Niacinamide 101: Everything you need to know about this skincare do-it-all

Ever since trying the TIA’M My Signature Red Serum for the post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation story, I’ve been in awe of how much brighter my complexion became in just a week! While the product is marketed as a vitamin C serum, I think that the high niacinamide content was part of what made it so effective. Niacinamide is an ingredient becoming more popular among skincare enthusiasts, and for good reason. It offers a multitude of benefits like anti-aging and oil control, so if you’re looking to add an active to your routine, this rising superstar may be one to consider!

What is niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3 or nicotinamide, niacinamide is a water-soluble skincare ingredient that helps restore the skin’s condition and has a good number of other benefits. It is naturally found in the skin, and helps a lot of skin processes work better!

Studies have shown that niacinamide can help improve the appearance of skin tone and texture, control oil production, and can improve ageing skin. It also helps maintain the skin barrier by increasing ceramide production.

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How do you use it?

Because of its do-all nature, niacinamide can benefit anyone, from teenage skin, mature skin, and even sensitive skin. It is also safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding to use this. While chances for irritation is low, always do a patch test first to check for allergies.

Niacinamide can be used during daytime or nighttime. It is a stable ingredient even in the presence of heat and light, and this will not make your skin photosensitive. Its stability helps reduce the risk of irritation that may be caused by other ingredients, and you can use it any step of your skincare routine. To maximize its effects, you can incorporate niacinamide at a later stage in your routine since it works best in a relatively high pH level. Formulations with 2% to 10% niacinamide are said to be the most effective.

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Can I use vitamin C with niacinamide?

There are myths about how niacinamide and vitamin C cannot mix because they might cancel out each other’s good effects and cause skin redness. Unless you have extremely sensitive skin, combining these two is actually okay, and they may even boost each other’s efficacy! You can use both in the same product (such as the Red Serum), or layer them on top of the other.

Your skin may experience flushing, but this goes away after 20 minutes or so and will not cause any damage. If you’re not a fan of the flushed look, however, you can use separate products at alternate times.

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Which products should I try?

I personally enjoyed the TIA’M My Signature Red Serum (P995 at theskincarecurator.com) which has niacinamide as the fourth ingredient on the list. Fellow PV girls Claire and Stacie found the Purito Pure Vitamin C Serum (P850 at theskincarecurator.com) and Neogen Lightening Serum (P1,650 at theskincarecurator.com) to help with hyperpigmentation and for giving a brighter, more even-toned complexion. Both have niacinamide high up in their respective ingredients list as well.

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I’ll be mighty biased but I’ve also been loving the In Her Element Petal Skin Rose Toning Essence (P875 at inherelement.ph). It hydrates my skin and makes it feel soft and plump. The slightly gel-like texture also works well for my oily skin and is lightweight enough to apply in multiple layers.

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A popular option is the The Ordinary’s 10% Niacinamide (P750 at theskincarecurator.com). It’s supposed to be effective for oil control and has brightening properties. However, three of the PV girls (myself included) who’ve tried this out have not experienced anything remarkable about it but YMMV.

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Den regularly uses the CosRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence (name changed to Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence, P1,000 at theskincarecurator.com) as a first treatment essence to allow her skincare to absorb better. She doesn’t have hyperpigmentation so she can’t vouch for its brightening powers though. This lists niacinamide second in the ingredient list.

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If you want to dip your toes into the niacinamide pool without splurging too much, one easy way is to use sheet masks! The Mediheal IPI Lightmax Ampoule Mask EX (P149 at Watsons) contains sodium ascorbyl phosphate (a vitamin C derivative) and niacinamide to help brighten skin.

I’m a fan of the Dr. Morita Platinum Colloid & Black Pearl Extraction Moisturizing & Whitening Black Facial Mask (P74 at Watsons). The essence is very soothing and moisturizing but note that it may take a couple of masking sessions to see a skin brightening effect.

Have you incorporated niacinamide into your routine? Which products would you recommend?

Sources: Lab Muffin, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, Expert Review of Dermatology, Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, US National Library of Medicine, Paula’s Choice, Get the Gloss