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Niacinamide: the "brilliant all rounder" that your skin will thank you for

January 21st 2020 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 1 comment


This skin barrier-boosting ingredient comes with the dermatologist’s seal of approval. Here's why and how to incorporate it into your regime

So-called ‘miracle’ ingredients come and go, but a handful provide skincare benefits that ensure they stand the test of time. One such example is niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3).

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…)

Addressing a range of skin concerns in one fell swoop, we asked cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Dr Sam's Skincare, Dr Sam Bunting to provide further insight on this hard-working ingredient to help break down its abilities into easy to digest chunks. From how it works on a cellular level to how to incorporate it into your skincare regime, here’s your go-to guide.

How niacinamide works

Niacinamide is 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, but as with most things, it weakens with age. “Niacinamide boosts barrier function by increasing ceramide production,” explains Dr Bunting, to aid better water-retention and overall skin structure.

The key skin concerns niacinamide tackles

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 benefits also extending to uneven 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.

Who can use niacinamide

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 to use niacinamide

“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 recommendations section below...

How it fits in with other ingredients

Niacinamide's one of the most versatile ingredients out there. Plus, its role in strengthening the skin barrier also helps reduce risk of irritation caused by 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 decoded - the skin experts’ guide

The risks and side-effects of niacinamide

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.

The best niacinamide products

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.

Buy online.

2) Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46, £99


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.

Our favourites

1) Beauty Bay SkinHit Soothing Serum, £5


When we found out Beauty Bay was releasing skincare we were first in the queue. This purse-friendly serum is slightly blue in colour and is formulated with ten per cent niacinamide, as well as copper and zinc to help regulate overproduction and build-up of sebum, which can lead to pores appearing increased in size. It smells a little bit like old pennies (that'll be the copper) but you really can't go wrong with the price.

Buy it now

2) Q+A Niacinamide Daily Toner, £8


It takes a lot to sway us from Pixi's Glow Tonic, but this niacinamide toner from new brand on the block Q+A might have done it. The niacinamide acts as a magnet for dirt, while aloe vera moisturises and soothes skin, leaving it brighter and revitalised with pores appearing minimised.

Buy it now

3) Paula's Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster, £41


A supreme multitasker, this liquid treatment addresses a variety of concerns ranging from large pores to excess oil and uneven skin tone.

Buy online.

4) Garden of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum, £9


This bestseller from Victoria's Health's new budget skincare brand, Garden of Wisdom, is small in price, but mighty in its effects. It helps regulate oil production, calms inflammation and boosts ceramide and collagen production plus, its gel-like formulation melts into skin too.

Buy online.

5) Olay Total Effects 7 in One Anti-Ageing Moisturiser SPF30, £14.99


Hydrating, brightening and protective, this SPF moisturiser leaves skin smoother, suppler and softer.

Buy online.

6) Alpha H Vitamin B with Copper Tripeptide Serum, £39


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 help out dehydrated, dull and stressed skin types in particular.

Buy online.

7) 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.

8) Codage Peeling Lotion, £60


Formulated with a blend of exfoliating ingredients, this post-cleanse solution contains 7.2% lactic acid, 6% glycolic acid, 4.4% fruit acids and 8% PHA gluconolactone, to remove dead and damaged cells from the surface of the skin. This blend also helps to stimulate skin’s natural cell-shedding processes while clarifying and decongesting the pores for a more balanced complexion.

Buy it online

9) Is Clinical Poly-Vitamin Serum, £50


This serum is infused with a combination of essential vitamins, barrier supporting niacinamide and antioxidants, to regenerate skin. Safe for use post-procedure or during radiotherapy and chemotherapy, this serum promises to help boost collagen production while improving skin’s overall feel, restoring a healthier appearance over time. Suitable for dry, compromised and sensitive skin types.

Buy it online

For more skincare advice from Dr Bunting, follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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