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Niacinamide for skin: how this suits-all ingredient works

Everyone's skin can reap the benefits of niacinamide—we explain how this versatile ingredient works

It’s fair to say that vitamins are currently storming the skincare world—but move over vitamin C and A (retinol), as the latest cult ingredient is vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacinamide, or nicotinamide.

Unlike hyaluronic acid, our bodies don’t naturally produce niacinamide but we can get it from foods such as kale, fish, beans, almonds and mushrooms. It is also one of the most potent topical anti-inflammatories on the market today.

A multitasking skincare star, this clever ingredient works wonders on anything from skin strengthening to boosting hydration and reducing pigmentation and enlarged pores.

Research has shown that it helps to protect skin from environmental aggressors including pollution, while according to the skincare experts at Olay, it’s also pretty nifty at rejuvenating the eye area – see their product suggestion below.

Is niacinamide for me?

What makes niacinamide so enticing is that this ‘cell communicator’ is effective no matter what your age or skin type.

If you’re young and are suffering with oily skin, give niacinamide a go as it can help regulate sebum production and reduce acne inflammation—it’s also the perfect ingredient to try before moving on to retinol.

If your skin is mature, you’ll find that a product containing a lower amount of the ingredient can help with dryness, fine lines, wrinkles, age spots and discolouration.  

And if you suffer with sensitive skin, you’ll be pleased to know that niacinamide is renowned for its healing and soothing properties. Those with sensitive skin can also apply niacinamide before using their retinol product to help lessen irritation.

And the good news doesn't stop there, as it’s also safe to use during pregnancy.

Intrigued by this versatile ingredient? No matter what your budget, there’s a product out there for you. Below are some of our favourites:

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5

Delivering a 10% hit of niacinamide, this potent serum targets breakouts, minimises pores and decongests by regulating sebum production thanks to its blemish-battling ingredients. It also boosts the skin’s immunity and improves moisture retention, while the inclusion of zinc PCA helps repair damaged skin and boost collagen levels. A great entry point product—and what’s not to like about the price tag?

The Inkey List Niacinamide Serum, £6.99

Another product that won’t bust your beauty budget, this lightweight serum from cult brand The Inkey List is ideal for dehydrated yet oily skin types. Combining a generous 10% niacinamide with 1% hyaluronic acid, it will reduce excess oil, minimise pores and target blemishes and redness while hydrating the complexion.

Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum, £24,

Containing an optimal 5% niacinamide and zinc PCA, this top rated serum helps to reset and nourish skin while visibly improving texture and clarity. Lightweight and oil-free, it also helps reduce the look of congested pores and won’t irritate or upset sensitive skin. The fragrance-free formula is suitable for all skin types. In a clinical trial, 9 out of 10 people said they saw an improvement in skin’s clarity after 6 weeks.

Olay Ultimate Eye Cream, £24.99

Supercharged with vitamin B3 (niacinamide), peptides and colour-correcting technology, this 3in1 cream also acts as a concealer to visibly and instantly reduce dark circles, wrinkles and puffy eyes. Tailor-made to care for the fragile eye area, it’s suitable for normal, dry and oily skin.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, £41, Selfridges

Looking for a decent hit of niacinamide? This concentrated formula also features vitamin B5 (panthenol) and acetyl glucosamine which, when combined with niacinamide, has skin-brightening benefits. Suitable for all skin types, use this lightweight serum regularly and you’ll be rewarded with a more even skin tone, smaller pores and refined texture. It can also be used around the eyes.

Dr Dennis Gross B3 Adaptive SuperFoods Stress Repair Face Cream, £73, 

Formulated with a superfood complex and niacinamide, this skincare treatment cream is designed to reduce the visible signs of stress and help promote a more youthful-looking complexion by minimising fine lines and wrinkles. The vegan, cruelty-free formula hydrates and softens, while strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier.