What is niacinamide and how can it benefit the skin?

If there’s one skincare superstar ingredient doing the rounds at the moment, it’s niacinamide. The mouthful of a word seems to be popping up on all types of skincare product nowadays, and the #niacinamide hashtag has been viewed billions of times on TikTok.

But what exactly is this wonder ingredient, how can it benefit the skin and how should you use it? We ask the experts…

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide or nicotinic acid amide, is a form of vitamin B3. It’s a component of a key molecule in the body known as NAD+, which acts as a shuttle, helping our cells carry out a number of essential metabolic processes, and it also has anti-inflammatory effects, explains Dr Emma Wedgeworth, La Roche-Posay consultant dermatologist. "As our skin cells age, our natural NAD+ levels reduce, so applying niacinamide topically can help cells work in a more efficient way,” she says.

What are the skincare benefits of niacinamide?

It’s this wide-ranging boost niacinamide gives to skin cell activity that results in a whole host of complexion benefits. It helps neutralise free radicals and preserve collagen levels, making it a great addition to an anti-ageing regime. It also reduces excess sebum production, which can help to manage oily or blemish-prone skin. 

It can also tackle pigmentation, boost skin barrier function and calm inflammatory conditions such as acne and rosacea, explains Dr Emma.

How should I use niacinamide?

Because it pairs so well with other ingredients, niacinamide can be used in any formula (toners, serums, creams) and used morning and night. No need to avoid using it at the same time as tricksy actives like retinol or acids. “In fact, niacinamide can actually help to increase the tolerability of other more irritant ingredients,” adds Dr Cristina Psomadakis (aka Dr Soma), consulting dermatologist for The INKEY List.

How can I try niacinamide without spending a fortune?

If you fancy enjoying the benefits of niacinamide yourself without splashing a lot of money you’re in luck, as it’s one of the key ingredients in a fantastic serum found inside this month’s OK! Beauty Box. Figs & Rouge Fortify Anti-Pollution & Blue Light Protection Serum is a lovely lightweight formula that hydrates and smooths, while also defending against environmental aggressors.