Niacinamide Benefits: What Does Niacinamide Do for Skin?

Niacinamide Benefits: What Does Niacinamide Do for Skin?

Niacinamide Benefits: What Does Niacinamide Do for Skin?

Reviewed by:Debra Jaliman MD Board-Certified Dermatologist


In this article:
What is niacinamide?
What does niacinamide do for your skin?
How to use niacinamide
How long does niacinamide take to work?

Niacinamide has a plethora of benefits as a skin care ingredient including its ability to:

  • Minimise the appearance of enlarged pores and improve “orange peel” textured skin

  • Restore skin’s defences against moisture loss and dehydration

  • Visibly even out skin tone and discolorations from sun damage

Among a handful of other amazing skin care ingredients such as retinol and vitamin C, niacinamide is a standout because of its versatility for almost any skin care concern and skin type.

As many of you know about us, but for those who don’t, the conclusions we make about any ingredient are always based on what the published research has shown to be true—and the research about niacinamide unanimously demonstrates how special it is. Ongoing research keeps confirming it’s one of the most exciting skin care ingredients around.

What is niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that works with the natural substances in your skin to help visibly minimise enlarged pores, tighten lax or stretched out pores, improve uneven skin tone, soften fine lines and wrinkles, diminish dullness, and strengthen a weakened surface.

Niacinamide also reduces the impact of environmental damage because of its ability to improve skin’s barrier (its first line of defence), plus it also plays a role in helping skin to repair signs of past damage. Left unchecked, this type of daily assault makes skin appear older, dull, and less radiant.

What does niacinamide do for your skin?

Niacinamide is most famous for its ability to reduce the appearance of enlarged pores. Research hasn’t come to a full understanding about how this B vitamin works its pore-reducing magic, but it seems that niacinamide has a normalising ability on the pore lining, and that this influence plays a role in keeping oil and debris from getting backed up, which leads to clogs and rough, bumpy skin.

As the clog forms and worsens, the pores stretch to compensate, and what you’ll see is enlarged pores. Routine usage of niacinamide helps pores return to their natural size. Sun damage can cause pores to become stretched, too, leading to what some describe as "orange peel skin". Higher concentrations of niacinamide can help visibly tighten pores by shoring up skin’s supportive elements and often dramatically improving orange peel texture.

Other benefits of niacinamide are that it helps renew and restore the surface of skin against moisture loss and dehydration. When ceramides become depleted over time, skin is left vulnerable to all sorts of problems, from persistent patches of dry, flaky skin to increasingly becoming extra-sensitive.

If you struggle with dry skin, topical application of niacinamide has been shown to boost the hydrating ability of moisturisers so skin’s surface can better resist the moisture loss that leads to recurrent dry, tight, flaky skin. Niacinamide works brilliantly with common moisturiser ingredients like glycerin, non-fragrant plant oils, cholesterol, sodium PCA, and sodium hyaluronate.

How does niacinamide help discolorations and uneven skin tone? Both concerns stem from excess melanin (skin pigment) showing on skin’s surface. Niacinamide in concentrations of 5% and greater works via several pathways to keep new discolorations from appearing. At the same time, it also helps reduce the appearance of existing discolorations, so your skin tone looks more even. Research has shown niacinamide and tranexamic acid work particularly well together, and as mentioned above, it can be used with other discoloration-reducing ingredients such as all forms of vitamin C, licorice, retinol, and bakuchiol.

How to use niacinamide

Using niacinamide is as easy as finding great skin care products that contain it and applying it in order of:

  1. Cleanser

  2. Toner

  3. Exfoliant

  4. Layer the rest of your skin care serums, treatments, and moisturisers (including those with niacinamide) in order of thinnest to thickest texture

  5. During the day, finish with a broad-spectrum sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater

Niacinamide is compatible with other powerful ingredients like peptides, Hyaluronic acid, AHAs, BHA, and all types of antioxidants. This multi-ingredient approach to skin care is important because as great as niacinamide is for skin, it’s not the only ingredient skin needs to look and feel its best.

Think of it like your diet—as healthy as kale is, if kale was all you ate, you’d soon become malnourished because your body needs more than one healthy food to maintain itself. The same is true for skin, the body’s largest (and most exposed) organ.

How long does niacinamide take to work?

Generally speaking, you should start to see results after 2-4 weeks of twice daily usage (depending on the severity of your skin concerns and how concentrated your niacinamide product is). Ongoing use is required for continued improvement.

Results will continue to improve over time but do not expect your skin to be completely “poreless”—that isn’t possible for any skin care product (not to mention, your skin needs its pores for many vital functions). What you can expect is pores that look smaller, skin tone that looks more even, visibly reduced fine lines and wrinkles, and an overall healthier glow.

Recommended products

For best results, use niacinamide products that are meant to be left on skin (such as serums or moisturisers) instead of rinse-off products (like cleansers) where contact time is limited.

A toner with niacinamide can be especially beneficial when applied after cleansing to re hydrate and replenish skin.

A concentrated 10% Niacinamide Booster can be used on its own (much like a serum) or mixed into your favourite non-SPF moisturiser, based on personal preference.

Those with stubborn concerns around advanced signs of sun damage, orange peel texture, lax pores, and oil-related bumps should consider trying an advanced strength 20% niacinamide serum.

You can use niacinamide-containing products around your eyes, too. Some might find applying a moisturiser or eye cream with niacinamide helps soften the appearance of crow’s feet and dark circles, not to mention enables this delicate area to retain skin-smoothing moisture and resist loss of firmness.

For skin concerns beyond the face, a niacinamide body serum can be advantageous. Niacinamide’s benefits on the body include tackling uneven tone, discolorations (including dotted marks around the hair follicles), plus restoring and strengthening skin’s surface. Our 5% Niacinamide Body Serum targets uneven tone and signs of ageing on the body, making it a terrific addition to any post-shower body care routine.

Learn more about skin care ingredients.

References for this information:

Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, May 2019, pages 454–459
Experimental Dermatology, February 2019, Supplement 1, pages 15-22; and October 2018, e Publication
Dermatologic Therapy, September 2017, e Publication
Journal of Investigative Dermatology, May 2017, page S116
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, March 2017, pages 158-162; and January 2013, Pages 192-201
International Journal of Dermatology, June 2016, pages e321–e326
Facial Plastic Surgery Clinics of North America, May 2016, pages 145-152
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigation Dermatology, July 2015, pages 405-412
Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, June 2014, pages 311-315
International Journal of Pharmacy, January 2013, pages 192-201
Dermatoendrocrinology, July 2012, pages 308-319
Dermatologic Surgery, Volume 31, Part 2, 2005, Discussion 865
International Journal of Cosmetic Science, October 2004, pages 231-238
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March 2004, pages 88-93


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