Niacinamide: a dermatologist’s guide

March 15th 2017 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 1 comment


A "brilliant all rounder" in the anti-ageing stakes, this skin barrier-boosting ingredient comes with the dermatologist’s seal of approval. Here’s how to incorporate it into your regime

When it comes to the world of anti-ageing, it can seem like an impossible task deciphering the fad from the fact. So-called ‘miracle’ ingredients come and go, but a handful provide benefits that ensure they stand the test of time. One such ingredient is niacinamide.

Highlighted in our ‘8 anti-ageing ingredients that actually work’ feature as a "brilliant all-rounder" in the skin-boosting stakes, it helps to reduce hyperpigmentation, ageing-associated inflammation and even helps to minimise irritation caused by other ingredients (more on that later though…)

Boasting a level of efficiency and efficacy to hit various anti-ageing hotspots in one fell swoop, we asked cosmetic dermatologist and GTG Expert Dr Sam Bunting to provide further insight on this effective skincare ingredient to help clear the confusion and break down its abilities into the basics. From how it works on a cellular level to how to incorporate it into your skincare regime, here’s your go-to guide.

How does niacinamide work?

On a cellular level, niacinamide proves particularly beneficial due to its ability to strengthen our skin barrier. What does that mean exactly? Think of your skin barrier as the first line of defence against environmental aggressors, UV pollution and irritants - a stronger one ultimately means greater resiliency, but as with most things, its fortitude weakens with age. “Niacinamide boosts barrier function by increasing ceramide production,” explains Dr Bunting, to aid better water-retention and overall skin structure.

MORE GLOSS: Sense and Sensitivity - 10 ways to build up your skin barrier

Which key skin concerns does it tackle?

As well as its barrier-boosting benefits, niacinamide also serves as an effective blemish-buster too. “It has anti-acne and anti-ageing benefits as it has an anti-inflammatory action,” explains Dr Bunting. “It therefore reduces the papules and pustules seen in acne. Plus, the good news is there’s no risk of antibiotic resistance to it.”

Its prowess isn’t just confined to acne either, with its properties also extending to unevenness of skin tone too. “It’s helpful in hyperpigmentation as it reduces the transfer of pigment molecules from melanocytes to keratinocytes,” explains Dr Bunting. Come pimples or pigmentation, it looks like niacinamide has their number.

When and who can use it?

Due to its pretty all-encompassing nature, it’s impressively universal in its appeal. “It’s suitable for all ages – from teens through to those with mature skin,” advises Dr Bunting.

Are there any skin types that should steer clear of it? According to Dr Bunting, no. “It’s suitable for even those with sensitive skin,” she says. “It’s a fantastic all-rounder that’s brilliantly well-tolerated so most can benefit from it. It’s also safe in pregnancy and during breastfeeding.”

How should you use it?

“It’s suitable for morning and evening use,” recommends Dr Bunting. “One of my favourite products incorporates it into a sunscreen and given that this is the first anti-ageing step any woman should incorporate, the addition of niacinamide is a great bonus.” Find out more about Dr Bunting’s product pick in the below recommendations section below...

Can you use niacinamide with other anti-ageing ingredients?

Yes - in fact, it’s one of the most versatile ingredients out there. Plus, its role in strengthening the skin barrier also helps reduce risk of irritation from other ingredients. “This has the added bonus of increasing tolerance to topical retinoids, so it’s worth starting this before you start a retinoid if you have sensitive skin,” recommends Dr Bunting. “It’s also, therefore, a good way to help improve compliance with retinoids in acne sufferers.”

MORE GLOSS: Retinol & retinoids, the skin experts’ guide

Are there any risks or side-effects people should be aware of?

Refreshingly, there are very few red flags to take heed of before incorporating niacinamide into your regime. “It’s very low-irritancy – I’ve not seen any patients have problems using it,” says Dr Bunting.

And finally...which products deliver?

Dr Bunting’s favourite products:

1) Olay Regenerist 3 Point Super Serum, £31.49


A brand which has long used niacinamide in a whole host of its skincare products, this hydrating pick also helps to address loss of elasticity on the face, neck and decolletage. (We’re also fans of the line’s 3 Point Moisturiser too).

Buy online.

2) Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46, £39.10


Merging suncare with anti-ageing in one product, this oil-free pick appeals to a wide range of different skin types to help calm and protect in equal measure.

Buy online.

And a few picks GTG also rates

1) Alpha H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide Serum, £58.50


Combining strengthening niacinamide with elasticity-boosting copper peptides, omega-3 and 6 rich chia seed and antioxidant ferulic acid, this moisture-building skin treatment has been specifically formulated to address dehydrated, dull and stressed skin types in particular.

Buy online.

2) Olay Eyes Firming Eye Cream, £24.99


The newest addition to the Olay line-up, this more targeted find helps to smooth fine lines and strengthen skin’s natural barrier function around the delicate eye area.

Buy online.

3) The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5


A budget beauty oil-free pick that's formulated for the congestion-prone, its high concentration of niacinamide at a high street price looks after both blemishes and bank balances alike.

Buy online.

For more skincare advice from Dr Bunting, check out her YouTube channel, ‘Dr Sam in the City,’ here and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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