There are some skincare ingredients that are A-list stars. They have true skills that have been well tested over the years and every time they have been they do their A-list thing. They bring awesomeness to your skin. Some are even multi-taskers that have a whole ‘Mary Poppins’ style bag of skin benefits to lend you.
One of these, proven, Mary Poppins-multitasking skincare ingredients that you should absolutely scout for in your skincare is ‘Niacinamide’. Here is why…
WHAT IS NIACINAMIDE?
Some skincare ingredients take a little more time to get to know. They don’t all have as approachable names as ‘Olive oil’ or ‘Green tea extract’, don’t let the intimidating name put you off because this A-list skincare ingredient has a LOT to offer your skin.
Niacinamide is a pre-curser [very sciency sounding word that just means from this the body can make something else] of Vitamin B3.
Whenever I’m looking at a skincare ingredient I always want to know if the body already uses it? Is it something our bodies already need? Is it like giving your body a ‘leafy vegetable’ or a ‘solid rock’ to munch down on? If our bodies already ‘know’ the ingredient and it falls into the ‘leafy vegetable’ category, then usually our bodies are ‘set-up’ to make good use of it as a skincare ingredient. It also means it ‘works with’ your skin which is a BONUS for sensitive skin types.
Niacinamide is naturally found in our diet in trace amounts in fish (salmon, tuna…), white meat, eggs, flour and lentils. It’s even added to some foods (‘fortified’) by law, that’s what happens here in the UK where it’s added back into flour because the production process can degrade it. The body uses Niacinamide to make enzymes [keys that unlock biological ‘doors’] that help your body to do all the things that keep it healthy and fighting fit.
WHAT DOES NIACINAMIDE DO FOR YOUR SKIN?
You know those pie charts that always get brought out in ‘personal development’ sessions. Are you more of an auditory, visual or kinetic leaner? Do you negotiate in an analytical, expressive, driving or collaborative way? You are supposed to fit into one of those boxes and it helps you to recognise your strengths. If Niacinamide was on that training course with you, (s)/he would be all over that pie chart! Here we go…
Brightens & evens out skin tone. This means Niacinamide is great for anyone with hyperpigmentation/post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation [the brown marks that spots leave behind] and for anyone who feels their skin tone is lack-lustre. With a dose of 2-5% Niacinamide helps to ‘brighten’ darkened areas of the skin.
Helps skin hold onto MORE water. If your reading about this ingredient in ‘sciency’ words, you’ll hear that said as it decreases TEWL [trans-epidermal water loss] and improves skin barrier function. #SimplesPlease. When your skin is properly hydrated it is in optimum wrinkle fighting mode. A good skin barrier is like the ‘Power Ranger’ [remember those guys?] squad to wrinkle defence. How does it do this? Niacinamide increases your skins free-fatty acid and ceramide content [those are 2 of the 3 ingredients that form your skins natural barrier]. It basically gives your skin an A+++ raincoat that keeps skin hydration locked in! At a 2% concentration of Niacinamide, it’s even better than Vaseline for keeping skin hydrated.
Battles spots and acne. A 4% dose of Niacinamide has been tested better than an antibiotic based prescription spot treatment (clindamycin). Thought to work because Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory powers. Another skill which helps in the battle vs. spots and acne is that Niacinamide can reduce your skin’s sebum production, at 2% it also helps to reduce the oiliness of skin.
Anti-aging, wrinkle fighting. At a 4-5% dose the anti-wrinkle powers of Niacinamide are un-leased. This skin-loving ingredient is very good at penetrating skin, which means it can act on the deeper layers of your skin giving longer-term effects.
Say good-bye to red blotchiness. Which is great if you suffer from skin conditions like Rosacea. Scientists have shown that Niacinamide helps to reduce symptoms of Rosacea, we think that is all credited to its skill set of improving your ‘skin barrier’ which then makes your skin a whole lot healthier.
WHAT DOSE OF NIACINAMIDE SHOULD I USE?
If you want effective skincare then the dose is really important. If there isn’t enough of an ingredient then it is like eating 5 grapes to claim you have eaten your ‘5 fruit & veg’ for the day! Niacinamide is most active at concentrations between 2 and 5%.
My advice, if you are looking for skin hydration benefits then go for 2%, if you want stronger anti-acne and anti-wrinkle effects then choose 4% or more.
WHAT PRODUCTS CONTAIN NIACINAMIDE?
With all the multi-tasking skin love this ONE skincare ingredient has for skin, I bet you’re wondering where you can find it. I mean it’s not every day you meet someone else as brilliant at multi-tasking as YOU ‘eh *wink wink*.
The Ordinary – Niacinamide serum (£5/30ml) or niacinamide powder (20g/£4.90) – what a price tag eh and I can promise you these formulas are not skimping. Either of these make a great starting point. Read this review to decide if the serum or powder format is best for you.
Olay – Professional Deep Wrinkle Complex – £29.99/30ml. Niacinamide is the 3rd ingredient on the list! That means there is 3rd most of this in the cream – YAY! Olay are a good bet for a dose of Niacinamide and most of their anti-aging creams contain it, there is also their ‘Anti-wrinkle Pro-vital Day Cream SPF 15’ and their ‘Anti-wrinkle Firm & Lift Night Cream’, [the night cream also has a high dose of petrolatum so expect it to be quite heavy on the skin].
Paula’s Choice – Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream – $28.00/2oz. As with most of Paula’s Choice Skincare there is a little bit of everything in here. Niacinamide is partnered up with lots of other antioxidants, plant oils, ceramides, cholesterol… the list goes on! This is a great little options for skin hydration.
Skinceuticals – Metacell renewal B3 – £96/50ml. Skinceuticals are the ‘BOSE’ of the skincare world. They research away like crazy and therefore you do pay for it in the price tag. This Niacinamide cream contains 5% and is patent pending. Personally I believe you could absolutely gain the same benefits with one of these other options.
Palmers – Cocoa Butter Formula With Vitamin E Eventone Body Milk – £5.89/250ml. A barginlicious option for all over body moisture. Although Palmers don’t tell you how much Niacinamide is in the bottle, based on its position in the ingredients list I would take an ‘educated guess’ of 1-2%. It also gets ‘buddied’ up with a fat soluble version of vitamin C (Ascorbyl Palmitate) which will work well with Niacinamide to back a brightening punch – sensitively!
Have you been hunting for Niacinamide in your skincare? Tell me which you’d love to try out from the list above…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who’s more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She’s founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Find out more here.