What Is Niacinamide and What Does It Do in Skincare?

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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 Is Niacinamide and What Does It Do in Skincare?

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:

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:

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.

What Is Niacinamide and What Does It Do in Skincare?

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.

This is a sponsored post; however, the opinions expressed are still my honest opinions. For more information, see Disclosure Policy.

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13 thoughts on “What Is Niacinamide and What Does It Do in Skincare?”

  1. I honestly love sunsense sensitive invisible matte (pale lavender tube), it’s my HG for a ‘physical’ all body sunscreen, it’s so much more cosmetically elegant than other zinc-only alternatives. and I think it might have helped reduced my keratosis pilaris also although not sure if there’s actually a mechanism for niacinamide helping with that??

    • It’s possible to be sensitive to anything, but niacinamide is generally only a problem if you have a specific sensitivity to it.

      • I have sensitive skin. 2 weeks ago started using Niacinamide 1-2x per day alternating with just tretanoin every other evening (have been using Tretinoin for several years and do not combine it with any other skin treatment. I use the Niacinamide on to pof Vit C 15%. Had white raised plaque on my cheeks and now they are almost gone!! Dermatologist said there was not treatment for them and they sometimes occur with aging… Glad I added the N to my routine. I apply it 15 minutes after the C and it stops my face from drying out overnight. Never too late. I am 71

  2. EltaMD has a really good sunscreen moisturizer that has been great for my problematic skin, oily combo with severe rosacea patches and sensitive and acne prone. It has niaciniamide in it too, and I didn’t know what it did! Now I love it even more!

  3. Hi Michelle. Actually I ever used The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide after applying Klairs vitamin C (before I read this post I also believed about the myth) but I got worse reaction like, it did sting, made my skin irritate. So do I have to wait for a while if I’m using skincare with LAA and also with niacinamide?

    • Have you tried both products individually on your skin? It could potentially be that your skin is particularly sensitive to nicotinic acid and the tiny amount produced managed to irritate your skin.

  4. Hi Michelle (plus anyone else that knows the answer to this question)!
    Do you think it is okay for me to make my own Niacinamide serum? I have found a few recipes online but wanted to ask the forum that I trust the most.

  5. Hi Michelle,

    Thanks for your post. You mention niacinamide can work fine with vitamin C. However I’m curious as to whether niacinamide will actually remain stable, absorb into skin and work at an acidic ph even without vit c eg ph4-4.5. It is found as an ingredient alongside other acids often. I have a product with Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, niacinamide and salyclic acid. The ph is 4.5( I tested it). Can it work in this formulation?

    All this ph talk has me paranoid about my skincare!

    Thanks again for your advice.

  6. Michelle,

    Thank you for your insight, wisdom and education about skincare, ingredients, lotions and potions. I love that your articles offer video and text. I am a reader and go ADHD with video. Your method allows for many more people to understand your message. A true expert can explain at every eductional level. That you are. Thank you and I look forward to more knowledge nuggets from you!


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