Experts On Why Niacinamide Serum Is A Skincare Hero

Few skincare ingredients have become as ubiquitous as niacinamide. From drugstore shelves to social feeds, niacinamide serums are everywhere, and their evangelists make a persuasive case for adding them to your skincare routine. Admittedly, I’ve never truly succumbed to the hype—with a history of skin troubles including acne and hyperpigmentation, I’ve developed a penchant for stronger stuff. Retinols, peels, acids, and peroxides: there are a few actives I haven’t tried to save my skin. But consulting the experts, I learned that by underestimating niacinamide, I may have overlooked the simplest savior of them all.

“Niacinamide is a very beneficial skincare ingredient for those who want a calm, even-toned, hydrated, and stronger skin barrier,” says Dr Simon Ourian. If I could trust any expert on the formula for healthy skin, it’s him: he tends to the skin of stars such as Kim Kardashian in his leading LA practice. Citing several studies, he adds that it’s “scientifically proven to be effective for treating a number of skin conditions”—including acne, rosacea, enlarged pores, and fine lines—and that it does so “without side effects.” In short, it’s a gentle but effective solution to some of the most stubborn skin concerns, which is reason enough to invest in a good niacinamide serum. Below is everything else you need to know.

What is niacinamide?

“Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3,” Saynor tells me, explaining that the vitamin is so valuable in skincare as it helps improve overall health and the appearance of skin texture. It is also a humectant (translation: it draws water into the skin) so supports hydration and a supple complexion.

What does niacinamide do for your skin?

When quizzed on the actual benefits of niacinamide, both experts share a veritable laundry list. Niacinamide soothes redness, reduces inflammation, and controls excess oil. Great for acne sufferers, it regulates sebum production in the skin, thereby minimizing enlarged pores, which Dr Ourian tells us results in smoother-looking skin. It’s equally effective for dark spots: Saynor says it inhibits the transfer of pigment to the epidermis which in turn reduces the appearance of hyperpigmentation for a more even skin tone. According to Saynor, “it also helps your skin produce ceramides, which are essential for maintaining a healthy barrier that keeps moisture in and irritants out,” with Dr Ourian confirming that this offers enhanced protection against environmental damage. As such, it’s a choice ingredient for those with eczema. And because it strengthens the skin barrier (and promotes collagen production to boot) it can minimize fine lines, too. While niacinamide’s hydrating effects are instant, don’t expect results on pigmentation or wrinkles overnight. “Consistency is key,” says Saynor, who recommends regular use over 8-12 weeks before you can expect to see results.

Is 10% niacinamide too much?

The ideal concentration of niacinamide in a serum depends on the skin concern you want to treat. “A five percent concentration of niacinamide is more than adequate and has been shown to be effective in hydrating, improving fine lines, and reducing hyperpigmentation over time.” Dr Ourian says. Elaborating, Kelly tells me that five percent is great for beginners or those with sensitive skin. For faster results, stepping up to 10% can be beneficial, especially if you are targeting particularly large pores and/or extensive hyperpigmentation. But Dr Ourian cautions against using percentages higher than 12% without an expert recommendation. “While they are safe and fine to go up to, there is the potential for irritation. As with everything, test niacinamide serum on a small area to assess your tolerance levels and gradually increase usage when your skin adjusts,” he advises.

Equipped with the facts, I realized I’d be foolish to not give niacinamide serums a try. Time to pat some on.

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