Every now and then a buzzy new ingredient comes along and steps firmly into the skincare spotlight. Taking center stage right now is niacinamide — meaning its blowing up on TikTok and Instagram — which is being used by skincare gurus and beauty influencers as the ultimate multi-tasker for its skin strengthening, smoothing, clearing, and brightening benefits. A quick scroll through social media, chat with a beauty-obsessed friend, or trawl through the beauty counters, will confirm this unsung hero ingredient is indeed having a major moment. Here’s the expert lowdown on why it’s a game changer you need to add to your daily routine right now.
All About Niacinamide
Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 (niacin), and it’s current status as beauty’s new superhero isn’t because it’s a new ingredient or the result of some groundbreaking scientific breakthrough. It all comes down to the fact studies have shown and dermatologists confer: Niacinamide is a multifunctional master molecule that has a myriad of skincare benefits, including boosting the skin’s elasticity, reducing signs of sun damage, and softening fine lines and wrinkles for all skin types. “Niacinamide improves all types of skin issues from acne and pigmentation to signs of aging. It is a powerful antioxidant which is important for cellular repair, and fighting oxidative stress from environmental factors,” says Carole Hazan, M.D., dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and medical director at Aesthetic and Surgical Dermatology of NY. “As it works at a cellular level to strengthen the skin’s barrier, leaving it deeply hydrated, plumped, smoother, and brighter. Its anti-inflammatory properties work to regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce, preventing them from going into overdrive, which is what contributes to acne and breakouts.”
Meet the Experts
Do: Believe the Hype
Niacinamide has been gaining momentum for its skin-perfecting prowess for some time now. If the buzz in the scientific world credits a renewed focus on understanding the skin’s biome — how to delicately balance the vital microorganisms or bacteria that live on the skin — we have social media to thank for its fully-fledged arrival to the land of all things beauty and skincare. You only need to head over to TikTok and Instagram to see endless feeds by skincare experts, celebrity dermatologists and beauty influencers extolling its powers, singing its praise and educating on its efficiency as an ingredient beloved for its multi-tasking approach to skin repair, renewal and plumping.
Don’t: Believe the Myths
As with any new “miracle worker” that explodes onto the skincare scene, so come the myths. There are those that say niacinamide should not be combined with vitamin C or any other ingredients. (Spoiler: It’s not true; while niacinamide is powerful enough to replace some products in your arsenal, it works synergistically with all ingredients.) Then, there’s the misconception that it causes irritation, redness, purging, and dark spots. (Spoiler: Given its anti-inflammatory properties, niacinamide has proven to actually reduce redness, increase brightness, and actually treat breakouts and hyperpigmentation, as well as minimize pores.)
An Inside Job
As any beauty devotee will testify, you are what you eat and beauty does indeed work from the inside out, so it’s also worth noting that in addition to being a powerhouse when applied topically, you can also up your niacinamide take through food. “Vitamin B3 is an antioxidant, which helps repair skin health at a cellular level. It’s found in a variety of dietary sources like legumes, eggs, fortified cereal and bread, red meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, and bananas. It also works to help our body create more NAD +,” says holistic skincare expert and facialist Monica Watters of Sacred Touch in New York. NAD+ (scientific name: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is one of the body’s most abundant and crucial molecules, responsible for the healthy function of mitochondria, an organism in our cells that converts food to energy.
Not only does NAD+ give us vital nutrients, oxygen, and energy, but it also helps maintain our DNA integrity protecting our bodies against aging and disease. And while that might sound like an exercise in medical jargon, niacinamide is a celebrated anti-ager that repairs skin damage at a cellular level and increases the production of ceramides or lipids — fatty acids found in the skin cells that plump, hydrate, produce collagen, and strengthen the epidermis or surface of the skin. That means a smoother, firmer complexion with reduced signs of fine lines and wrinkles.
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