How to Use Niacinamide to Improve Your Skin

June 12, 2022 ۰ 5 min read

Ingredient Spotlight:

Niacinamide from PubChem became a prominent skin are ingredient in 2018, gained popularity in 2021, and is expected to continue to be prominent in skin care products in 2022 [1]. It seems like a small benign molecule from pictures, so why is it so popular? The reason I decided to highlight it here is that I recently saw a testimonial on Facebook with some pronounced beneficial effects. It was shown to reduce the redness due to active inflammation and acne. I have a history of acne on my face which has left my skin with a red undertone, and I was wondering if it could also reduce that redness, not from active acne but from historical acne and scarring.

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3. Use of it on the skin helps with:

  • Skin hydration by promoting the production of ceramides and elastin, both vital components of the skin barrier [2]. This helps strengthen the skin’s natural protective shield against moisture loss and outside irritants. Sensitive, dry damaged skin can be a result of a damaged, ineffective skin barrier that releases moisture.
  • Acne by evening out skin oil production by sebaceous glands [2]. This occurs in its actions on restoring and healing the skin barrier. 
  • Protection of the skin from everyday stress such as UV exposure and environmental pollution [2]. When applied to the skin it converts to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which has potent free-radical fighting antioxidant properties. What does this mean? It reduces or prevents DNA damage within cells and damage that can occur to the molecules within the skin. It can also provide energy to the cells to enhance repair [4].
  • Promoting skin elasticity (which reduces sagging and wrinkles) by protecting the skin molecules (e.g. collagen, hyaluronan, keratin) [2].
  • Hyperpigmentation (excess coloration of patches or spots of skin) by reducing photodamage to the sun which can cause overproduction of melanin [6].
  • Redness and blotchiness by reducing inflammation [2].
  • Treatment of rosacea and acne [3-6]. It has been shown to reduce the number of pimples [7] and reduce oil secretion [8].Antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-acne serum

I have seen several great reviews for niacinamide serums, for hydration, reducing fine lines, improving dark circles under the eyes, and evening out skin tone. You can search for products with niacinamide using the scIQ app. I did and I’m going to try The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum and will let you know how it goes!


  1. Silva, S.; Ferreira, M.; Oliveira, A.S.; Magalhães, C.; Sousa, M.E.; Pinto, M.; Sousa Lobo, J.M.; Almeida, I.F. Evolution of the Use of Antioxidants in Anti-Ageing Cosmetics. Int. J. Cosmet. Sci. 2019, 41, 378–386.
  2. Kumar, K. “What Does Niacinamide Do for Skin?” 
  3. Forbat, E.; Al-Niaimi, F.; Ali, F.R. Use of Nicotinamide in Dermatology. Clin. Exp. Immunol. 2017, 42, 137–144. 
  4. Chen, A.C.; Damian, D.L. Nicotinamide and the Skin. Australas. J. Dermatol. 2014, 55, 169–175. 
  5. Rolfe, H.M. A Review of Nicotinamide: Treatment of Skin Diseases and Potential Side Effects. J. Cosmet. Dermatol. 2014, 13, 324–328. 
  6. Snaidr, V.A.; Damian, D.L.; Halliday, G.M. Nicotinamide for Photoprotection and Skin Cancer Chemoprevention: A Review of Efficacy and Safety. Exp. Dermatol. 2019, 28, 15–22.
  7. Nagy I, Pivarcsi A, Koreck Aet al. Distinct strains of Propionibacterium acnes induce selective human beta-defensin-2 and interleukin-8 expression in human keratinocytes through toll-like receptors. J. Invest. Dermatol. 2005;124: 931–8.
  8. Draelos ZD, Matsubara A, Smiles K. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. J. Cosmet. Laser Ther. 2006;8: 96–101.25.



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