It's one of the most popular ingredients in skincare: niacinamide. An expert explains why the active ingredient should be part of your daily beauty routine and how to use it correctly.
In the past year, niacinamide cream and niacinamide formulas have emerged as the it-skin care ingredient in beauty care. It's not for nothing that it is considered a cure for many of the most common skin problems - made worse by overeating and stress caused by the pandemic.
"Niacinamide is very popular with experts for good reason," said Blair Murphy-Rose, MD, FAAD, dermatologist and clinical assistant professor at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. According to the expert, the many benefits of niacin include reversing and preventing signs of aging, lightening and smoothing the skin, soothing inflammation and redness, reducing hyperpigmentation, as well as moisturizing and supporting the skin barrier. Here's a look at what niacinamide is, how it benefits your skin, and how to most effectively incorporate it into your care routine.
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3 that is water-soluble, which means it cannot be stored in the body. Hence, it is important to replenish it. "We can eat niacinamides orally, but they're also part of skincare products because they're known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, antioxidant, and skin-lightening properties," explains New York-based dermatologist Dendy Engelman. Because niacinamides nourish and soothe redness and inflammation at the same time, Engelman compares their benefits to those of retinol. "It has a similar effect by strengthening the skin's barrier, but it strengthens, to begin with without sensitivity or irritation," she explains, adding that it also acts as an antioxidant by limiting free radical damage. It also promotes hydration. "It prevents transepidermal water loss and even enhances the ability of other moisturizing ingredients to do the same," says Murphy-Rose.
To get the most benefit from skincare, apply niacinamide in the form of a cream, lotion, or serum - something that stays in contact with the skin for long periods of time as opposed to a facial cleanser that is quickly applied and washed off again explains Murphy rose. "Studies have shown that niacinamide penetrates the skin well and is easily absorbed, so you want your skin to have time to absorb the niacinamide," she explains. In general, niacinamide can be used at any time of the day - depending on the formulation, once or twice a day - and usually without any problems in combination with other products. Typically, serums are the most effective and have the highest concentrations of active ingredients. "Be sure to use low levels of niacinamide, as high levels can cause skin irritation," warns Murphy-Rose.
When treating dark spots and hyperpigmentation, Murphy-Rose recommends using niacinamide with other skin-lightening ingredients, such as kojic acid, which is naturally derived from mushrooms and is a by-product of the fermentation of rice, and tranexamic acid, a synthetic derivative of the amino acid lysine. One of her favorites is SkinCeuticals Discoloration Defense, a dark spot corrector that combats hyperpigmentation with an effective combination of niacinamide, kojic acid, and transexamic acid. Engelman recommends treating sunspots, hyperpigmentation, discoloration, and spots after the appearance of blemishes with the Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum from First Aid Beauty, which contains licorice root for extra brightening and the golden kiwi fruit for a dose of vitamin C. "Always wear sunscreen in the morning," advises Murphy-Rose. For sun protection, she recommends a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, such as B. the popular EltaMD UV-Clear sun cream.
Peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid help to "build up a barrier for the skin, so that the combination of niacinamides with these ingredients will only increase the effect," says Engelman and explains the individual active ingredients below:
While some niacinamide-containing products show their first results after two weeks, most results only become visible after four weeks or more. "You have to keep in mind that it doesn't take two days for stains to form, so you can't expect them to be removed in two days," Engelman explains. She also adds that if you see instant results it is likely due to a supplemental ingredient that is supposed to have an instant temporary effect, which is also desirable.