Sunday 10 January 2021

Ingredients A-Z: N is for Niacinamide

**********This post contains both gifted and non-gifted items. Gifted mentions may be present. All links used are affiliate.********** 

The unsung hero of the skincare world is finally making waves in the skinfluencer community and brands are listening. Adding Niacinamide to your skincare routine is no brainer, here’s why.

Intro to Niacinamide.

Niacinamide stands out even amongst the best like Retinol because of its versatility. It’s not only beneficial to every skin type and most conditions but also comes with little to no side effects.

As a powerful antioxidant, it’s there to help prevent environmental damage and help brighten the dull complexion, but comes with no warnings and is very stable in most formulations, unlike Vitamin C for example. Sadly, a lot of people who may want to use Vitamin C since it’s awesome but can’t due to potential irritation. Sensitive and sensitised skin alike should have no issues with Niacinamide which can safely replace Vitamin C in your routine but offers even more benefits.

Skin benefits of Niacinamide.

Also knows as vitamin B3 and/or Nicotinamide, Niacinamide is water-soluble and works alongside our skin to visibly minimise and tighten enlarged pores, improve tone and texture, brighten, soften lines and wrinkles as well as strengthen skin’s natural barrier thanks to its calming properties. Isn’t it just the one-step ingredient powerhouse we’ve all been lusting after?

If redness and rosacea are 'your thing', something you’re struggling with, Niacinamide can help. Consistency is key, so add Niacinamide to your morning and/or evening routine and stick to it daily. As Niacinamide reduces inflammation, it may help ease redness from rosacea, eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions. As with anything, you may be allergic to literally anything in the world so if you’re experiencing a bad reaction, stop using the product and try and figure out what caused it. Whilst Niacinamide is considered one of the safest ingredients out there, some formulations and strengths can cause irritation. In most cases this is mainly due to the way product has been formulated than fault with the ingredient itself, but better to be safe than sorry, especially if you already suffer from overly sensitised skin.

What Niacinamide does to the pores should be classed as nothing short of magic. After a while, you’ll notice a huge improvement in the visibility of the pores. You can’t make pore smaller, but you can tighten them to make them appear smaller and that is what Niacinamide does best. No, it won’t give you instant results but stick to it for a couple of months and you won’t be disappointed.

Thanks to its brightening properties, it’s also a fabulous ingredient to help anyone fighting the never-ending battle with uneven tone. Niacinamide can also help reduce texture which is always a plus if you ask me. And using it alongside a good BHA agent may just be the best hack I can ever share with you.

Tired of acne lesions? Want to rid your skin of post-breakouts scarring while optimising sebum production? Look no further than Niacinamide. What did I tell you? It does it all. 

But what about that lipid barrier?

After years and years of over-exfoliation we’ve all done, and listening to brands telling us to use their acidic products day and night, almost everyone I encounter has been trying to scale it back a little and to some wonderful results, may I add. Niacinamide can help you here too. Vitamin B3 is proven to assist the building of proteins (keratin and others) responsible for reinforcing of skin’s lipid (moisture barrier). The healthy skin barrier is incredibly important and your skin will never look better than when your barrier damage is kept at a minimum. That means hydrated, less irritated and happy skin all day every day. That’s where the real and sustainable glow comes from!

Are all Niacinamide products the same?

Sadly, no. I’ve tried a few 10% Niacinamide formulations and not all gave me the results I wanted. It’s not always about percentage, or pH of the product, or anything else you can sort of find out from the INCI or the product description. The formulation is key and some nuances are simply impossible to read from the information we, as customers, have available. You can become the most avid ingredients list reader or even an amateur expert but it’s important to understand that all formulations differ and the formulas (exact percentages used or the way they are combined) are always hidden from the public so they can’t be replicated by other brands. Sure it’s important to learn your skin and what works for it, but don’t treat INCI alone in decision making here, as some formulations that look like they’ll never work on paper, may end up surprising you and vice versa. 

I’ve tried many products with Niacinamide in recent years and one that truly stood out to me is Medik8 Clarity Peptides - a wonderful glow-tastic serum that so powerful yet gentle on the old redness stricken face of mine. The fantastic formula consists of 10% Niacinamide, Crystalide Peptide, Hyaluronic Acid and Zinc PCA to name just a few. If you're on a lookout for a true luminosity, while caring for the health of your pores - look no further. It is by far the most powerful Niacinamide-based serum I've tried while maintaining ultra-light and fast-absorbing formula that sinks in immediately leaving skin healthy and glowing. It helped me rid of deeply rooted blackheads and helped strengthen against stressors. Using it is a pure pleasure too. There's no peeling, no irritation just results. Available from Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Medik8, Look Fantastic and Space NK.

Others to consider:

The Inkey List Niacinamide* is an affordable great all-rounder serum featuring 10% Niacinamide alongside other hydrating and soothing ingredients. It sinks in well and starts showing results relatively quickly. It doesn’t pile up or isn’t tacky like its The Ordinary predecessor. If I were to choose between Inkey and TO - there’s no question, I would always go Inkey. Available from BootsCult BeautyLook Fantastic and The Inkey List.

Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster (buy from Cult Beauty, Feel Unique, Paula's Choice UK and Space NK) appears to be a fan favourite and whilst I’ve not tried it myself, it’s the one I plan on trying next when I finish Clarity Peptides to compare the results. There’s a new version in town, featuring 20% strength, but I’ve heard mixed reviews with some calling it an ugly sister to its 10% formula which simply proves that higher concentration isn’t always required as tests are usually done on the most optimal strength for driving results, and I believe that may actually be 10% for Niacinamide. Let’s not forget about the 100% Niacinamide powder recently launched by The Ordinary but as tests show there is simply no need for such high concentration. Jasmine has written a much more eloquent response to the strength dispute if you’d like a second opinion. 

Face Theory PoreBright Serum N10 is another one on the mighty long to try list. I’m yet to encounter anything by the brand that disappointed me in any way. The very underrated brand with fabulous offers at all times. INF184 will get you 20% off always. It’s my code but not affiliated, and whilst I have been gifted some Face Theory products in the past I’ve also been buying the brand on my own. Oh and if you’re looking at their website right now - their Azelaic Acid serum has been my firm fave - great if you’re battling redness.

I’ve tried a couple of Niacinamide toners, and I must admit, anything below 10% strength within balanced formulation just doesn’t cut it for me. Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner is a lovely toner. It’s alcohol-free so non-drying and gentle enough to be used twice daily. But to say that it did anything other than standard hydrating toner, I just don’t see it. It doesn’t even truly stands out as a hydrating toner. There are betters out there. Check out Isntree Green Tea Toner* for example for its soothing and hydrating properties. Good Molecules toner alongside The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% may be my least favourite Vitamin B3 products. There’s nothing wrong with them per se, but there are better out there.

How to layer.

Niacinamide is such an easy ingredient to introduce into your routine, however basic or complex it may be. Out of all ingredients out there, Niacinamide tends to get along with most, even potent actives. Think acids, retinol, vitamin C for example - you can stick in Niacinamide there too without risking irritation. In fact, Niacinamide may also boost the results of other actives in your routine as well as prevent irritation. Easy peasy.

Niacinamide is also that ingredient that can be layered with different formulations with Niacinamide in a single routine. My skin really can’t get enough.


It’s important to understand how Niacinamide works to truly appreciate the power behind the ingredient. You will not see immediate results, sure some formulations will act in a way where some imminent benefits are visible, but that’s not what Niacinamide is all about. It’s a journey, not a destination. To unlock its true potential you need a few long weeks, months even and they will come slowly so you may never get that wow effect until you look closer as to why you started to begin with. For me, it was 3 deep blackheads on my cheeks. Sounds silly? Trust me I know, but ever since having facials and unsuccessful extractions, I’ve been super annoyed at seeing those 3 black spots I could never get rid off. I tried Salicylic Acid alone for months and while it rid me of most problems, it never worked on those 3 little imperfections. That is until I introduced Medik8 Clarity Peptides into my routine. And no it didn’t work overnight, it didn’t work in 2-4 weeks either and only when I stopped obsessing over them and checked my cheeks after 6 weeks or so, they were gone. Blackheads that have been there for 3 years that nothing has ever worked on - gone, bye Felicia! And that’s another beauty of Niacinamide since it can be used alongside most actives without damaging skin’s lipid barrier, you can safely combine it with others to boost their benefits. It’s magic.

Thank You For Reading.

With love,

Full disclaimer:

In line with an updated CMA/ASA Non-broadcast Code, if gifted products are present, the disclaimer at the top of the post will be specific if all or some products have been sent for review consideration. In the instance there's a need to differentiate between PR and non PR, all products marked with * have been gifted to Beauty Drama Queen for review consideration, therefore are considered sponsored and displayed as a form of an unpaid advertisement.

All articles sponsored by a brand, a retailer or via a PR agency where specific product placement has been paid for on top of product gifting will be clearly branded as AD.

Products I've bought myself, but there's a current or past (up to 12 months) relationship with the brand present will be marked with **.

Products unmarked have been purchased by Beauty Drama Queen, gifted by family and friends or won in a giveaway and therefore not in the scope of the legislation.

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