from dry or sensitive skin, your skin’s barrier is already compromised. This is where Niacinamide works its magic, it helps the skin speed up the production of ceramides which keep the skin hydrated and fortify the barrier.
A study conducted in the British Journal of Dermatology in 2000 concluded that Niacinamide increases your natural skin barrier (ceramides and lipids) and decreases water loss on the outermost layer of the skin.
2. Reduces Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH), evens out and improves skin tone — Another magical benefit is that Niacinamide can help fade pigmentation on the skin. Research shows that it inhibits the transfer of melanin (which produces pigmentation in our hair, skin and eyes) between skin cells, thereby reducing brown spots and resulting in an even skin tone. Another lesser known benefit is that Niacinamide can improve dullness in the skin (a condition called sallowness) which makes the skin appear yellow in tone.
3. Softens fine lines and wrinkles, improves skin texture — Niacinamide makes the skin firmer and more youthful by stimulating the production of collagen (a protein required to keep the skin firm). The more collagen the skin has, the less it will wrinkle.
4. Regulates sebum production and tightens pores — For people who suffer from acne or have oily skin, Niacinamide is one ingredient you should not pass on. It helps stabilize oil (sebum) production in the sebaceous glands of the skin. Excess sebum can lead to clogged pores that turn into blackheads or acne — in a nutshell, this ingredient is helpful in preventing acne. Also, it prevents the pores from getting enlarged by keeping them clean of any debris, giving the skin a more youthful look.
5. Calms inflammation and redness — Niacinamide helps calm inflammation on the skin, minimizing redness, and blotchiness by fortifying the skin’s barrier. This makes it particularly useful for people that have very sensitive skin or conditions like rosacea or eczema.
How to use Niacinamide?
- Use twice daily (morning and night) to maximize its benefits. Why? Because Niacinamide is water soluble and as it gets absorbed deeper in the skin it loses its effectiveness over time.
- Apply as a serum after your face wash. Or you can skip the serum and use a moisturizer that contains Niacinamide.
- Let it rest on the skin for few minutes before layering on other ingredients so it has ample time to penetrate the skin.
- Niacinamide does not conflict with other skincare ingredients. In fact, it goes extremely well with them to deliver maximum benefits to the skin:
- Pair it with your retinol to unlock the full benefits of these ingredients. According to research, Niacinamide can reduce the irritation and redness caused by retinol. You can read my post on retinol to find out why it’s another must-have ingredient in your skincare routine.
- Pair it with other skin brightening ingredients such as kojic acid, licorice root to treat spots and hyperpigmentation.
- Contrary to popular belief, Niacinamide can be paired with Vitamin C. The research that claims otherwise is around 40 years old and since then there have been updated studies that contradict those claims. If you are still unsure about using them together, you can do one of the two things – 1. Use a vitamin C in the morning and Niacinamide at night (this is what I do); 2. Use a Vitamin C derivative such as sodium ascorbyl phosphate alongside Niacinamide.
When do you start to see results?
Again discipline is key, with regular use you can start to see results in as early as 4 weeks. My skin improved in less than a month and is only getting better with regular use.
Any side effects to watch out for?
Niacinamide does not cause any adverse side-effects, it’s one of the mildest ingredients. However, in concentration of 20% and higher it may cause irritation in some people. But again there is no reason to go beyond
10%. Niacinamide is proven to be equally effective in concentrations of 2–5% (generally found in moisturizers/creams) or 10% (available in serums).
Which Niacinamide product to use?
Niacinamide comes in different forms — face wash, serums, moisturizers, sunscreen. Typically, serums have the highest concentration of actives (10% and above) and are the most potent. You can use a 10% serum and that will give you the desired results. Saying this again, no need to go over 10% concentration.
- Niacinamide is available in combination with zinc as a booster. This is particularly helpful for people who have oily skin or are acne prone. I use the 10% Niacinamide and 1% Zinc combination and my skin loves it. Niacinamide balances the skin and Zinc treats the blemishes.
- Don’t buy a face wash with Niacinamide since that doesn’t give enough time for the active to absorb in the skin and work its magic.
- Moisturizers generally have Niacinamide in 2–5% concentration and in combination with ingredients such as retinol and acids (e.g., AHA — Alpha Hydroxy Acid, BHA — Beta Hydroxy Acid); ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The former combination helps to soothe the skin and the latter helps to boost skin hydration — one product multiple benefits so go for this. This is also helpful for people who don’t like too many products in their skin care routine. Watch out for future posts on acids, ceramides and hyaluronic acid.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (great for oily, acne prone skin)
The Bottom Line……
Niacinamide is a skincare superhero that takes care of all your skin issues so start using it now. It works for all skin types — so sensitive skin people, are you listening?