We’ve got your guide to skin care’s latest and greatest ingredient.
If you’ve been tapped into the skin care scene, there’s a solid chance you’ve heard rumblings about niacinamide, a powerhouse skin care ingredient that supports skin barrier function and improves texture and tone. Today we’re exploring the primary benefits of niacinamide, explaining what concentration is ideal, and showcasing some of our favorite niacinamide skin care products.
The Benefits of Niacinamide
A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide works overtime in a handful of ways. Let’s explore each.
Bolsters Skin Barrier Function
Skin care lovers are aware that hydrating and moisturizing ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid aid in repairing and strengthening the skin barrier, but did you know niacinamide has its own way of helping to fortify the top layer of skin?
“Niacinamide stabilizes skin barrier function through a reduction in trans epidermal water loss (TEWL). It also increases protein and ceramide production in the top [layer] of the skin and speeds up skin growth and repair,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Eric Rudnick, owner of Dazzling Dermatology in Boca Raton, Fla.
A healthy skin barrier makes for a more balanced, hydrated, beautiful-looking complexion and allows for fewer breaks in the skin.
Improves Skin Tone & Texture
You’ll often find niacinamide in skin care products that improve discoloration, including sun-induced spots and acne-related post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. That’s because niacinamide inhibits the production of pigment-producing enzymes.
Looking to tackle smoothness? Because of the way it bolsters the skin barrier, consistent use of niacinamide can also improve overall texture of the skin, as well, including smaller-looking pores and skin that feels softer and smoother.
Fights Premature Signs of Aging
This super ingredient also helps to promote a more youthful appearance, making it a more gentle alternative to anti-aging powerhouse retinol.
“Niacinamide is an attractive topical therapy to fight signs of aging,” says Dr. Rudnick. “It improves the surface structure, lightens photodamaged skin, smooths out wrinkles, and reduces the cancer-causing effects of UV irradiation.”
Helps with Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties that have proven helpful for acne-prone skin. The ingredient soothes inflamed breakouts and reduces redness.
And because it supports the skin barrier and prevents TEWL, it can also improve overall hydration which can reduce excess oil production that can be a cause of acne.
The Best Concentration of Niacinamide in Skin Care Products
We tend to have a “more is more” mindset when it comes to product formulations, but you actually don’t always want the highest concentration of niacinamide in skin care products.
Instead, it’s better to focus on finding the optimal blend of ingredients that addresses your specific needs! Using higher percentages of impactful ingredients can do damage to the skin or actually render the ingredient useless.
“Most topical niacinamide preparations that have been tested in placebo-controlled studies are 4%, however there are some reports of preparations as low as 2% topical niacinamide having clinical benefit,” notes Dr. Rudnick.
When considering the best niacinamide concentration for you, follow these guidelines:
- Less than 2%: This is too low. You may not see the benefits of using the product
- 2% to 3%: Controlling oil production and acne
- 3% to 6%: Improving tone, texture, and overall skin barrier, including hyperpigmentation and dull skin
- Higher than 7%: This is too high and may lead to irritation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
When it comes to percentages, you should also be mindful of how many niacinamide products you’re using during your routine. Using too many formulations containing niacinamide and layering them can cause temporary irritation, including redness, sensitivity, itching, and burning. Ideally, you should only use one niacinamide product at a time. If you’re not sure if a product contains niacinamide because it isn’t its hero ingredient, check the ingredient list- it may still be within the formulation and causing irritation!
Pairing Niacinamide with Other Skin Care Products
Niacinamide plays well with many of your favorite skin care ingredients, including antioxidants, sunscreens, peptides, ceramides, and retinol. In fact, pairing niacinamide with other skin care holy grails can often enhance its effectiveness.
“When used in combination with other topical antioxidants and/or serum peptides—including vitamins C, E, B5, and tranexamic acid—the healing effects of the niacinamide can be enhanced,” notes Dr. Rudnick. “Depending on whether you are looking to treat acne, hyperpigmented skin, wrinkles, or redness, looking for a specific product of niacinamide plus one of these additives may yield a better cosmetic outcome as the skin reparative effects can be enhanced.”
Niacinamide also works notoriously well with hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid. When combined with these humectants, the skin care superstar ingredient amps up its moisturizing and own humectant properties resulting in ultimate hydration and skin barrier strengthening.
Our Favorite Niacinamide Skin Care Products
To help kickstart your niacinamide journey, we’ve laid out a few of our favorite products. Each falls within the ideal concentration range to ensure you see the true benefits of this sweetheart ingredient.
The Giving Essence features an optimal 5% percent of niacinamide to improve skin tone and texture along with polyglutamic acid and a blend of 80% naturally fermented ingredients, including galactomyces ferment filtrate and saccharomyces ferment filtrate.
With just a few concentrated drops, the Giving Essence helps reduce the appearance of pores, blackheads, and excess oil, as well. This skin-nourishing blend of niacinamide and high-performing hydrating ingredients lends themselves to a hydrated, healthy complexion.
ISNTREE C-Niacin Toning Ampoule, $24.70
Target dull skin with this silky toning ampoule from ISNTREE. It’s formulated with a blend of 2% niacinamide and 70% sea buckthorn, which is rich in vitamin C.
The delicate skin around our eyes always benefits from a little extra TLC, which is exactly what this eye cream from Nacific delivers. In addition to niacinamide, it contains hyaluronic acid and adenosine to hydrate, brighten, plump, and smooth.
Kick dull skin to the curb with this lightweight moisturizer from Hanskin, which is formulated with both vitamin C and niacinamide. It also contains chlorella algae extract, another ingredient rich in antioxidants and minerals to help calm, balance, and protect skin.