Taking care of your skin is a balancing act. Your objective is to achieve a radiant, moisturized skin tone. Moderating between dry, damaged skin and oily skin is like walking a tightrope.
Striking the appropriate balance is a matter of incorporating the right products into your daily skin care regimen. That includes using high-quality ingredients in the right sequence and at the right time of day.
While streamlining your daily skin care routine can seem like a daunting task, the modern-day skin care industry is rife with products that will help you take control of your skin's health. One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal? Niacinamide.
What is Niacinamide?
What exactly is niacinamide? In short, niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, one of our body's essential vitamins and minerals. Niacinamide should not be confused with niacin. Niacin is a more commonly found version of vitamin B3. While the two are different items at heart, it should be noted that your body is able to take niacin from food intake and synthesize it into niacinamide if large enough quantities are present.
What does vitamin B3, and niacinamide in particular, do for the body? When eaten, niacin aids in converting food into energy. When it comes to your skin's outer layer, however, there are benefits abound, primarily rebuilding key proteins and locking in moisture. Let's explore the benefits of topical niacinamide in their entirety.
The Benefits of Niacinamide
When it comes to your skin's health, niacinamide is anything but a one-note concert. The benefits of topical niacinamide use are numerous. They include:
1. Reduces hyperpigmentation
Hyperpigmentation is a common skin condition that involves dark patches of skin on the face, hands, or other areas of the body. Hyperpigmentation is usually caused by cumulative exposure to the sun, an increase in hormone production, or a combination of those factors.
In both cases, the body produces extra melanin, resulting in the formation of dark splotches. Niacinamide helps to reduce the production of melanin by inhibiting its creation at the cellular level. Niacinamide works to stop melanocytes from interacting with keratinocytes, thus spreading melanin through the skin's surface.
2. Boosts Skin Radiance
Topical niacinamide also helps to trap in just the right amount of sebum —the skin's natural oil— hydrating your skin.
The antioxidants contained in niacinamide help to eliminate the free radicals responsible for skin's aging, restoring and brightening your skin in the process.
Not only does niacinamide reduce the sallow, sunken look of unhealthy skin while promoting a healthy glow, it actively helps rebuild the body's natural defenses, which leads us to our next point.
3. Enhances Barrier Functions
Niacinamide use helps the body create two key components that help protect your skin's outer layer: ceramides and elastin. Topical niacinamide spurs the body to produce these crucial compounds, which in turn help tighten and strengthen the skin, sealing in precious hydration while blocking out harmful UV rays, environmental pollution, and other factors that cause oxidative stress on your skin.
4. Calms irritated and inflamed Skin
As mentioned before, sebum is the oil that your skin naturally produces. Sebum helps to regulate your body's temperature. Too little sebum, and your skin's texture becomes dry and scaly. Too much, and you set the stage for an acne breakout.
Niacinamide serves to regulate your skin's sebum production. You gain all the benefits of your body's natural hydration with significantly reduced risk of blemishes and breakouts.
The anti-inflammatory properties of niacinamide help to counteract these breakouts. Topical products work to keep inflammation from happening at the cellular level, reducing reddened, aggravated skin, psoriasis, and acne breakouts right at the source.
5. Counteracts Premature Skin Aging
Free radicals are uncharged electrons that wreak havoc on organic material including our skin. Niacinamide contains antioxidants; when applied to the skin's surface, niacinamide changes into a compound called NAD which helps to eliminate free radicals, all while blocking harmful exposure to the sun's UV rays.
Choosing the Right Niacinamide Concentration for Your Skin
In terms of your skin's health, topical niacinamide is an incredible source of vitamin B3 which is crucial to the skin's outer layer and overall moisture retention. When it comes to niacinamide, however, not all products are created equal. Finding the ideal product is a matter of finding the right niacinamide concentration, then working it into your existing skin care regimen effectively. Here are some things that you should keep in mind when you are choosing a product that's right for your needs.
Overusing Does Not Provide Additional Benefits
There's an old saying: too much of a good thing is no longer a good thing. Although topical products containing niacinamide may seem like a silver bullet in terms of skin care, they require careful use in order to retain their effectiveness.
Instead of adding benefits, overuse can actually trigger additional side effects, including:
- Skin irritation
- Allergic reactions
- Stinging sensations
If you experience any of these side effects, consider reducing your frequency of use, the concentration of the product that you use, or even discontinuing use altogether.
Concentrations Between 3-5% are ideal
Unsure of what concentration is right for you? Never fear, most of the products on the market fall between the 3-5% range —and with good reason.
Use anything above 5%, and you run the risk of experiencing skin irritations and other reactions. Below 3% and the product loses its effectiveness; it is too diluted to do any good. Look for products that fall within the sweet spot, 3-5%.
Use Caution When Integrating Niacinamide Into Your Existing Routine
Niacinamide topicals are extremely effective when it comes to locking in moisture and promoting your natural glow, but sometimes they don't interact well with other ingredients. Take caution when pairing niacinamide topicals with the following:
- Ethyl ascorbic acid
- Azelaic acid
For example, ethyl ascorbic acid (vitamin C) does not combine well with niacinamide. Together, the two cause increased irritation, flushing, and can even worsen skin issues such as rosacea. This is primarily due to the fact that both compounds have a different pH value, causing them to work against one another rather than improving the health of your skin.
Compounds such as BHA and AHA aren't strictly a no-go when mixed with niacinamide, but you have to pay careful attention to the timing of their use. If used one right after the other, AHA, BHA, and niacinamide can cause minor skin irritations. Instead, try to stagger their use at least 30 minutes apart. Better still, use the topical niacinamide in the morning and your AHA/ BHA products at night.
The same goes for Vitamin C, or even azelaic acid, which should be staggered or administered at alternate points in the day in order to maximize their effectiveness while reducing irritation.
Incorporating Niacinamide Into Your Daily Routine
Niacinamide provides incredible benefits to your skin. It can help reduce and eliminate free radicals, easing wrinkles and age marks while simultaneously protecting you from the sun's harmful UV rays. It helps bring out your skin's natural glow by regulating the epidermis' sebum production while locking in that moisture with a protective barrier. In short, niacinamide should be a key part of everyone's daily skin care regimen.