Skin care is like a vast ocean; the deeper you dive into it, the more treasures (ingredients) you discover. However, with umpteen formulations that target different skin concerns, you can easily get confused in understanding and choosing the best ones for yourself, especially if you’re a beginner who wants to start with just a few ingredients. But one such skincare ingredient that can be a miracle for all skin types (even sensitive) is niacinamide. And, this guide will help you know the hows and whys in a simplified way.
What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3 that has proved beneficial for our health, especially our skin. It’s an essential nutrient, the deficiency of which can affect the overall health adversely, too. However, we can reap multiple health benefits of vitamin B3 through foods like nuts, seeds, legumes and bananas. Additionally, the best way to enrich our skin with this vitamin is by incorporating niacinamide into our skin care routines.
Benefits of niacinamide for skin
With a lot of proven advantages, niacinamide has plenty of benefits for the skin. It maintains the overall health of our skin by fighting various skin conditions and has a hydrating and soothing effect. Its other benefits are as follows.
1. Niacinamide works amazingly for all kinds of pore issues. It unclogs pores, helping the skin absorb much-needed nutrients and moisture from skincare products. It also diminishes their size and prevents enlarged pores.
2. It also helps in controlling oil secretion and sebum production by regulating the work of our sebaceous glands. This leads to a clean, naturally radiant and healthy-looking skin.
3. Niacinamide is known to reduce inflammation and redness, which makes it a great skin care product for people suffering from acne, eczema and rosacea among other such skin conditions.
4. It also helps in reducing hyperpigmentation. Be it spots, blemishes or discolouration, niacinamide lightens them and evens out skin tone when used consistently over a few weeks.
5. Niacinamide also diminishes the appearance of signs of ageing like age spots, dullness, fine lines and wrinkles. It further promotes elasticity in the skin and boosts collagen production, which leads to a firmer and younger-looking skin texture.
6. Protecting our skin against oxidative stress, niacinamide also fights free radicals caused due to environmental stressors like pollution, toxins and sun damage.
Side effects of niacinamide
Topical use of niacinamide is generally considered safe without any side effects. However, you can always do a patch test by applying a pea-sized amount of the product on the inside of your forearm and wait for 24 hours to see your skin’s reaction.
If you have any pre-existing allergies, consult your dermatologist before buying any skincare product.
Mixing niacinamide with other ingredients
Niacinamide can be mixed easily with most active ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, zinc, peptides, ceramides, retinol and alpha arbutin. Kojic acid, licorice, rice water, avocado oil and golden kiwi fruit are some other natural ingredients that niacinamide works well with. When used alongside such components, it has proven to give optimal results.
For instance, when paired with hyaluronic acid, which is known for locking in moisture and improving skin texture, niacinamide can have a better effect on the skin. When mixed with vitamin C, it enhances oil control and its skin brightening effect. Similarly, combining it with retinol can help in reducing the signs of ageing. Niacinamide also helps ease irritation, redness and dryness caused by retinol.
How is it typically used?
To reap the benefits of niacinamide, you can incorporate it into your skin care routine in the form of a potent serum, a moisturiser or a lotion. It absorbs easily into your skin and can be used daily. When layering it with other formulations, go in the order of the thinnest to thickest texture. For instance, if you’re using a niacinamide serum, apply it on a cleansed face (or on top of vitamin C serum) before the moisturiser.
Make sure to introduce this ingredient in your skin care routine in low concentrations (if you’re a beginner) to let your skin get used to it and then gradually increase it over time. Remember to finish your morning skin care with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
Here are some of the best niacinamide serums to pick your favourite from
(Main Image Courtesy: First Aid Beauty ; Featured Image Courtesy: Glow Recipe)
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- The Ordinary Niacinamide
- Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
- The Derma Co 10% Niacinamide Face Serum
- Minimalist 10% Niacinamide Face Serum
- First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum
- Plum 10% Niacinamide Face Serum
- The Inkey List Niacinamide
- Cos De Baha Niacinamide 10 Serum
- Re'equil Pore Refining 5% Niacinamide Serum
- Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops
- Earth Rhythm 10% Niacinamide Serum
- St.Botanica Niacinamide 10% Serum
- InstaNatural Niacinamide Serum
- Dr. Sheth's Centella & 10% Niacinamide Face Serum
- Pilgrim Niacinamide & Alpha Arbutin Skin Clarifying Serum
A high-strength vitamin and mineral formula, The Ordinary Niacinamide Serum with 10 percent niacinamide and one percent zinc is probably everyone’s favourite. It significantly reinforces skin barrier function, enhances its smoothness and improves radiance with time. It’s also known to reduce congestion and the appearance of blemishes.
Image: Courtesy The Ordinary
Paula’s Choice is one of the best skin care brands, and this booster serum with concentrated 10 percent niacinamide is a game changer. Its unique formulation also includes natural, calming and hydrating ingredients that manage skin issues like enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, dullness, dryness, deteriorating skin texture and redness. The serum has a lightweight water-like texture and is suitable for all skin types.
Image: Courtesy Paula’s Choice
Formulated with zinc, The Derma Co 10 Percent Niacinamide Face Serum is the ultimate solution to all your acne marks and sebum production woes. From reducing the appearance of various signs of ageing to working on active acne, this serum is a must in your skin care collection.
Image: Courtesy The Derma Co
Another skincare favourite that people swear by is the Minimalist’s niacinamide serum, enriched with a unique blend of vitamin B3, zinc, hyaluronic acid and antioxidant EUK-134. Together, these ingredients target skin conditions like acne, blemishes, sebum production and oiliness, along with helping restore the health of your skin. Ideal for all skin types, the lightweight serum is non-comedogenic, fragrance-free and has a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
Image: Courtesy Minimalist
A niacinamide-powdered serum, the Facial Radiance Dark Spot Serum by First Aid Beauty helps reduce the look and appearance of dark spots, sun spots, discolouration, hyperpigmentation and acne marks. This clean and cruelty-free formula is further infused with licorice root and golden kiwi fruit, which lends a healthy-looking and radiant complexion. You can use this niacinamide serum over the entire face or only on the problem areas.
Image: Courtesy First Aid Beauty
Consisting of rice water to give you clear, blemish-free and bright skin, the Plum Niacinamide Serum is a great addition to your skin care regimen. While vitamin B3 (niacinamide) in the product does its job, the rice ferment extract minimises fine lines and wrinkles, clears blemishes and shrinks pores. Additionally, the olive-derived squalane fights free radicals and reduces signs of ageing.
Image: Courtesy Plum
Packed with 10 percent niacinamide and one percent hyaluronic acid for effective delivery and added hydration, it is one of the best niacinamide serums by The Inkey List. Suitable for all skin types, it is lightweight and effectively targets redness, excess oil and enlarged pores.
Image: Courtesy The Inkey List
With 10 percent niacinamide, one percent zinc, licorice and pure hyaluronic acid, the Cos De Baha Niacinamide Serum for skin is a complete treatment in a bottle. It alleviates skin conditions like uneven skin texture, oversized pores, compromised skin barrier, breakouts, hyperpigmentation, scarring and premature ageing. It has a non-greasy texture made without parabens, alcohol, fragrance and gluten.
Image: Courtesy Cos De Baha
An amazing solution to all your pore troubles, the Re’equil Pore Refining serum, with five percent niacinamide and astringent like Yarrow extract, works wonderfully. It decongests pores and minimises their size for a refined skin texture. It also firms and smoothens the skin, enhancing its hydration levels, elasticity and radiance.
Image: Courtesy Re’equil
A best-selling skincare product by Glow Recipe, the Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops can work wonders for your skin. It is a first of its kind highlight skin care and makeup hybrid that visibly brightens skin and lends a natural glow over time. It also reduces hyperpigmentation, without leaving a grey cast. It has a lightweight buildable texture that absorbs easily into the skin. It is ophthalmologist-tested, making it suitable for the eye area, and ideal for all skin types, including acne-prone and oily skin.
Image: Courtesy Glow Recipe
With niacinamide, phytoceramides and hyaluronic acid in its make, this serum by Earth Rhythm supports your skin barrier, improves its texture and evens out the skin tone. It helps in reducing acne and improving the overall health of your skin. With a pH value of 5.5 to 6.5, the serum is light and non-greasy.
Image: Courtesy Earth Rhythm
Having potent ingredients like vitamin B3, zinc and hyaluronic acid, this face serum by St.Botanica has multiple benefits for your skin. It’s a daily nourishing serum that improves the skin’s resilience and texture, making it soft and firm. It strengthens the outer layer of your skin by enhancing its barrier function, reducing inflammation and controlling sebum production.
While the presence of zinc minimises the harmful effects of free radicals, hyaluronic acid ensures hydration and improves skin elasticity. The serum is also infused with the goodness of caffeine powder, olive leaf extract and lactic acid. It is ideal for oily and combination skin types.
Image: Courtesy St.Botanica
Formulated with hyaluronic acid, rosemary extract, vitamin E and avocado oil, this niacinamide serum soothes, firms and replenishes your skin perfectly. While it treats redness and breakouts, it also fights signs of ageing and minimises their appearance with consistent use. It is suitable for people with acne-prone, dry, dehydrated and sensitive skin.
Image: Courtesy InstaNatural
Working wonderfully against acne, oiliness and pigmentation is Dr. Sheth’s Centella and Niacinamide Serum, specially created for sensitive Indian skin. From controlling sebum production and pigmentation to reducing acne, scars, redness and inflammation, this serum does it all. It also leaves a hydrating and soothing effect on the skin and has a non-toxic, vegan and pregnancy safe formulation.
Image: Courtesy Dr. Sheth’s
As the name suggests, the Pilgrim Skin Clarifying Serum refines your skin texture by targeting scars, spots, pigmentation and enlarged spots. It’s a daily serum that helps in skin brightening, boosting collagen production and enhancing the skin’s health. It is non-greasy, lightweight and is made with no parabens or sulphates.
Image: Courtesy Pilgrim
Niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient that works for almost everyone. It is gentle on the skin and well-tolerated by all skin types. And for how it can be combined with a lot of other active ingredients, including it in your skin care routine is one of the best things you can do for your skin.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: You can use the Minimalist niacinamide serum every day, in the morning and at night. On a cleansed and toned face, apply two to three drops of the serum, and let it fully absorb into the skin. Follow it up with an oil-based serum (optional), a moisturiser and a sunscreen.
Answer: Yes, you can use a niacinamide-based product or serum twice every day.
Answer: Every product affects the skin differently, depending on the skin type and conditions. However, one usually starts noticing the results after two to four weeks of consistent use (depending on the concentration of the product and the severity of your skin issues). You might also notice more changes post eight weeks of regular usage. It is important to stick to your routine and be patient. If you don’t see any change post that, you may consult your dermatologist for a better and deeper assessment. They would advise you on what products to use, dietary changes (if any) and changes you can make to your lifestyle for healthy skin.
Answer: While choosing the best niacinamide product, always pay attention to its concentration. Anything above 10 percent can be harmful to the skin and can cause redness, itchiness or burning. The most ideal percentage to use is five, and if you’re a beginner or have sensitive skin, two to three percent can be suitable. The next thing to keep in mind is if it is formulated with other ingredients or not. While niacinamide has multiple benefits of its own, it gives better results when paired with other ingredients. While you can layer products, look for other components that are blended with niacinamide and pick a product that addresses your skin concerns accordingly.
Answer: Always start with a cleansed (and toned) face and apply the niacinamide serum before any thick-textured and oil-based serums and moisturisers. Take two to three drops of the serum in your palms and slightly rub them together to spread it before applying it to your face. Now gently massage or dab the serum on your skin with your palms, and let it dry.