While we love new ingredients as much as the next skin-care nerd, we also think it's important that people are tuned into the awesome powers of tried-and-true complexion fixes. Many "old-school" ingredients, like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, are seeing a renaissance of sorts as people become more educated on both why their skin needs them and what makes them such effective options. There's a reason they're skin-care classics, after all. One such unsung hero is niacinamide.
Also known as vitamin B3, this multi-tasking ingredient has been trusted by dermatologists and aestheticians for decades. It's such a common ingredient that you likely are using or have used a product that contains niacinamide. It's tolerated well by most skin types and can be beneficial in fighting everything from acne to fine lines. It not only does all of the things, it does them really, really well and won't clog your pores or irritate your skin in the process. We're honestly shocked that more people aren't writing poetry about everything this amazing ingredient can do.
Since we consider it our solemn duty to right the skin-care injustices of the world, today we're going to help give this overachieving ingredient the recognition it so rightly deserves. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about niacinamide, including what it can do your specific skin issues and our favorite products featuring this hero vitamin.
While acids and retinol tend to get all of the attention for those prone to acne, niacinamide should 1000 percent be on the shopping list for anyone who struggles with blemishes, enlarged pores, or excess oil. Vitamin B3 has been studied extensively for those skin issues and shown to reduce the inflammation associated with acne breakouts, limit the production of sebum, and diminish the appearance of large pores. It does all of this without causing the redness or irritation that is commonly associated with acne-fighting ingredients.
The interesting thing about niacinamide and dark spots is that while it does a good job on its own at minimizing them, where it really stands out is that it turbo boosts the brightening powers of other hyperpigmentation treatments. According to some studies, combining vitamin B3 with brighteners like kojic acid or arbutin will give you 10 times better results than if you just used those ingredients on their own.
The skin's barrier is one of the most important parts of its biology — when it's damaged, your skin is unable to properly hydrate itself and is more susceptible to the effects of damaging free radicals. Niacinamide is a powerful barrier booster that increases skin's natural ceramide production to renew and restore the surface of the skin and build that barrier back up to full strength. With regular application, it can help your skin retain moisture better, helping to keep it properly hydrated and less likely to get dry and flaky.
That ability to help the skin produce ceramides can also be linked to niacinamide's benefits at diminishing fine lines and wrinkles. It's also a so-called "cell communicator," meaning it can "talk" to your other cells to encourage them to amp up their production of collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep skin looking healthy and young. It also has the added bonus of a smoothing effect and softening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. While not as powerful of a wrinkle eraser as retinol, niacinamide has the benefit of being gentle and non-irritating, making it a safe option for those who are prone to redness, dryness, or sensitivity.
Products To Try
Cosmetic chemists absolutely love niacinamide because it pairs well with a host of different active ingredients and can be worked into a wide variety of formulations and textures. Meaning you really can't go wrong with it and the only question is finding the right combination for what your skin needs. If only you had a dedicated beauty expert who could guide you to the products that would be most helpful for your skin type. Oh, wait a minute...
For acne, oil, and large pores we love Goop's G.Tox Malachite + AHA Pore-Refining Tonic. The exfoliating toner is made with a trio of resurfacing acids to get rid of dead skin and de-congest clogged pores, plus hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and mineral-rich deep sea water to help replenish and soften skin as it clarifies and refines. If you're dealing with cystic, under-the-skin pimples, Zitsticka's Killa pimple patches have hyaluronic-acid microdarts infused with niacinamide (along with salicylic acid and oligopeptide-76) to calm redness and inflammation as it clears out pore debris from the inside to rapidly shrink a pimple.
If you want a true multi-tasking marvel, you can't beat the powerhouse that is Venn's Vitamin B Activated All-in-One Concentrate. It's loaded with six different types of B vitamins (including, of course, vitamin B3), plus 11 amino acids to hydrate skin for up to 24 hours, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, instantly increase skin's radiance, minimize hyperpigmentation, and smooth and soften skin (whew).
Dry, sensitized skin will appreciate the soothing powers of Lernberger Stafsing's S.O.S. Barrier Repair Cream, which uses niacinamide alongside shea butter, bisabolol (a derivative of chamomile), allantoin, and hyaluronic acid to soothe and calm irritated skin. It not only helps skin repair its own damaged barrier, but also creates an invisible, weightless barrier to protect it against environmental stressors as it heals.
Last but not least, there's everyone's favorite SPF, EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46. In addition to accomplishing the magical feat of protecting your skin from the sun without feeling greasy or causing breakouts, it also helps to make your skin look better thanks to the addition of niacinamide. Regular application will guard against UV damage as well as minimize the severity and frequency of breakouts as well as help minimize hyperpigmentation.
We're always on the hunt for the next big thing in beauty, but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate the classics. Make sure to add niacinamide to your routine and see what this skin-care star can do for you.