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Niacinamide in Skin Care

Niacinamide, also called nicotinamide or Vitamin B3, is unique because it has many benefits that other skin care ingredients do not have.

This blog will explain why niacinamide is one of the best cosmeceutical ingredients found in serums and creams.

It is used to soothe skin and decrease skin pigment.

Is Vit B3 good for my skin?

Before you waste time and money on the wrong skin care products- take our 3-5 minute skin care routine quiz.


Once you take the quiz you can:

  • Get a step by step routine
  • Shop by your Baumann Skin Type
  • Find the  Vit B3 brands your your skin type

What is Niacinamide Good For?

My patients often ask me what Vit B3 is good for and how it can benefit their skin.

Put simply, it  improves many skin issues such as:

  • Dark spots
  • Inflammation
  • Skin Aging 

It is one of my top recommendations for relieving inflammation and irritation in sensitive skin. It calms redness from conditions like rosacea, and other types of sensitive skin.  It acts as a PAR-2 inhibitor which gives it these unique anti-inflammatory abilities and helps prevent hyperpigmentation


Vitamin B3 also tackles signs of aging like wrinkles and dark spots through unique cellular mechanisms unmatched by most other ingredients. And it does all this while remaining exceptionally gentle and well-tolerated even by reactive skin due to its natural biosynthetic pathway presence. Ultimately niacinamide’s versatility coupled with excellent safety secures its place in my top tier of both preventative and restorative ingredients.

Niacinamide benefits

Niacinamide is used in serums, sunscreens, and creams to treat dark spots, melasma, skin aging and rosacea.

It may also be found in acne treatments but it is not the best treatment for acne.



What does niacinamide do for your skin?

Niacinamide has 3 main functions in a skin care routine:

  1. Blocks PAR-2 receptors to help prevent dark spots
  2. Gives cells energy to help repair damage and make important components like collagen
  3. Anti-inflammatory and soothing

Antiaging

Vit B3 helps gives skin cells the energy they need to restore collagen. It also soothes inflammation that is known to cause skin aging. It is found in many antiwrinkle serums. Here are some of our favorite antiaging serums with Vit B3.

This antiaging cream has Vit B3 plus many ingredients to target cellular senescence, free radicals, inflammation and other causes of skin aging.  This is a very hydrating antiwrinkle cream for dry aging skin types because of its superior barrier repair abilities.  Perfect for sensitive skin.

This antiaging serum has NCEF which is essential hyaluronic acid, amino acids, and antioxidants in a liposome vehicle to help increase absorption. This serum has niacinamide and many hydrating and antiaging ingredients.  It also has some comedogenic ingredients so do not use if you are an acne-prone skin type. This is best for women with dry skin types because it has a feminine fragrance.

This serum contains snail mucin, the antioxidant superoxide dismutase, and  Vitamin C in addition to Vitamin B3. It even has soy proteins to help with estrogen deficient menopausal skin.  Best for women with mature skin.

This Neocutis cream has growth factors and peptides and oils to hydrate skin. This is noncomedogenic but may be too heavy for very oily types and too light for very dry types.  There is a richer version for very dry types. You can use this before or after a retinoid and after a VItamin C serum.

This Neocutis antiwrinkle cream is for very dry skin types because it has petrolatum in it which makes it feel greasier. It is a good choice for menopausal skin and because it has wild yam extract in addition to growth factors and peptides. It will help “slug in" any products that it is placed on top of, so use this over an antiaging serum at night to increase absorption.

Skin Lightening

Vit B3 is a PAR-2 blocker that helps whiten skin.

Niacinamide will help lighten skin but should be paired in the skin care routine with a retinoid and a tyrosinase inhibitor for best results.

Best products with niacinamide to lighten skin

These are our dermatologist recommended products with Vit B3 to use in a skin lightening routine.

Eye Creams to Lighten Dark Circles

Redness and Inflammation

Vit B3 is a good anti-inflammatory ingredient to treat rosacea or a red face.

In fact, it is one of the best ingredients for a redness on the face- unless you are allergic to it.

Top 3 niacinamide creams to treat facial redness

Sunscreen

Vit B3 gives cells energy to repair themselves after sun damage.

This is why niacinamide is a good ingredient in sunscreen.


Here are the best sunscreens that have niacinamide:

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Acne

Niacinamide decreases inflammation which helps treat the symptoms of acne but not the cause. It should be combined with other ingredients to effectively treat acne such as benzoyl peroxide and retinoids.


Which acne ingredients are best to combine with niacinamide to treat acne depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.

Acne scars

Niacinamide does not help true acne scars.

However, when my patients say they have acne scars, they often are referring to the red marks left after a pimple heals. These pink or red marks are not scars- they are skin inflammation. It can speed up how fast the red spots from acne heal and disappear. It can be used on acne scabs to help them heal without a scar.

Is it OK to use niacinamide every day?

Niacinamide is not irritating to the skin unless you have an allergy to it.

It can be used once or twice a day in your skin care routine.

What moisturizer goes well with niacinamide?

All moisturizers go well with niacinamide.

Choose a type of moisturizer that is best for your Baumann Skin Type.

Instead of mixing a niacinamide serum with a moisturizer, you can buy a moisturizer that already ahs niacinamide in it such as:

Zerafite Brightening Barrier Cream- best niacinamide cream for skin lightening in sensitive skin

Zerafite Soothing and Calming- best niacinamide cream for rosacea and sensitive skin


Which is better to use on your skin?

Trying to decide if Vit B3 is the best ingredient for you- or maybe vitamin c, retinoids, or HA serums are better. 


Take the quiz and we will tell you exactly what skin care products to use for your skin type.



Niacinamide or Vitamin C?

Vitamin C and Vit B3 are very different, and which to choose depends upon your Baumann Skin Type.

They both can be used to lighten dark spots, but Vitamin C is a tyrosinase inhibitor while niacinamide is a PAR-2 blocker.

  • Niacinamide can be used on sensitive skin but Vitamin C should not be.
  • Niacinamide sooths inflammation while Vitamin C can cause inflammation.
  • Niacinamide can be used on a rash or burn, Vitamin C cannot.

Both are antioxidants and can be used for skin aging but they work differently:

  • They both increase collagen production but through different mechanisms
  • Niacinamide increases cellular energy, Vitamin C does not
  • Niacinamide increases DNA repair, Vitamin C does not
  • Vitamin C is an exfoliant and niacinamide is not.

Niacinamide or hyaluronic acid?

These are very different types of skin care ingredients. Hyaluronic acid hydrates, plumps and makes other ingredients absorb better.

Niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, antiaging, increases cellular energy, and lightens skin.


Retinol or niacinamide?

Both ingredients are good for antiaging, but retinol is better.

These can be used together because they both have antiaging and skin lightening benefits.


Vit B3 can help decrease the side effects from retinol.


If you have to choose between the two- choose retinol for antiaging.

Sun and Niacinamide

You can go in the sun while wearing niacinamide. Niacinamide does not seem to be a photoallergen and does not make skin more sensitive to sun.


Side Effects and Negative Effect

When used topically, it has very few negative effects. However, it can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

The purity and grade of Vit B3 used in the skin care formulation effects the potential to cause a skin allergy. In other words- purer forms of  are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.


This is why you may get an allergy to some products with niacinamide in them and not from others. In fact, it can vary from batch to batch depending on what form was used when the products were made.

What can you not mix with niacinamide?

Although many people say you cannot mix niacinamide with Vitamin C, this is incorrect. Niacinamide and Vitamin C can be used together. Both are water soluble ingredients that are compatible together.

what can you mix niacinamide with

Compatibility skin care ingredients:

You can mix it with almost any skincare ingredients.


It can be used with:

correct complete and consistent skin care routine

Make sure you are using the best niacinamide products for your skin type.


Level up your skin care

What does niacinamide do?

It blocks the transfer of the pigment melanin into skin cells, it neutralizes free radicals, calms inflammation, and gives cells energy. These results in these benefits: soothing, skin lightening and antiaging.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is like a helpful tool in our cells that helps create and use energy. It's part of a process that keeps our body running smoothly, and it can also calm inflammation and lighten skin.

Does niacinamide lighten skin permanently?

No, the effects of niacinamide are temporary. It acts as a temporary PAR-2 blocker. It must be used consistently every day to have lightening effects.

Can niacinamide cause acne?

It is not comedogenic does not cause acne but some impure forms can cause an allergic reaction.

Is niacinamide an active ingredient?

Yes it is considered active because it has many biologic effects.

Is niacinamide drying?

This ingredient does not dry out your skin or injure your skin barrier, however it can be mixed with other ingredients that cause skin dryness.

When to use niacinamide?

It can be used in any type of product any time of day.

Is niacinamide safe?

Yes it is safe unless you have a skin allergy to it.

What does niacinamide do to the skin?

It lightens the skin color and decreases redness and helps preven twrinkles.

What ingredients go with niacinamide?

Yes, you can mix Vit B3 with any skin care ingredients. It does not react with anything. Years ago there was a myth that it cannot be used with Vitamin C but that is not true.

Best References and Scientific Publications on Niacinamide for Skin

  1. L. Baumann. Ch 44 Niacinamide in Cosmeceutical and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)
  2. Leyden JJ, Shergill B, Micali G, Downie J, Wallo W. Natural options for the management of hyperpigmentation. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2011 Oct;25(10):1140-5.
  3. Zhu W, Gao J. The use of botanical extracts as topical skin-lightening agents for the improvement of skin pigmentation disorders. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2008 Apr;13(1):20-4.
  4. Greatens A, Hakozaki T, Koshoffer A, Epstein H, Schwemberger S, Babcock G, Bissett D, Takiwaki H, Arase S, Wickett RR, Boissy RE. Effective inhibition of melanosome transfer to keratinocytes by lectins and niacinamide is reversible. Exp Dermatol. 2005 Jul;14(7):498-508.
  5. Mohammed D, Crowther JM, Matts PJ, Hadgraft J, Lane ME. Influence of niacinamide containing formulations on the molecular and biophysical properties of the stratum corneum. Int J Pharm. 2013 Jan 30:441(1-2):192-201.
  6. Comaish JS, Felix RH, McGrath H. Topically applied niacinamide in isoniazid-induced pellagra. Arch Dermatol. 1976 Jan;112(1):70-2.
  7. Benavente CA, Schnell SA, Jacobson EL. Effects of niacin restriction on sirtuin and PARP responses to photodamage in human skin. PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e42276.
  8. Surjana D, Damian DL. Nicotinamide in dermatology and photoprotection. Skinmed. 2011 Nov-Dec;9(6):360-5.
  9. Namazi MR. Nicotinamide in dermatology: a capsule summary. Int J Dermatol. 2007 Dec;46(12):1229-31.
  10. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31.
  11. Konda S, Geria AN, Halder RM. New horizons in treating disorders of hyperpigmentation in skin color. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2012 Jun;31(2):133-9.
  12. Zhu W, Gao J. The use of botanical extracts as topical skin-lightening agents for the improvement of skin pigmentation disorders. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2008 Apr;13(1):20-4.
  13. Gillbro JM, Olsson MJ. The melanogenesis and mechanisms of skin-lightening agents—existing and new approaches. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2011 Jun;33(3):210-21.
  14. Surjana D, Damian DL. Nicotinamide in dermatology and photoprotection. Skinmed. 2011 Nov-Dec;9(6):360-5.
  15. Greatens A, Hakozaki T, Koshoffer A, Epstein H, Schwemberger S, Babcock G, Bissett D, Takiwaki H, Arase S, Wickett RR, Boissy RE. Effective inhibition of melanosome transfer to keratinocytes by lectins and niacinamide is reversible. Exp Dermatol. 2005 Jul;14(7):498-508.
  16. Sharlow ER, Paine CS, Babiarz L, Eisinger M, Shapiro S, Seiberg M. The protease-activated receptor-2 upregulates keratinocyte phagocytosis. J Cell Sci. 2000 Sep;113(Pt 17):3093-101.
  17. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31.
  18. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31.
  19. Elliott RB, Pilcher CC, Fergusson DM, Stewart AW. A population based strategy to prevent insulin-dependent diabetes using nicotinamide. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 1996 Sep-Oct;9(5):501-9.
  20. Gensler HL, Williams T, Huang AC, Jacobson EL. Oral niacin prevents photocarcinogenesis and photoimmunosuppression in mice. Nutr Cancer. 1999;34(1):36-41.
  21. Damian DL. Photoprotective effects of nicotinamide. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):578-85.
  22. Yiasemides E, Sivapirabu G, Halliday GM, Park J, Damian DL. Oral nicotinamide protects against ultraviolet radiation-induced immunosuppression in humans. Carcinogenesis. 2009 Jan;30(1):101-5.
  23. Surjana D, Halliday GM, Martin AJ, Moloney FJ, Damian DL. Oral nicotinamide reduces actinic keratoses in phase II double-blinded randomized controlled trials. J Invest Dermatol. 2012 May;132(5):1497-500.[1]
  24. Callender VD, St Surin-Lord S, Davis EC, Maclin M. Postinflammatory hyperpigmentation: etiologic and therapeutic considerations. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2011 Apr 1;12(2):87-99.
  25. Mohammed D, Crowther JM, Matts PJ, Hadgraft J, Lane ME. Influence of niacinamide containing formulations on the molecular and biophysical properties of the stratum corneum. Int J Pharm. 2013 Jan 30:441(1-2):192-201.
  26. Sivapirabu G, Yiasemides E, Halliday GM, Park J, Damian DL. Topical nicotinamide modulates cellular energy metabolism and provides broad-spectrum protection against ultraviolet radiation-induced immunosuppression in humans. Br J Dermatol. 2009 Dec;161(6):1357-64.
  27. Otte N, Borelli C, Korting HC. Nicotinamide – biologic actions of an emerging cosmetic ingredient. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2005 Oct;27(5):255-61.
  28. Mohammed D, Crowther JM, Matts PJ, Hadgraft J, Lane ME. Influence of niacinamide containing formulations on the molecular and biophysical properties of the stratum corneum. Int J Pharm. 2013 Jan 30:441(1-2):192-201.
  29. Hakozaki T, Takiwaki H, Miyamoto K, Sato Y, Arase S. Ultrasound enhanced skin-lightening effect of vitamin C and niacinamide. Skin Res Technol. 2006 May;12(2):105-13.
  30. Bissett DL, Robinson LR, Raleigh PS, Miyamoto K, Hakozaki T, Li J, Kelm GR. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N-undecyl-10-enoyl-L-phenylalanine and its combination with niacinamide. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2009 Dec;8(4):260-6.
  31. Jerajani HR, Mizoguchi H, Li J, Whittenbarger DJ, Marmor MJ. The effects of a daily facial lotion containing vitamins B3 and E and provitamin B5 on the facial skin of Indian women: a randomized, double-blind trial. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2010 Jan-Feb;76(1):20-6.
  32. Kimball AB, Kaczvinsky JR, Li J, Robinson LR, Matts PJ, Berge CA, Miyamoto K, Bissett DL. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Feb 1;162(2):435-41.
  33. Fu JJ, Hillebrand GG, Raleigh P, Li J, Marmor MJ, Bertucci V, Grimes PE, Mandy SH, Perez MI, Weinkle SH, Kaczvinsky JR. A randomized, controlled comparative study of the wrinkle reduction benefits of a cosmetic niacinamide/peptide/retinyl propionate product regimen vs. a prescription 0.02% tretinoin product regimen. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Mar;162(3):647-54.
  34. Bissett DL, Miyamoto K, Sun P, Li J, Berge CA. Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Oct;26(5):231-8.
  35. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31.
  36. Bissett DL, Miyamoto K, Sun P, Li J, Berge CA. Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Oct;26(5):231-8.
  37. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):860-5; discussion 865.
  38. Greatens A, Hakozaki T, Koshoffer A, Epstein H, Schwemberger S, Babcock G, Bissett D, Takiwaki H, Arase S, Wickett RR, Boissy RE. Effective inhibition of melanosome transfer to keratinocytes by lectins and niacinamide is reversible. Exp Dermatol. 2005 Jul;14(7):498-508.

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