Niacinamide Products for the Face: Is It Worth It to Use Them?

The use of niacinamide has recently become popular because of its many skin benefits. Depending on what conditions you want to treat, you can take it orally or use it topically. Niacinamide is generally well tolerated with few side effects. Read on to learn how it can help your skin, the best formulations, and how to use it.

Key takeaways:

What is niacinamide?


Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve when they encounter water in the body; therefore, your body cannot store them like fat-soluble vitamins. You must ingest water-soluble vitamins daily as a supplement or in your diet. The body can manufacture niacinamide by converting the amino acid tryptophan to niacin and then to niacinamide. Niacinamide is crucial to certain important bodily functions, such as converting nutrients to energy, repairing damaged DNA, and scavenging free radicals before they destroy the body.

Niacinamide supplements for skin

Niacinamide supplements are effective at helping to treat certain medical conditions, such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and hyperphosphatemia (too much phosphate in the body from dialysis). Recently, researchers found that daily intake of niacinamide may reduce the risk of skin cancer. It is also useful in treating pellagra, a vitamin B3 deficiency characterized by a rash and systemic symptoms. There are no studies supporting the use of oral niacinamide for other skin issues.

How topical niacinamide helps facial skin

Topical niacinamide has recently become popular for treating various skin issues, such as the signs of aging. It is usually well-tolerated with very few side effects. The key to success with any topical product is consistency and patience. It can take at least three months of daily use to see improvements with niacinamide.

Here are some skin issues it can help with:

  • Aging. Niacinamide is a potent antioxidant that scavenges up free radicals produced by the sun that destroy collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Antioxidants also help prevent DNA damage that leads to skin cancer.
  • Dark spots. Niacinamide prevents the production of melanin, which is the pigment that causes dark spots.
  • Dry skin. Niacinamide improves the skin's protective lipid barrier to decrease water loss, which leads to dry skin.
  • Red, inflamed skin. Niacinamide is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that helps lessen redness and irritation.
  • Acne. Niacinamide decreases oil production, which is partially responsible for acne breakouts.

Tips for choosing a topical niacinamide formulation


Topical niacinamide is available in creams, lotions, gels, serums, and toners. With so many formulations of niacinamide available, choosing the one that's right for you can be daunting. Selecting the formulation based on your skin type will give you the best chance for success.

  1. If you have oily skin, look for gels, serums, or toners.
  2. Dry skin responds best to creams and lotions, but serums are also beneficial.
  3. If you have sensitive skin, creams may be best.

Many topical products combine niacinamide with other beneficial ingredients to enhance the results in a shorter period. Many products blend other antioxidants with niacinamide, such as vitamin E or resveratrol, to create a powerhouse formula. Some sunscreens contain niacinamide too. Pigment-fighting products may utilize niacinamide and vitamin C. Acne products may mix salicylic acid with niacinamide for better results.

How to use topical niacinamide

To reap the full benefits of niacinamide, you must use it once to twice a day. Consistent daily use will give you quicker rewards as well. If you have sensitive skin, always try a test spot of any new product and use it once a day. If your skin tolerates it, you can always increase it to twice a day later.

Layering your products correctly also will help you get the best results from your skincare products. After washing your face, apply your niacinamide toner. If you like niacinamide serums, apply those after your toner but before your moisturizer. Use niacinamide moisturizers after serums but before your sunscreen.

Who should not use niacinamide?

Patients using oral niacinamide report very few side effects; however, some patients should avoid it. If you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding
  • On kidney dialysis
  • Have stomach ulcers

It can also interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners. Always check with your doctor before starting a new supplement.


Topical niacinamide can benefit everyone. As with many products, avoid using it while pregnant or breastfeeding unless your doctor approves it. If you are concerned about starting it, talk to your dermatologist first. You can try a test spot with the lowest concentration of niacinamide once daily. If your skin tolerates it, you can build up to twice a day.

Side effects of niacinamide

Niacinamide is generally well tolerated with few side effects. Oral niacinamide may cause upset stomach, dizziness, headache, or rash. Topical niacinamide may rarely cause itching, redness, or burning in some patients. Always talk to your doctor first before starting any new supplements or skincare products.

Niacinamide can help a wide variety of skin issues, depending on whether you use it topically or orally. Be sure to select the correct formulation for your skin type and layer it correctly. Consistency and patience are critical to achieving the best results. As with any new product, talk to your doctor first before starting it to ensure it is right for you.


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