Niacinamide is like a good character actor — it does many things really well. If your skincare goals include less irritation and inflammation, skin coloration benefits, less free and protection from radical damage from UV, niacinamide is for you.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How niacinamide benefits your skin.
- How niacinamide helps with acne.
- How niacinamide helps with rosacea.
- If niacinamide and retinol work together.
- Niacinamide’s side effects on skin.
What is niacinamide?
Dr. Steve, Geologie founding dermatologist, said: It's a super ingredient, a form of niacin, a.k.a. vitamin B3, which is important in maintaining your skin health. Niacinamide has a lot of different mechanisms of action. Mostly it's an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, but it has other effects like transport melanosomes, which affects skin pigmentation as well.
What are niacinamide’s benefits for skin?
Here’s a cheat sheet explaining what niacinamide does:
- By preventing dirt from clogging in pores, niacinamide helps pores shrink down to normal size which can smooth rough and bumpy skin.
- It prevents moisture loss and protects against environmental damage by increasing the production of lipids. This strengthens the surface barrier of the skin and helps smooth out wrinkles.
- It has a free radical scavenging effect. That means it neutralizes free radicals by acting as a natural "off" switch and disrupts a chain reaction that would otherwise have a negative effect on other molecules in the cell.
- It helps regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce to keep your skin from getting too oily.
- It’s an anti-inflammatory, helping with acne, rosacea and certain types of irritation.
So, in short, niacinamide:
- Reduces spots and hyperpigmentation
- Boosts cell regeneration
- Regulates oil production
- Tightens pores
- Improves skin defense to help knock out acne
Does niacinamide help with acne?
Dr. Steve: Yes, it mitigates it and reduces the body’s overreaction to barrier function abnormalities, like the swelling and redness associated with acne. A lot of the medicines that work as an anti-inflammatory are actually suppressing the immune system. It also works to regulate the amount of acne-causing oil being produced by the glands in your skin.
I will also say that the fact that there's a moisturizer in niacinamide reduces inflammation because you're restoring the barrier, you're mitigating the triggers and moisturization itself is anti-inflammatory. It actually helps the skin heal better. So it kind of works both ways, directly anti-inflammatory, but also improving the barrier.
Is niacinamide good for rosacea?
Dr. Steve: Yes. Like acne, rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition and one of the most common causes of redness on the face. Rosacea is hyper reactivity of the blood vessels of the face, which leads to dilation of the blood vessels and that flushing look. As an anti-inflammatory, niacinamide reduces skin inflammation.
Do niacinamide and retinol work together?
Dr. Steve: Retinol and niacinamide both improve skin coloration, they help with those dark splotches. So they have a dual effect in that way. Initially, retinol does cause some skin peeling and dryness and irritation, and niacinamide can soothe and calm that initial irritation related to retinol. So I can see those working together. But ultimately, they're both really well established ingredients that help skin health overall.
Does niacinamide have any side effects on the skin?
Dr. Steve: If you use too much or too often you can get redness. That’s because as a B vitamin, sometimes it does cause some flushing, but that's transient.
This is why reading skincare ingredients can be helpful. For example, consumers might think that ingredients with 1% concentration may seem low, but chemists specializing in cosmetics know that this concentration is already pretty significant.
There are lots of niacinamide products on the market that contain high concentrations, and there is no prescription topical niacinamide. That said, I think percentages are often abused. So it comes down to purity and potency, that also drives percentages. The FDA does regulate percentages in terms of how much you put in, in order to stay in over-the-counter products. We put 3% in our products — in the eye cream, morning cream, and night cream. At that formulation it’s well tolerated while also getting benefits.
What kind of results can I expect from niacinamide — and how soon?
After 4 weeks of using niacinamide, you can expect to see:
- Improved hyperpigmentation
- Increased skin hydration
- Reduced sebum levels
After 8 weeks, you’ll see:
- Reduction in pore size and and evenness of skin
- Reduction in the number of acne lesions and severity
How Geologie can help reduce redness
Go personalized! Take our skincare quiz for a personalized skincare routine just for you and your red, inflamed skin.
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