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What Does Niacinamide Do for Your Skin?

By Lee Phillips, she/her

Whether it’s because we’re dealing with maskne, or we know so much more about how to achieve skin health these days, great skincare is more of a priority than ever. Unlike some trendy treatments (why did we think pore strips were a good idea?), niacinamide is an ingredient that actually deserves its current moment in the spotlight. The vitamin B3 derivative can be used by almost everyone, and its list of benefits are equally generous. When you look behind the chemical curtain, the science is there to back up the boasting. Vitamin B3 is a key ingredient your body creates to repair and grow cells. With so much power at such a fundamental stage in your skin health, it’s no wonder that niacinamide can do so much for so many. So what exactly does niacinamide do for your skin?

“When you think about niacinamide, the first thing you should think about is that it’s great for healing inflammation, dark spots, and controlling excess sebum,” says Lauren Cummings, Regional Sales + Education Executive for Youth To The People. “It can do a lot of different things, which is why it’s having its heyday right now.”

One thing all skin types can benefit from is relief from maskne. Niacinamide is key in combating breakouts caused by mask wearing due to its anti-inflammatory qualities. 

“As far as inflammation is concerned, the B3 complex is great for that kind of visible redness and inflammation,” says Cummings. “That’s why we’re seeing niacinamide in so many topical products: it’s addressing that visible redness and texture in the skin.” Besides active inflammation in the skin, niacinamide can also help to break up post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, or PIH. Niacinamide promotes healthy cell repair and turnover, which means brightening areas with increased pigmentation. 

Pairing actives can work wonders, too.

“Often you’ll find niacinamide paired in a routine with vitamin C. The combination of the two works really well together because niacinamide increases the efficacy of the vitamin C so that the vitamin C can penetrate deeper,” and therefore decreases hyperpigmentation, says Cummings. 

While many who experience excess sebum might look to salicylic acids or other drying agents to combat their oiliness, niacinamide regulates excess sebum production by getting to the root of the problem. When our skin produces excess sebum, it’s often a result of a weak lipid barrier that is trying to replenish dry skin.

“One of the things that niacinamide does is help to maintain and grow your lipid barrier,” says Cummings. “Your lipid barrier helps to retain moisture. Skin often produces excess sebum because it’s actually dry or dehydrated. Its that sebum helps maintain moisture retention.” Wild, right? For more on that phenomenon, read this.

While pores can’t grow or shrink in size, excess sebum clogs pores and causes blackheads, which may make your pores appear larger. Niacinamide helps to reduce the appearance of pores by regulating sebum. Combined with the decrease in hyperpigmentation and reduction of visible redness and texture, this leaves you with smooth, balanced skin.  

Written by Lee Phillips for Youth To The People