March 28th 2019
Niacinamide: the "brilliant all rounder" that your skin will thank you for
June 29th 2018 / 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 it 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 it 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 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 to 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 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.”
The risks and side-effects
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 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.
2) Eltamd UV Clear SPF 46, £44.22
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.
1) Paula's Choice Resist 10% Niacinamide Booster, £40
A supreme multitasker, this liquid treatment addresses a variety of concerns ranging from large pores to excess oil and uneven skin tone.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
2) 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.
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.