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Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinamide, is an ingredient with a cult following in skincare communities. It has lots of skincare benefits and no major side effects, which is pretty rare! Niacinamide is beneficial for pretty much all skin types, and there are loads of independent scientific studies to back up its effects. Here’s what it looks like:
What does niacinamide do?
Niacinamide is naturally found in your skin where it has a lot of jobs. Most importantly, it’s a precursor for a lot of enzyme co-factors, which means a lot of processes in your skin don’t work properly without it. So it’s no surprise that it does a whole bunch of good things when it’s included in skincare products!
Niacinamide helps your skin maintain its normal barrier function and reduce skin sensitivity. “Barrier” is a word that shows up in skincare discussions a lot these days, for good reason. Your skin’s main job is to act as a barrier to keep essential components in, and to keep outside things out. When your skin isn’t working properly, you can end up with all sorts of problems:
- Water leaves your skin too quickly, leaving you with dehydrated skin that feels tight and looks dull and “tired”
- Irritants can enter your skin, causing it to sting and go red. Even your normal skincare products can trigger sensitivity if your skin barrier isn’t working properly!
Niacinamide also increases the level of skin lipids called ceramides in the skin, so it’s great for moisturising dry skin which usually has decreased ceramide content. In case that wasn’t enough, niacinamide can also improve the appearance of your skin tone and texture.
Niacinamide is used in treatments for skin disorders like rosacea and acne as well, so it’s very safe for sensitive skin.
Here are some of the things that niacinamide-containing products helped in clinical trials:
- Helped to reduce darkening of the skin in the armpit
- Improved dry skin and stratum corneum barrier function
- Acne (especially in oily skin)
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmentation
- Overproduction of sebum
- Could help the immune system when included in sunscreens
Of course, whether a specific niacinamide-containing product will actually do these things depends a lot on its formulation, and is always difficult to figure out!
How do I use niacinamide?
Niacinamide is in lots of products, from serums to creams to sunscreens. There’s a rumour online that you can’t use niacinamide in the same routine as vitamin C, but that’s a myth.
I’ve been using niacinamide in serums at night, but I only recently discovered that SunSense sunscreens all contain 3% niacinamide! It’s a particularly good ingredient in sunscreen, since it’s photostable and doesn’t oxidise. Having a niacinamide-containing sunscreen has been really handy for my daytime skincare routine. Combining products with sunscreen without making the sunscreen less effective is always a bit tricky, so having extra skincare benefits built into the sunscreen makes it way less of a headache. It also speeds up my morning routine!
SunSense sunscreens are available exclusively in pharmacies. Check out the SunSense website for more details on the whole range.
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