When you’re shopping for skincare, you want to make sure the products you’re buying feature ingredients that really do the work for your skin. If they don’t, then what’s the point of spending your money (or sometimes splurging) on them? That’s why it’s so important to arm yourself with knowledge about common skincare ingredients so you know which ones will work best for your specific skin type and concerns. Of course, a dermatologist might be your best source for figuring all of this out, but you can do your own research too.
One powerhouse ingredient that you might have heard of before is niacinamide. In my opinion, the word “niacinamide” is starting to gain traction much like hyaluronic acid has been a popular skincare buzzword for years. But what is the ingredient, and why is it so beneficial? Well, I asked a derm to explain.
“Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, a water-soluble vitamin that helps support repair mechanisms in the body’s cells. It can help to reduce damage from free radicals, reduce inflammation, and support the skin barrier,” explains Michele Farber, MD, FAAD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Farber adds that niacinamide can be used topically as an anti-inflammatory for conditions like acne and rosacea. It can help support hydration, improve the skin barrier, brighten skin, and reduce dark pigment. It also can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
“Niacinamide can also be used orally for reducing the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer in the appropriate setting and also for acne when other oral medications are contraindicated or not tolerated,” Farber says.
For the most part, pretty much all skin types can use niacinamide because it’s generally well tolerated. Farber says it’s best for people dealing with inflammatory skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. But it’s important to note that it may be irritating on sensitive skin in higher concentrations.
“While it has many benefits, niacinamide is best as an adjunct treatment,” Farber explains. “Most people with acne, rosacea, or pigment changes will need other ingredients and possibly prescriptions to complete a skin regimen.”
One way to add niacinamide into your skincare routine is through a serum, which Farber says would be a great addition if you’re dealing with acne, rosacea, redness, and generally sensitive skin. “It’s ideal in combination with other ingredients depending on skincare goals, but it’s also a nice option for people who have trouble tolerating other products,” she adds.
When choosing a serum, Farber recommends looking for one with a percentage between 2% to 10%. She also suggests looking for it in combination formulas. When it’s paired with kojic and tranexamic acids, it targets pigmentation; with vitamin C, it’s for brightening; with hyaluronic acid for hydration; and with retinol for acne.