Check out skin care ingredient labels, a scientific-sounding recipe list can be intimidating. An increasingly popular ingredient is niacinamide (pronounced nahy-uh-sin-uh-mayhd), a naturally derived form of vitamin B3. Niacinamide has many skin benefits (which we’ll unpack below), is a dermatologist-approved ingredient, and is safe for almost anyone to try.
If you’re considering adding niacinamide to your skincare routine, here’s what you should know about the anti-aging ingredient.
What is Niacinamide and what does it do?
“Nicotinamide, also known as niacinamide, is the physiologically active form of niacin, or water-soluble vitamin B3,” says Dr. Adeline Kikam, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Brown Skin Derm. Skin care ingredients can help with a variety of skin concerns, especially for those with oily and/or aging skin. “[Niacinamide has] Significant dermatological benefits including regulating excess sebum production (helps control oil), reducing acne and reducing the appearance of pores,” Kikam shares.
Niacinamide isn’t just a beauty buzzword—it’s a skincare staple for a reason: “Niacinamide is becoming more popular because it’s a multifunctional ingredient that can provide a great alternative on its own to help address skin care concerns, such as discoloration and redness, while being gentle on the skin,” explains Dr. Marisa Garcic. “It’s also effective when paired with other ingredients because it can help strengthen the skin barrier by increasing ceramide production, which makes other ingredients more tolerated as well.” Because it complements other skin care ingredients like hyaluronic acid, So you’ll often see niacinamide paired with it in the same formula. According to Garshick, niacinamide also works well with active ingredients like retinol or exfoliants, “which can be added to help improve tolerance or efficacy.”
From improving hyperpigmentation to supporting the skin barrier, niacinamide has many benefits for the skin. “Niacinamide boosts collagen production, improves skin texture, including smoothness, fine lines and wrinkles, and helps brighten and lighten hyperpigmentation by regulating melanosome transfer,” says Kikam. Plus, one of its biggest claims is its ability to minimize pore size by helping to regulate excess sebum production and prevent them from appearing large and crowded.
Overall, it’s a good ingredient for a range of skin concerns, and it’s even safe for those with sensitive skin. “[Niacinamide has] The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties make it ideal for those with acne-prone or rosacea-prone skin,” Garshick points out. Kikam agrees, adding: “All skin types can benefit from niacinamide, especially Oily and acne-prone skin as well as rosacea and uneven skin tone. ”
There are many ways to incorporate niacinamide into your skin care regimen. It’s found in cleansers, moisturizers, serums, eye creams, sunscreens, body products, and more. “One of the most effective ways to incorporate the benefits of niacinamide is in your nighttime skincare routine, as our skin and body work to repair and replenish itself while we sleep,” shares Apto Skincare Esthetician Despina Freimanis.
Plus, dermatologists say there’s little to worry about adding niacinamide to your skin care. “Niacinamide can be used with many other skin care ingredients because it’s gentle on the skin and often improves tolerance,” says Garshick. The only caveat is layering with vitamin C, which may reduce the efficacy of the product. However, Kikam says an easy fix is to cycle through the skin with both ingredients, or wait a few minutes between uses. “Vitamin C works best at lower skin pH and is traditionally unstable, while niacinamide works best at higher/neutral pH,” says Kikam. “Because of this, it’s best to space the two applications a few minutes apart.”
Whether you’re looking for a new facial serum or moisturizer, the experts have their favorite niacinamide products for you.
$17.99 at Sephora and The Inkey List
“If you want a higher concentration of this active ingredient to address specific concerns like excess oil and hyperpigmentation, then go for a serum like Inkey List Supersolutions Excess Oil Solution 20% Niacinamide,” says Kikam. “It’s a very light yet hydrating serum with 20% Niacinamide, the highest concentration ever to balance excess oil. It’s also enriched with 0.5% Zinc PCA, which improves skin texture caused by excess sebum buildup, and 3% squalane to replenish the moisture barrier.” Even better, this gentle formula is fragrance-free and clinically tested to reduce excess oil and improve skin texture and evenness.
$55 at Sephora and Charlotte Tilbury
“This acid-free toner gently exfoliates with ‘exfolactive’ cactus extract, while also helping to improve pores and skin tone with niacinamide,” says Garshick. “It’s a great choice for all skin types, including those with dry or sensitive skin, and can be used every day.”
$10.97 at Amazon and Walmart
Kikam recommends this pore-targeting toner. “If you use a toner after cleansing, this is a great niacinamide toner to incorporate into your skin care,” says a dermatologist. “I love it because it’s alcohol-free, which allows the formula to reduce moisture stripping. It’s also enriched with green tea, which helps boost antioxidants.”
Sephora and Paula’s Choice $52
This intensive treatment uses 20% Niacinamide, Purslane and Acetyl Glucosamine to tighten pores and smooth rough skin texture. You can add it to your routine after your toner, but before a thicker moisturizer.
$9.49 at Target or $14.99 at Walmart
For a targeted dose of niacinamide, Garshick recommends this anti-aging eye cream. “This eye cream with vitamin B3 improves eye discoloration by evening skin tone and reducing hyperpigmentation,” she says. “It also contains retinol, which improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Because vitamin B3 also helps strengthen the moisture barrier, it doesn’t leave skin feeling dry or irritated.”
This tone-correcting treatment that helps improve the appearance of dark spots is another Kikam favorite. “If you’re looking for an even hyperpigmentation product, this is a solid formula that brightens your complexion by combining niacinamide with other anti-pigmentation ingredients like kojic acid and tranexamic acid,” she says. “It’s a great option for those looking for an acid-free alternative to brighten their complexion.”
$55 at Amazon and Nordstrom
This dark spot corrector is designed for darker skin tones but works for everyone, helping to improve hyperpigmentation. Its formula is made with 95.1% natural ingredients, including antioxidant-rich baobab fruit and licorice root to protect against free radicals.
$39 at Ulta and Amazon
“Containing key ingredients to help brighten your complexion, this serum combines niacinamide, glycolic acid and tranexamic acid to help visibly fade dark spots and even out skin tone,” explains Garshick. Dermatologists also love that it’s fragrance-free and suitable for all skin types.
$15.99 $13.97 at Amazon and Walmart or $13.99 at Target
Drugstore Choice contains skin-friendly ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and ceramides, making it a great product for moisturizing the skin and replenishing the moisture barrier. “It’s also very lightweight and can be used by people with oily, dry and dehydrated skin,” says Kikam. “Keep in mind that it can also be used in the morning, there are no ingredients that specifically restrict it to nighttime use.”
$7.99 at Sephora and Inkey List
Garshick also loves The Inkey List’s Simple and Affordable Niacinamide Serum. “This lightweight serum helps improve the appearance of excess oil and redness, gently regulates sebum production and reduces inflammation with niacinamide,” she says. “It can be used once or twice a day and can be used with retinol to help reduce irritation.
$44 at Sephora and Amazon
If you’re after smooth jelly skin, Freimanis loves this soothing serum. She recommends using it at night, “because niacinamide combined with ceramide-5 is the dream of strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier.”
$34 at Sephora and Amazon
“For the day, I recommend Glow Recipe’s new Watermelon Glowing Niacinamide Dewdrops,” says Freimanis. “It gives you a dreamy glow from niacinamide, vitamins, and hydration.” She also loves it for its dewy feel under or on makeup.
$95 at Replenix
Niacinamide brings a brightening effect to this everyday moisturizer. It also contains moisturizing hyaluronic acid, nourishing bioequivalent ceramides and antioxidant-rich proprietary green tea polyphenol technology to smooth texture and strengthen the skin barrier.