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What is Niacinamide, A Skincare Underdog?

What is Niacinamide, A Skincare Underdog?

We all love a good underdog story. And when it comes to skincare, niacinamide is the underdog hero that solves multiple skincare problems from fine lines to hyperpigmentation. So let’s dig and answer the question, “What is niacinamide?”. 

Niacinamide in a Nutshell

Every minute of every day your body uses vitamins, in particular B vitamins. There are eight different kinds of B vitamins that the body needs to be healthy. Niacinamide is one of the two forms of vitamin B3. It is an “essential vitamin” meaning your body cannot make it. You can get it from food, supplements, or skincare products.

What Niacinamide Does for Your Body

All B vitamins, including niacinamide, aid in converting the food you eat into usable energy. It also helps your cells in other important chemical reactions. 

Studies have shown that it acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are powerful compounds that slow down the oxidation process in cells. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that takes place at the molecular level which damages a cell’s DNA structure. Antioxidants stop this damaging process. In skin the damaging process of oxidation leads to signs of aging like blotchy skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles, and an overall dull appearance. 

Some of the most potent antioxidants are vitamins C, E and A. And niacinamide or B3 has shown to have those same antioxidant behaviors. 

What It Does for Skin

Acts Like an Antioxidant

Since niacinamide has an antioxidant effect, when applied topically through skincare products, it protects your skin against free radicals and DNA damage, slowing and reversing the signs of aging.

Improves the Skin’s Moisture Barrier

On the skin, it improves the function of your skin’s moisture barrier. The moisture barrier is part of the skin’s outermost layer. It retains water in the skin. Plus it's your skin’s first line of defense against anything that would cause harm, including bacteria and environmental debris. 

Decreases Blotchiness and Hyperpigmentation

As we age or have increased levels of unprotected sun exposure, the skin gets damaged resulting in a blotchy uneven color to the skin, also called hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide aids in evening out the skin tone. 

Decreases Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Fine lines and wrinkles are the budding signs of aging, especially around the eye area. Studies have shown that niacinamide, used topically at 5%, reduced the appearance of those pesky fine lines and wrinkles. 

Niacinamide Helps Reduce and Protect Against Skin Cancer. 

Skin cancer statistics, like  4 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer by age 70, contain a serious connotation. And though there is a strong chance that you could be diagnosed with skin cancer there is something you can do about it. You guessed it. Use niacinamide. A study on the topical use of it and UV rays found that, “Longwave UVA, which is poorly filtered by most sunscreens, was highly immunosuppressive even at doses equivalent to 20 min of sun exposure. Nicotinamide (niacinamide), which protected against both UVB and UVA, and is a promising agent for skin cancer prevention.”

Sources of Niacinamide


Many foods contain niacinamide including eggs, beans, green veggies, fish, milk, and vitamin fortified cereals. To get the right amount in your diet, take the recommended does: men 14 years and older get a dose of 16 mg and women 14 years and older get 14 mg.


With numerous products on the market that contain niacinamide, here’s what you need to look for in your skincare product.

  • To begin using niacinamide begin with a product that has a lower percentage, such as  1-2%.
  • After you use a lower concentration of the it without any problems, you can work your way up to higher percentages. Some products contain up to 20%. The amount used in studies has ranged from 2% to  5%. 
  • It is found in various forms of skincare products from serums and solutions to creams. 
  • Know where in your skincare routine to apply the niacinamide product.
    • Any water based serums and solutions go under heavier creams or oils. 


Niacinamide on your skin is a win win. It just helps with everything! In one study, a 5% niacinamide solution was used 2x daily for 12 weeks. The results showed significant improvement in wrinkles, fine lines, skin elasticity, hyperpigmentation, skin redness, and yellowing. Next time you're looking for a new skin super hero check it out.