QQ: Can I Use Niacinamide to Help Treat My Acne?

QQ: Can I Use Niacinamide to Help Treat My Acne?

QQ: Can I Use Niacinamide to Help Treat My Acne?

Potential Side Effects and Precautions The Final Takeaway

Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) is among the most popular skincare ingredients, often deemed “essential” in TikTok skincare routines. And for good reason: The brightener can help banish dark spots and redness while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

But is the sought-after ingredient good for acne? We asked board-certified dermatologists Marisa Garshick, MD, and Jessie Cheung, MD, to give us the scoop on niacinamide for acne. Read their thoughts below.

What Is Niacinamide?

“Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin with many different benefits for the skin,” explains Garshick. “Niacinamide has become more popular as it is a versatile ingredient that’s a great option on its own to help target skincare concerns such as discoloration and redness while being gentle on the skin.”

The ingredient boosts ceramide production in the skin; this is crucial for maintaining barrier function. This barrier helps keep the skin hydrated and protected from environmental stressors like pollution and UV radiation. Furthermore, niacinamide possesses anti-inflammatory properties that aid in soothing skin redness and irritation.

Does It Work for Acne?

Yes, niacinamide can help with acne, Cheung tells us. “Niacinamide will treat acne and balance oil production while also shrinking the appearance of pores,” she explains. Adds Garshick: “Niacinamide can help to even skin tone and improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation and dark spots.”

Adding It to Your Routine

If you're considering incorporating niacinamide into your skincare routine, there are a few things you'll want to keep in mind. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Patch test: Before using any new product or ingredient, it’s always a good idea to patch (as in test it on a small area of your skin) first. This will help you determine if you have any adverse reactions or allergies to niacinamide.
  • Start small: Cheung recommends starting with a lower concentration in case your skin is sensitive to niacinamide. “It’s safest to look for concentrations from 2-5%, and even up to 10% if your skin tolerates it,” she explains. 
  • Choose the right product: Niacinamide is in various skincare products, including serums, moisturizers, toners, and even spot treatments. Consider your skin type and specific concerns when selecting the most suitable formulation.
  • Don’t overdo it: More is not always better. Using excessive amounts of niacinamide won’t necessarily provide faster or better results. Stick to the recommended usage and allow the ingredient time to work magic.
  • Be patient: Like any skincare ingredient, results may not be immediate. Give yourself time to notice any changes in your skin, as effects can vary depending on individual factors. Consistency is key.

When it comes to products, Garshick has a few favorites. “The TruSkin Niacinamide Serum ($16) works to improve discoloration without irritating the skin. It won’t leave [it] feeling greasy,” she tells us. “MaeLove’s NIA 10 Serum ($32)  is especially great for those with sensitive, inflamed, dry, or acne-prone skin. This calming serum contains niacinamide (vitamin B3), zinc, and white tea extract, helping to reduce redness and soothe the skin.” Chenug likes ISDIN’s Melaclear Advanced ($175), which “combines niacinamide with tranexamic acid and licorice root extract to treat unwanted dark spots, including melasma.”

Potential Side Effects and Precautions

Be mindful of the other ingredients in your routine before adding niacinamide into the mix. “Avoid applying niacinamide at the same time as AHAs or BHAs, as the high pH of niacinamide will affect the absorption of those acids,” Cheung says. That said, there are plenty of ingredients niacinamide plays with nicely. “It may be paired with ingredients such as kojic acid, arbutin, or tranexamic acid to help with pigmentation or other ingredients commonly found in moisturizers such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid,” Garshick tells us.

As mentioned above, niacinamide at higher concentrations may lead to sensitivity or irritation.

The Final Takeaway

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 with many benefits for the skin, including helping to reduce the appearance of acne and acne scarring. If you're looking for a simple way to improve the health and appearance of your acne-prone skin, consider incorporating niacinamide into your daily regimen. With its potent blend of brightening and protective properties, this well-rounded ingredient is a valuable addition to many routines.

Article Sources Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

  1. Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients? J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2):22-41.

  2. Lappas M, Permezel M. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects of nicotinamide, a vitamin B(3) derivative, are elicited by FoxO3 in human gestational tissues: implications for preterm birth. J Nutr Biochem. 2011;22(12):1195-1201.

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