Niacinamide has been around for ages – years. But suddenly, hot on the heels of vitamin C, it is the new buzzy ingredient. To be honest, this can sometimes put me off. Skincare shouldn’t be about throwing the latest ingredient on to your face. Healthy skin isn’t a trend. It’s a long-term, sustainable goal, and while it’s often beneficial to tweak, upgrade and substitute, there’s a risk with today’s approach of confusing and overwhelming skin.
So given that it has been described as an all-round wonder ingredient, it’s probably a good idea to establish what the heck niacinamide is.
Firstly, it’s a water-soluble form of vitamin B3. In the correct quantities, it can visibly minimise enlarged pores, improve uneven skin texture, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and brighten skin – all without causing irritation.
‘I put it in low doses in so many of my products,’ says oculoplastic surgeon Dr Maryam Zamani, ‘because it’s effective without any side effects.’ Take that, retinol. Speaking of which, niacinamide can, like retinol, be useful in treating acne, with more gentleness, improving the skin’s ability to protect itself from external aggressors.
Last but not least, it can help with hyperpigmentation by blocking the accumulation of melanin on the skin’s surface to prevent darkening. So look out for it on those lists of ingredients.
‘And make sure it’s somewhere at the top of the list or it won’t do much,’ says Zamani. Whether it’s in your moisturiser, serum or as a stand-alone product, the bottom line is, it’s a good thing.