The Benefits of Niacinamide in Skincare

May 18, 2021 3 min read

The Benefits of Niacinamide in Skincare

The skincare industry is a big business nowadays. The competing manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for new "magic" ingredients that can make their products stand out from the rest. Sometimes they are successful.

In most cases, however, it all comes down to a few well-tested and scientifically proven nutrients and antioxidants that cover most skin issues. These are vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide (vitamin B3). The latter one is the subject of this article.


Mistaking niacinamide for niacin is a common mistake many people make. Both are forms of vitamin B3, but they benefit the body in different ways.

Niacin is used in cholesterol treatment, while niacinamide is often a part of topical formulas in skincare.

Niacinamide has many benefits for the skin. It improves the skin’s lipid barrier and prevents loss of moisture. Additionally, niacinamide:

  • Inhibits sebum production
  • Reduces inflammation and redness
  • Shrinks pores
  • Brightens the skin
  • Boosts the skin repair process

Later, we will provide more details about each of these benefits, but now let’s explain what niacinamide is?

What is niacinamide?

Vitamin B3 is an essential nutrient, and niacinamide is one of its forms. The deficiency of this vitamin can have severe consequences for health.

Since vitamin B3 is a water-soluble vitamin, its excretion from the body is simple. So, it requires regular dietary intake. Red meat, animal liver, fatty fish, and leafy greens are all quality sources. Also, many staple foods contain vitamin B3 because of fortification.

For the skin, however, diet is not the only source of niacinamide. The largest of all organs can "feed" from both inside and outside. Topical niacinamide can address most skin issues on all skin types, with great success.

The Benefits of Niacinamide for the Skin

Because of its known positive effects on the skin's lipid barrier function, niacinamide is the subject of many studies about eczema and acne treatment. The combination of its skin benefits is promising, but more research remains necessary.

Here are five proven skin benefits of niacinamide:

  1. Regulation of sebum production

A study done in Japan measured the Sebum Excretion Rate (SER) in two groups of participants. The results showed significantly lower SER in people of Japanese ethnic background who were using a 2% niacinamide moisturizer for four weeks, compared to those who didn’t.

The Caucasian participants displayed similar SER values for both groups. Still, the individuals who used niacinamide had significantly lower Casual Sebum Levels (CSL).

  1. Lipid barrier improvement

Ceramides are waxy molecules that form sphingomyelin. This substance is a significant component of the skin's lipid barrier. Niacinamide boosts the production of ceramides in the skin and strengthens this protective layer. The results are:

  • Fewer signs of aging
  • Higher moisture content
  • Lower risk of eczema and psoriatic flare-ups


  1. Brightening of the skin

Niacinamide inhibits the transfer of the pigment (melanin) to keratinocytes. These cells make up 90% of the skin's outer layer (epidermis). As a result, the skin becomes brighter and less prone to photo-aging.

  1. Skin repair boost

Topical niacinamide boosts the production of keratin, the main structural protein of the skin. More keratin equals firmer and healthier skin.

  1. Reduced inflammation

Niacinamide stops the leukocytes from migrating into the skin and inhibits the synthesis of some inflammatory cytokines.

The Bottom Line

Niacinamide can improve the appearance and health of your skin, but the results are not instantly visible. The condition of the skin will improve gradually with long-lasting benefits. But, we can all agree that brighter, smoother, and inflammation-free skin is well worth the wait.


Draelos ZD, Matsubara A, Smiles K. The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2006 Jun;8(2):96-101. DOI: 10.1080/14764170600717704. PMID: 16766489.
Tanno O, Ota Y, Kitamura N, Katsube T, Inoue S. Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier. Br J Dermatol. 2000 Sep;143(3):524-31. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2000.03705.x. PMID: 10971324.
Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31. DOI: 10.1046/j.1365-2133.2002.04834.x. PMID: 12100180.
Gehring W. Nicotinic acid/niacinamide and the skin. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2004 Apr;3(2):88-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2130.2004.00115.x. PMID: 17147561.
Bierman JC, Laughlin T, Tamura M, Hulette BC, Mack CE, Sherrill JD, Tan CYR, Morenc M, Bellanger S, Oblong JE. Niacinamide mitigates SASP-related inflammation induced by environmental stressors in human epidermal keratinocytes and skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2020 Oct;42(5):501-511. DOI: 10.1111/ics.12651. Epub 2020 Aug 20. PMID: 32657437.



Dr. Rosmy Barrios

Dr. Barrios is a medical doctor and an expert in the field of Regenerative Aesthetics.


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