What to Know About Niacinamide Skin Care

Medically Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on May 21, 2023
4 min read

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B-3 and is also called nicotinamide. The other one is nicotinic acid. Vitamin B-3 is an essential nutrient, and its deficiency can lead to skin, kidney, and brain disorders. The nutrient is present in foods like certain greens and whole grains. The synthetic form of niacinamide is useful in the making of moisturizers, serums, and skincare products.

Research on the benefits of niacinamide to your skin is still in its early stages, but topical niacinamide contains properties that help treat some skin conditions like acne and eczema. This is because it works by helping the skin build proteins and lock in moisture to prevent the damaging effects of external factors.

Builds skin immunity. The components of niacinamide are restorative. They help restore cellular energy of the skin's cells and repair damaged DNA.

The nutrient also reduces the immunosuppressive effects of the sun’s UV rays, fighting off external and internal stressors that contribute to the degeneration of your skin and are a cause premature aging.

Niacinamide also helps prevent the transfer of pigment within the skin, meaning that you'll have fewer brown spots. The anti-inflammatory properties also reduce redness and red patches. Overall, you'll have stronger skin that preserves hydration for improved skin health.

Prevents Skin Cancer. In the New England Journal of Medicine, a 2015 study showed that one of the things that niacinamide may do best is preventing skin cancer. Researchers observed the reaction of the nutrients in 386 patients for 12 months. The study's participants would orally consume the nutrient twice a day.

All the participants had non-melanoma skin cancers within the past five years. This means they were also at high risk of getting another skin cancer. The results at the end of the study period showed that cancer cases in the participants reduced by 23%. But this study didn't prove that taking two niacinamide capsules daily will definitively prevent skin cancer. The participants in the study had a history of skin cancer, but the nutrient's effects on the general public are not known yet. Ask your dermatologist about oral niacinamide if you have had multiple non-melanoma skin cancers before.

It contains anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-inflammatory properties in this nutrient make it an ideal treatment for skin inflammation.

In one study in the International Journal of Dermatology, a topical mixture of 4% of the nutrient was as effective as 1% clindamycin in acne treatment. Clindamycin is used in the treatment of various bacterial infections.

Topical niacinamide also inhibits the production of oil, which is a benefit to people dealing with acne. The element is also non-irritating compared to most other acne treatments on the market. It makes for an attractive treatment option for people with sensitive or dry skin.

When taken as an oral supplement, studies show that niacinamide reduces inflammation associated with mild to moderate acne. It works effectively where oral antibiotics fail or are not an option. In severe cases of the condition, systemic steroids or retinoids may be better treatment options, not vitamins. Limited evidence also shows that topical niacinamide works to repair the function of the outer protective skin layer.

Niacinamide can also help with fine lines, pigmentation, and wrinkles. A few studies published a couple of years ago show significant improvements in fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. That study needs further research as another split-face study seems to suggest that the nutrient is ineffective.  In treating melasma, which are patches of discoloration, for example, 4% hydroquinone was found more effective than 4% niacinamide.

If you're considering using niacinamide to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots, it’s best to combine it with other ingredients. Brightening ingredients like kojic acid that comes from mushrooms and is also a byproduct of fermented rice is a good option.

When using niacinamide as a supplement, combining it with zinc, folic acid, and copper will make it work better in treating acne.

You'll also reap more benefits from the product if you use it alongside hyaluronic acid, which increases absorption. While you may not see any significant results during the first few weeks, there should be a notable difference by about four weeks. After eight weeks, you should notice more hydrated, smoother, and toned skin.

If you don't see any results within a few months, consult with your skincare specialist. They will assess your skin and skincare routine and advise you on the products to incorporate in taking care of your skin. Be sure not to take niacinamide supplements without your doctor’s advice.