Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Rupali Goswami (Beauty Expert)  on 17th Dec 2020

Benefits of Niacinamide for Acne - Can it really help?

Benefits of Niacinamide for Acne

With all the skincare products available in the market right now, we often fail to recognize what goes into them. Numerous ingredients work wonders for our skin, but some can cause breakouts, especially if these don't suit a particular skin type.

Conventional methods for acne treatments generally involve targeting oil production, dead skin cells removal through exfoliation, reducing inflammation and bacteria. While all these methods are effective, they often create predictable side effects like redness, irritation, dryness, or skin sensitivity. To increase the efficacy and tolerability of these traditional treatments, some natural ingredients can help you in the long-term.

Some ingredients can create magic for you and are suitable for all skin types and all skin concerns. Just like vitamin E oil, vitamin C serums, aloe vera, honey, and other versatile ingredients, comes vitamin B-3 in the same league. It is also called niacinamide

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What is Niacinamide?

While our skin suffers and fights a lot of damage on a day-to-day basis that strips away the skin's natural moisture, leaving it dry, dull, and lifeless, it needs all the necessary hydration that it can get. Niacinamide is one such ingredient that can help your skin come back to life by providing it with all the moisturization and supports the skin's surface layer. It is also helpful to keep your skin hydrated for a more extended period.

Niacinamide is a one-stop destination for all your major skin concerns, including enlarged pores, dullness, dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles. It helps heal your skin from within. 

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Benefits of Using Niacinamide 

Niacinamide partners well with all the other products you may include in your day or night time skincare routines, such as retinol, hyaluronic acid, face oils, toner, moisturizer, AHAs, BHA, or any other skincare product or ingredient.

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This is a naturally occurring vitamin, i.e., vitamin B3. This vitamin is considered necessary for your overall health and helps the brain, nervous system, skin, and digestive tract function.  

But there are some great benefits of niacinamide for acne-prone skin: 

1. Increases ceramides: 

When applied topically, niacinamide helps increase the levels of ceramides and free fatty acids in the outer layer of the skin by decreasing transepidermal water loss in dry skin, which also helps balance out the average moisture levels in the skin.

Ceramides keep the epidermal barrier and lipid layer intact to ensure moisture and suppleness in the skin. This is an essential aspect of acne, as many topical treatments can result in moisture imbalance and dryness. 

2. Anti-inflammatory: 

As acne is an inflammatory condition that leads to delayed healing of pimples and acne scarring.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of niacinamide decrease the overall inflammatory response that hardly results in any pimples.

Reduction in inflammation will also help calm the redness, lessen pores' appearance and other inflammatory skin conditions. 

3. Lowers sebum production: 

Our skin produces natural oils to help maintain the moisture and protect the skin. Still, many times, excessive sebum production, when trapped inside the pores, can result in acne, blackheads, blemishes, etc. Niacinamide is known to help reduce facial sebum production, which is a crucial component to control acne.

Niacinamide helps to return the altered skin barrier to the normal levels that works excellent, especially for oily and acne-prone skin.  

4. Help reduce the activity of bacteria: 

Several factors can cause acne, but the primary agent is Propionibacterium acnes or PA. It is a naturally occurring bacteria and is the main contributor to the acne problem. Topical treatments, including benzoyl peroxide and niacinamide, can help reduce the bacterias' activities on the skin resulting in improving acne. 

5. It balances the melanocytes activity: 

Melanocytes are cells that are located beneath the different layers of our skin. These cells build and carry a pigment called melanin, which can majorly be found in the skin epidermis, hair follicle, and in other parts of the body. Niacinamide can help stabilize melanocytes' activity, which can further help with the residual hyperpigmentation that occurs due to acne scars

How To Use Niacinamide? 

Niacinamide works best when used in serums and can be found in moisturizers, cleansers, face masks, and other varieties of products. Different products include different concentrations of niacinamide.

Studies show that damage caused by environmental stressors and hyperpigmentation can be treated with formulas containing 5 percent niacinamide.

People with more sensitive skin should start with a formula containing only 2 percent niacinamide and work their way up if it suits them well.

Niacinamide is compatible with most skincare products and works best when you use it with a moisturizer. It can be used twice on an everyday basis, and you'll soon be able to see a noticeable difference in your skin. The average time it takes for niacinamide to work is around 8 to 12 weeks.

The one ingredient that is tricky to use with Niacinamide is Vitamin C, as niacinamide can minimize vitamin C benefits. It is advised to use both the ingredients separately to get the most out of it. 

What to look for while choosing a product? 

The concentration of niacinamide can vary depending on the products. Most products contain a formulation of 5 percent or less.

Reports suggest that formulations with 5 percent niacinamide can help treat hyperpigmentation and damage due to sun exposure.

People with sensitive skin are directed to start with the formulation containing 2 percent niacinamide to ease acne and eczema symptoms or similar skin conditions.

Niacinamide may be labeled as "niacin" or "nicotinamide" on products. 

Side Effects of Niacinamide 

Niacinamide is generally considered safe when applied topically on the skin.

People who have prior allergies are more likely to experience an allergic reaction. That's because niacinamide can cause your body to generate histamine.

A patch test can be done to avoid any product sensitivities and allergic reactions.  

To do a patch test, you can follow these steps: 

  • Start by applying a pea-sized amount on your forearm.
  • Wait for 24 hours to see how a particular product works for you. 
  • If you are beginning to experience any redness, swelling, or itching, clean that area properly and discontinue the usage of that particular product. 
  • If your skin responds positively without any side effects, then it should be safe to use elsewhere.

Other Benefits Of Niacinamide 

1. Protection from environmental damage:

Environmental factors like UV rays and pollution encourage a compound called reactive oxygen species, damaging your skin. Our skin naturally has some antioxidant functions to protect against these damages. Using niacinamide topically can have more benefits as it provides an additional layer of protection. 

2. Lessen the appearance of pores: 

Some factors that may determine your pores' size are hair follicle volume, skin elasticity around pores, skincare regimen, hormones, and recurrent acne. As niacinamide helps reduce excessive sebum production, it may help lessen the appearance of your pores. 

3. Decrease fine lines and wrinkles: 

Niacinamide is also known for its anti-aging properties when applied topically on the skin. A 12-week study showed that when 5 percent niacinamide was used topically, 21 percent improvement in fine lines and wrinkles, and the skin clarity of 14 percent and radiance improvement of 15 percent in the skin. 

4. Immunity: 

Niacinamide helps form keratin, a structural protein that maintains your skin, hair, and nails' firmness and health. Keratin can naturally be found in our internal glands and organs. This is a protective protein as it is less prone to tearing or scratching than the other types of cells that our body produces naturally. 

5. Reduce sallowness: 

The skin of some people can have a sallow, yellow cast effect as they get older. Oxidative stress is the reason behind this yellow cast, which increases along with our age. Niacinamide being an antioxidant, can inhibit this oxidative stress. A study found out that using a 5 percent niacinamide formulation twice daily helped reduce the skin's yellowing. 

Skincare products or Food or Supplements? 

The best way to obtain a micronutrient like B3 is by consuming a balanced diet. Supplements should only be taken under medical supervision to treat any deficiencies.

However, you can not identify if the nutrients in your diet impact your skin's overall health. But if you want to make sure that niacinamide targets a particular skin concern, then the only way is to apply it topically on the skin. 

The Final Word 

Niacinamide can provide so many excellent benefits for our skin. Still, just like including any new product in our daily skincare routine takes deliberation and time, our skin takes time to get used to it and needs several weeks to see a significant difference. Using Niacinamide everyday religiously can create a positive impact on our skin in repairing it from within.

Along with drinking lots of water and following your daily routine for healthy skin, it is also essential to be patient while working with new products and ingredients. It does not matter what skin type you have or any skin concerns you may deal with. Niacinamide can take your skincare routine to the next level.