Back To Basics: How to use niacinamide effectively in your skincare routine
16 March 2023

The Straits Times


Move aside, vitamin C and retinol.


The biologically active form of vitamin B3 (niacin), called niacinamide or nicotinamide, has emerged as one of skincare’s most versatile ingredients and is now found in a plethora of skincare products – from moisturisers and serums to sunscreens and face washes. 


While one can get niacinamide orally through the food one eats, it will have more direct benefits when applied topically to the skin. 


Niacinamide has a host of benefits, says Dr Vivian Yong, medical director of aesthetic clinic IDS, likening it to Vitamin C and retinol.

"But unlike vitamin C, niacinamide is a very stable ingredient with antioxidative properties. And unlike retinol, which can be a harsh ingredient, niacinamide is a useful alternative with anti-aging and acne-controlling effects. As such, niacinamide is suitable for those with acne, rosacea, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles."


However, she adds, combining these ingredients will yield a better result. "If your skin can tolerate more active ingredients, a combination treatment works better. Different ingredients may act via different cellular pathways to create a synergistic result."


The key to using any skincare product, however, is to be patient.


"As a general rule, topical skincare does take some time to produce results. Give a new product at least four to 12 weeks. Take a good quality photo before starting a skincare product, and again at about 12 weeks to assess how your skin is responding," she advises.


Here are other tips from Dr Yong on using niacinamide:


1. Consistent use is key

Start with using the product every morning and evening. This can gradually be increased to twice daily.


2. Use an ideal dose

Topical niacinamide at 5 per cent or less is unlikely to cause side effects. For those with stubborn concerns, such as severe sun damage, oil-related bumps and large pores, there are highly concentrated niacinamide products of up to 20 per cent. 


3. Great for sensitive skin

Topical niacinamide is very safe for the majority of people. For those with sensitive skin, start with a concentration under 5 per cent and increase over time. 


4. The longer, the better

Look for skincare products that can be left on the skin to provide sufficient time for active ingredients to be absorbed. 

Niacinamide in leave-on products such as serums and moisturisers are more effective than niacinamide in rinse-off products like cleansers. 


5. A team player

Niacinamide is a well-tolerated active that works well with most skincare ingredients. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) are often paired with niacinamide to reduce the irritation potential of AHAs. 

Niacinamide complements the action of salicylic acid to reduce sebum production in oily skin and reduce the inflammation of acne. 

The ingredient can also be combined with others such as kojic acid, arbutin and tranexamic acid, as well as retinol, to boost tolerability and provide synergistic results for anti-aging purposes. 


6. Do not put all your eggs in one basket

You can use multiple niacinamide products in your regimen. However, it may be better to incorporate different active ingredients rather than the same ones in your various skincare steps, to reap the benefits of skincare actives.


7. Check the ingredients list 

In skincare, vitamin B3 is usually in the form of niacin, nicotinic acid or niacinamide. Check that it is niacinamide or nicotinamide that is present instead of niacin as too much free niacin or nicotinic acid in a product can cause niacin-based facial flushing. 



Article published by TheStraitsTimes

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