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!
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.