Discover beauty through professional reviews

NOW READING Niacinamide 101: Why Every Skin Type Needs This Wonder Ingredient in Their Routine
March 22, 2019

Niacinamide 101: Why Every Skin Type Needs This Wonder Ingredient in Their Routine

In Korean skincare, niacinamide seems to be in practically every product. But what exactly is niacinamide, aka vitamin B3? And why should you care? Because if you’re into a hearty moisture barrier, anti-acne, anti-inflammation, more collagen, less dark spots, and less bacteria, then yeah, niacinamide is that girl.


It’s the skincare ingredient that all the skincare gurus rave about. It claims to brighten and even skin tone, fade hyperpigmentation scars, fight acne, plump and tighten fine lines — basically, it’s a miracle, and I seek it out in most skincare products I buy.


*drumroll* It’s NIACINAMIDE! Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is in a category with other miracle skincare ingredients like retinol and vitamin C, which means, this sh-t it proven to work. None of that BS over here, folks!


Awesome, but like, what is it? What does it dooooo?!


As I said earlier, niacinamide is the water soluble form of vitamin B3. It is found naturally occurring in our skin and bodies and is an anti-inflammatory, anti-acne, collagen boosting powerhouse. It increases both the fatty acid content and ceramides in the skin, which strengthens the moisture barrier. As you know, a healthy moisture barrier is like the number one step to having the glowy skin of your dreams. When your moisture barrier is healthy, your skin is protected from drying out as well as from harsh environmental elements and bacteria.



Niacinamide even acts as an antibacterial ingredient by balancing oils in the skin, preventing and treating acne, and keeping your skin under control when it’s all irritated. In short, it’s that girl!


What skin types is it good for?


Niacinamide is one of those ingredients that does not discriminate. It loves ALL skin types and all skin types can benefit from its effectiveness. If you have dry skin, you’ll benefit from its moisture barrier protecting properties, and if you on the opposite end of the spectrum and have oily, acne-prone skin, you’ll get some awesome sebum control and some brightening action for your hyperpigmentation. If you have have fine lines and wrinkles, niacinamide is also for you, because it boosts collagen production! It’s also very safe for people with sensitive skin. We stan a multitasking skincare queen!


When can I use it?


Niacinamide isn’t a separate ingredient or step (although The Ordinary does have a niacinamide serum). Instead, niacinamide is an ingredient found in a ton of products. It’s like Mario Kart — when you’re in last place and you get a bullet from one of the boxes and you end up in first place — like a skincare boost!


sandawha niacinamide


Everything from sheet masks, serums, creams, essences, toners — it’s probably in a ton of products that you have on your shelves at home. It’s in the SanDaWha Camellia Flower Antioxidant Cream Mask (one of my all-time favorites), the Secret Key Snail Repairing Cream and Eye Cream (another bae), and like, literally countless other products. I’m currently on a niacinamide cocktail through Curology, and it has drastically improved my skin’s texture, PIH, and acne. I stan!


Debunking the myth


So you may have heard through the grapevine that you can’t use vitamin C and niacinamide together. According to the lore, it’s not that they were harmful to your skin when used together, but that they kind of cancelled each other out — like if you used a vitamin C serum and then a product with niacinamide in it, they just didn’t work together.


For the longest time, I bought into this, carefully making sure to apply my vitamin C serums in the morning and all my niacinamide stuff at night. Turns out, the whole thing is a scam and you can definitely use both at the same time without any ill effects. According to Stephen Ko, cosmetic chemist, there are some chemical reactions that happen, but you aren’t going to die. You should definitely check out his full post for all the deets and science-y stuff. It’s super interesting!


So let’s chat. Are you all about niacinamide? What’s your favorite product with this star ingredient! Let me know in the comments!




Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




I love Niacinamide! I was first introduced to this ingredient through Liah Yoo! She recommended the Primera's Miracle Seed Essence, which was out of my budget. So I've been trying a lot of sheet masks with Niacinamide and I love it! I've been loving La Muse's Skin Repair Signature Mask! The amount of essence in that mask (WOOOOOW A++)!


It is seriously my favorite ingredient in moisturizers and sheet masks!


I currently use several products that contain niacinamide and my skin seems to really like it. I'm going to try The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% to see what a higher percentage can do!


It's my FAVE!


I love The Ordinary Niacinamide. I was so torn about buying it after that whole debacle at the company, but hopefully they'll turn things around over there and help alleviate my guilt!


I am all about the niacinamide!

I've got it through Curology too. I also like it in my other products, and presently use Holy Snails's Shark Sauce. One of the few things I can say for sure about my skin since I started the k-beauty life is that my tone is more even. I've had pale skin with a lot of redness for decades. That redness is fading, and it's making a huge difference. I suspect niacinamide is one of the things I have to thank!


Thank goodness niacinamide seems to be a staple in so many Korean skincare, especially as a first-5 ingredient. It addresses practically every skincare concern I have.

I want to get Shark Sauce next! Do you consider it a must? I currently use The Ordinary's niacinamide serum and wanted to compare.


Excuse me while I get over my flattery that you'd even ask me that question ...

I haven't been using Shark Sauce long enough to know either way. I can tell you it's got more goodies than niacinamide, including licorice root extract and green tea extract. Cat Cactus (whom I adore) used it at one point for hydration in addition to brightening; I think it might be too sticky for that to work for me. Although I still haven't figured out why some things feel sticky to me. (Newb problems.) On the whole I have very positive feelings about it.

I also... Read more


I'm hoping The Ordinary has learned their lesson now that he's obviously no longer with the company (I can't believe he died). Even Sephora took them back (they were gone for a while after their initial fanfare about carrying the brand), so that's made me feel a bit better, because tbh, I really love their Niacinamide Zinc serum. (Not sticky at all and layers beautifully.)

I love licorice and green tea, so I'll definitely have to get some Shark Sauce. Karachi Opara wrote about how she learned that to avoid that sticky feeling, she doesn't let her layers dry down before... Read more


Ohhh, thank you. That might be my problem. I don't see an Opara article that's obviously about stickiness, but I will dig deeper. (Are you aware of any articles that address post-sheet mask stickiness, or any strategies for preventing it? Right now I sometimes take a pad with toner to my face to loosen up the layer that's left after I use most sheet masks.)

And yes, it's incredibly sad that he died. I hope the company culture has healed. It didn't sound to me like a super healthy place to be for a while. I have strong feelings about supporting... Read more


Oops sorry @jane0elaine, Karachi's article will be up soon! But that's basically what she does — not let anything dry down before applying the next layer. I've also heard that spritzing with a mist in between every step helps everything lay down nicely and gives you an extra dose of hydration.

I hate sheet masks with essences that leave my skin sticky afterwards. That's a big criterion for a good sheet mask for me. There's lots that don't leave that sticky feeling: Papa Recipe, Leaders, Keep Cool, etc. If a sheet mask does leave me sticky, I spritz with a face... Read more


I'm a big fan of not letting things dry down before putting on the next layer. I also keep a mist on deck at all times to keep my skin "wet"!


niacinamide is THAT GIRL, okay!