Holy-Grail Ingredient: Niacinamide

Holy-Grail Ingredient: Niacinamide



A brown bottle on a striped blanket

Niacinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, is an excellent, well-researched skincare ingredient.

It provides many benefits and is, therefore, a great choice if you have multiple skin concerns and don't know where to start.

Let's see what Niacinamide can do for your skin...

Repairs skin barrier

Niacinamide has a positive effect on the synthesis of ceramides.

Ceramides are key components of our skin barrier.

The skin barrier is a natural, protective barrier in the uppermost skin layers, consisting of dead skin cells and skin lipids (a.o. ceramides). It protects the skin from the penetration of harmful substances and keeps it moist and hydrated.

The skin barrier can be weakened by factors such as weather or wrong skincare.

A study shows that a formulation containing 2% niacinamide significantly increased the ceramide content of the skin.

This is especially beneficial for sensitive, redness-prone, dry, aging and wrinkled skin. These skin concerns are usually characterized by a weakened skin barrier.

Beneficial for:

  • ❯ Sensitive, redness-prone skin
  • ❯ Dry skin and dehydration
  • ❯ Fines lines, wrinkles (aging skin)

Lightens hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is a harmless skin condition where patches of the skin become darker in color than the rest of the skin.

Common factors causing hyperpigmentation are hormonal changes, excessive UV exposure, or inflammation.

These factors cause melanocytes, i.e., cells located in deeper skin layers, to produce more pigments - namely melanin. The pigment melanin is then transferred to upper skin layers. The result is hyperpigmentation, aka dark patches.

In a nutshell, there are two ways to treat hyperpigmentation:

  • ❯ Stop the overproduction of the pigment melanin in deeper skin layers.
  • ❯ Prevent the transfer of melanin upwards to the upmost skin layers.

Studies show that Niacinamide lightens skin by preventing the transfer of melanin to the upmost skin layers.

The lightening effect has been proven - for example - in a study by Procter & Gamble. 50 subjects applied a formulation with 5% Niacinamide on their face. A regular application over 12 weeks showed improvements in hyperpigmentation.

Beneficial for:

  • ❯ Hyperpigmentation

Balances sebum-production

Niacinamide can have a balancing effect on sebum production. This is especially beneficial for oily and combination skin types.

Since excess sebum can result in clogged pores, acne, and pimples, Niacinamide is a great ingredient to prevent these skin concerns as well.

A study with 50 subjects showed that a moisturizer containing only 2% Niacinamide lowered the sebum production after 4 weeks.

Beneficial for:

  • ❯ Oily skin
  • ❯ Combination skin
  • ❯ Acne-prone skin

Acts anti-inflammatory

Niacinamide shows anti-inflammatory properties.

Here are some nerdy facts related to this property 🤓:

Niacinamide inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (Nf-kB), reduces the production of a variety of inflammatory cytokines, like IL-1 and IL-12, prevents degranulation of mast cells, and inhibits leukocyte migration into the skin :)

Anti-inflammatory effects are beneficial for redness-prone skin since redness is a sign of inflammation. It also helps with inflamed acne conditions, such as pimples.

Beneficial for:

  • ❯ Redness-prone skin
  • ❯ Acne-prone skin (pimples)

Other benefits

Niacinamide is a precursor to the cofactors Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NADH) and Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate (NADPH), which are essential for a variety of biochemical reactions. The reduced forms, NADH and NADPH, are potent intracellular antioxidants.

Since Niacinamide raises the so-called reduced NADPH levels, it also acts as an antioxidant.

If you are not familiar with antioxidants, here is a short explanation:

Free radicals are skin-aging triggers. Common factors leading to the formation of free radicals are UV exposure, pollution, or smoking. Free radicals are highly reactive substances that cause chain reactions with other substances, like proteins and lipids, leading to damage. The damage results in, among others, skin aging. There is a possibility to combat free radicals: with antioxidants. Antioxidants make free radicals stable. Chain reactions and damage are stopped.

Last but not least, a study with 50 subjects showed an improvement in skin elasticity and wrinkles after using a formulation with 5% Niacinamide for 12 weeks.

Beneficial for:

  • ❯ Anti-aging
  • ❯ Fine lines, wrinkles.

To sum up...

Niacinamide is an excellen allrounder. Depending on the product's formulation, it can give you a bunch of benefits at once.

The ingredient can help with:

  • ❯ Oily skin
  • ❯ Combination skin
  • ❯ Acne-prone skin (pimples)
  • ❯ Hyperpigmentation
  • ❯ Dry skin and dehydration
  • ❯ Anti-aging
  • ❯ Fine lines, wrinkles
  • ❯ Redness-prone skin.

Puuh... that's a lot!

And the best thing is: there are no major side effects.

What are you waiting for? Check out some great products with Niacinamide here 🙂.


Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, February 2010, 3(2), Pages 22–41. How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?

British Journal of Dermatology, September 2000, 143(3), Pages 524-31. Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier.

Dermatologic Therapy, September 2017, 30(5), in internet: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28220628 (13.09.2019). The role of nicotinamide in acne treatment.

Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, June 2006, 8(2), Pages 96-101. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production.

Dermatological Surgery, July 2005, Volume 31, Issue 1S, Pages 860-866. Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance.

J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2006 Jun;8(2):96-101. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production.