Why everyone is talking about niacinamide

Niacinamide (aka Vitamin B3) is fast becoming the must-have ingredient in skin care. And experts reckon it’s worth the hype.

Savvy skincare users are increasingly aware that active ingredients matter, and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) has emerged among the heavy hitters.

A recent beauty report noted that in 2020 the number of Google searches for “niacinamide” spiked by 181 per cent, mirroring a growth in interest around the ingredient.

A global market analysis also confirmed that niacinamide skin care is on the rise, currently estimated at USD$671M and projected to reach USD$815.3M by 2026.

So, is niacinamide deserving of all this skin care hype?

What exactly is niacinamide?

Medical and cosmetic dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology says niacinamide offers a host of scientifically backed benefits worth getting excited about.

“No matter what your complexion concerns are, you will almost certainly benefit from using Vitamin B3 topically on your skin,” says Dr Armour.

“Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is the biologically active form of niacin (Vitamin B3).”

Naturally found in foods like root vegetables, mushrooms, fruits, peanuts, and seeds, The Dermal Diary skin therapist Isabella Loneragan notes niacinamide is “a real superstar ingredient that has been shown in studies to have a range of skin improving benefits”.

Which skin issues is niacinamide used for?

Dr Armour says niacinamide’s benefits are many and varied, including: “Maintaining normal barrier function, reducing sensitivity and soothing inflammation, protecting against sun damage, combating pigmentation, stimulating collagen production and improving overall skin texture.”

Beyond being an anti-ageing powerhouse, Isabella says niacinamide can also improve skin concerns such as “impaired skin barrier, acne and pigmentation – even rosacea and eczema”.

As an anti-ageing ingredient, Isabella notes that niacinamide’s ability to “boost collagen production improves skin structure and results in fewer wrinkles”.

Sun damage and pigmentation are also contributors to an overall aged skin appearance, and Dr Armour explains that niacinamide is revered for its ability to improve UV-damaged skin.

In the case of acne, Dr Armour says that “niacinamide helps decrease sebum production and inflammation”, which also has a knock-on effect of “improved pore size”.

For rosacea and eczema, Dr Armour explains that niacinamide assists by “stimulating the epidermal skin barrier lipid production and proteins as well as diminishing overall inflammation and redness”.

Niacinamide’s efficacy and usability

There’s a lot to like about niacinamide, according to Dr Armour.

“It is relatively easy, and cost-effective for formulators to work with, and has benefits for every skin concern imaginable. That’s why you can expect to see niacinamide included in sunscreens, moisturisers, cleansers, and to treat a range of skin concerns,” says Dr Armour.

But if there’s a catch, it’s that it’s not an overnight fix. Patience and persistence are required in order to reap the benefits.

“Anti-aging studies usually use 4-5 per cent niacinamide daily for eight to 12 weeks,” notes Isabella.

Niacinamide is also not the sole solution in some inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema.

“In severe cases, skincare containing niacinamide will need to be combined with prescription treatments,” says Dr Armour.

How to incorporate niacinamide into our skincare routine

The skincare market is already awash with products containing niacinamide – but Isabella suggests being choosy about the quantity included for gain maximum benefit.

“Aim to select products with a minimum of 4 per cent and ideally no more than 10 per cent,” suggests Isabella.

Dr Armour adds that niacinamide skin care should slot in seamlessly alongside most existing skin care routines – and that “myths about not combining niacinamide with Vitamin C have been debunked”.

“Gradual application is always a good way to start,” advises Isabella.

“Start with every second or third day to ensure the skin can tolerate it, then steadily built up your frequency.”

Written by Sharon Hunt.