The Benefits of Niacinamide, Explained

Healthier, more hydrated skin is just one ingredient away.

niacinamide benefits
(Image credit: Francois Durand)

Please do not ask me how to pronounce niacinamide, because I swear I say it differently (and incorrectly) every time. Tricky pronunciation aside, niacinamide is an iconic ingredient that's probably found in at least one of your skincare products (opens in new tab) (and if it’s not, you should get on that). For a more thorough look at this hero ingredient, we spoke to Dr. Marie Hayag (opens in new tab), board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics (opens in new tab), along with Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank (opens in new tab), celebrity cosmetic dermatologist, to answer all the questions you have about the benefits of niacinamide for your skin.

What is niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is, according to Dr. Hayag, "a water-soluble’s found in meat, fish, wheat, and in small quantities, vegetables.” Niacinamide is often found in skincare and cosmetic products, and works to improve your skin’s barrier to help its overall texture while targeting dark spots (opens in new tab).

What are the benefits of niacinamide?

The science of it all is best explained by Dr. Hayag: “The health of the skin barrier is determined by the amount and structure of these components, and niacinamide increases the synthesis of free fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol. Ultimately, this results in a healthier skin barrier and improved skin hydration." The production of these fatty acids is what creates strong and glowy skin.

Other skin-boosting benefits of niacinamide, according to Dr. Hayag and Dr. Frank, include:

How should I use niacinamide?

The best part? Almost everyone can benefit from this ingredient. Dr. Hayag warns that some irritation may occur, but should go away with repeated use; Dr. Frank suggests those with sensitive skin avoid over-using products with this ingredient because that slight irritation could become severe. Basically, you don’t want to overdo it.

However, if you have dry or acne-prone skin, you should really consider adding a niacinamide-specific moisturizer or serum to your routine. “Acne-prone skin benefits from niacinamide as a result of its anti-inflammatory and sebum regulating effects. Additionally, [it] helps provide the necessary ingredients for the skin barrier; it keeps moisture in our skin and alleviates dryness,” says Dr. Hayag.

What are the best niacinamide products?

While there's no single best way to add niacinamide to your routine, Dr. Frank recommends a daily regimen through using niacinamide in a serum or in topical form. “When niacinamide is combined with a moisturizer (opens in new tab), it acts as a calming hydrating boost. It can also help brighten the skin by evening out skin tone and help with wrinkles (opens in new tab) due to its ability to provide collagen.”

You want to make sure you’re not over-using niacinamide-based products. So you don’t need both a serum and a moisturizer with this versatile ingredient—just pick one that works for you. If you're not sure where to start with products, check out our dermatologist recommendations.

Alexis Gaskin is a Freelance Beauty Writer for Marie Claire who can often be found painting her nails to match every outfit. She covers beauty, skincare, and fat fashion and will get distracted by any and all Halsey-related content or anything glittery.