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Niacinamide: What does it do for the skin and who should include it in their skincare routine?

A deep dive into one of the most talked-about actives and its many skin benefits

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Niacinamide: What does it do for the skin and who should include it in their skincare routine?
Written byAshiana FraserMSc Cosmetic scientist
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Vitamin B3, or niacinamide, is a multi-functional ingredient with a long list of skincare benefits and a firm favourite with Renude's team of experts. As one of the most talked-about actives of the moment, we look at what niacinamide can do for the skin, who should use it, and how. 

What does niacinamide do for the skin? 

Anti-pollution, exfoliating, pore minimising, anti-inflammatory, oil regulating and hydrating; all these are claims for market products containing niacinamide. While the ingredient does have the potential to impact the skin in several different ways, this depends on the product type, the other ingredients in the formulation and the frequency of use. Below we have rounded up the key ways by which niacinamide can function, helping you to make sense of the ingredient’s seemingly endless benefits.

Supports the skin barrier function

When applied to the skin in a leave-on formulation, niacinamide carries the ability to stimulate ceramide production. Ceramides are part of the essential lipid barrier, which protects the skin and helps retain moisture. In conditions where the skin’s lipid barrier is impaired (such as in very dry skin or after over-exfoliation), niacinamide can help rebuild the lipids on the skin’s surface. Strengthening this barrier helps make our skin more resistant to environmental stressors (such as UV and pollution) and their detrimental effects. 

Acts as an anti-inflammatory

Also noteworthy is this ingredient’s anti-inflammatory effect. Niacinamide has been found to reduce inflammation in conditions such as acne, rosacea and irritation, helping to soothe and calm the skin. This reduction in redness helps to even out the skin tone, while its brightening effects help make dull skin appear clearer and healthier. 

Reduces visible pore size

Many products containing niacinamide are centred on its ability to reduce pore appearance and improve skin texture. Our pores stretch when they become blocked with sebum (our skin's natural oil), makeup, sweat and pollutants. Even after we remove the debris via physical exfoliation or extractions, the pores remain open and more visible. A rough and uneven skin texture can result in makeup users using comedogenic (pore-clogging) primers to fill the pores and create an even surface ready for makeup application. With this the cycle propagates, and the pores become continually blocked and stretched. 

Research regarding niacinamide’s effect on open and blocked pores is ongoing and the actual mechanism of action is still unknown. It is proposed that niacinamide interacts with the pore lining in a way that makes it gradually return to its original size. Tighter pores are more resistant to blockages, and therefore the skin surface appears smoother and more even. 

Still not sold? What if we told you that niacinamide has been shown to increase cell turnover – which can help fade pigmentation and keep skin youthful, soft and luminous? It’s apparent that niacinamide can help just about every skin concern in some way or another. 

How do I use niacinamide?

Niacinamide is usually available in cosmetic moisturisers, serums and toners. Serums will generally have a higher concentration of the active, with the aim that the ingredients travel deeper into the skin where they can have maximum effect. Serums can be a highly beneficial tool for improving the condition of the skin, but as always make sure you read any usage instructions on the product packaging. Some serums can contain UV-sensitive ingredients (such as retinol) and are recommended for night-time use only. Niacinamide itself is not UV sensitive, but other ingredients in the formula may be, so always check. 

Can niacinamide be used with other active ingredients?

Niacinamide can be used in conjunction with most active ingredients, however, it is important to note that niacinamide *can* reduce the integrity of vitamin C. We recommend you alternate your niacinamide and vitamin C products (e.g. use vitamin C during the day and niacinamide at night) to reap the benefits of both! To ensure maximum absorption of niacinamide, apply it in serum form to clean skin with a moisturiser or lotion over the top to lock it in. 

How long does it take to see results?

Your niacinamide product will probably give you immediate results in terms of radiance and moisturisation, however, the long-term benefits will require more consistent usage. After 4-6 weeks of regular usage, you should start to see the benefits of this wonder ingredient.

Is niacinamide right for my skin?

What makes niacinamide brilliant is that it has advantages for so many different skin types and conditions. Those with breakouts or redness can benefit from the ingredient's anti-inflammatory effect. Those with dry or mature skin can benefit from the replenishment of the protective lipid layer. Those concerned with pore size and skin texture can benefit from the tightening and brightening effects. It really is one of the rare all-rounder ingredients for overall skin health. 

(See Renude-Approved Products Containing Niacinamide here. 

Ashiana FraserMSc Cosmetic scientist
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Ashiana FraserMSc Cosmetic scientist
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