What niacinamide can do for your skin

The multitasking ingredient that protects & strengthens

Shopping for skincare is an intricately personal endeavor. Your skin is uniquely yours, and it may outright reject what another person’s drinks up. But if there was ever a universal people-pleaser of a skin care ingredient, it’s niacinamide. The easy-to-love ingredient seems to benefit almost everyone, across skin concerns and skin types. How does it work? We’ll explain.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 (also known as nicotinamide) and a major multitasker of a skincare ingredient. Found in all types of skincare products, the water-soluble vitamin provides antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and skin-strengthening benefits. 

What makes it so handy? It’s a precursor to a coenzyme called NAD+ that your cells need for renewal and repair 1, so it can do damage control and help your skin grow nice and healthy. 

What does niacinamide do for skin?

This jack-of-all-trades has many skills 2: fades hyperpigmentation, fights free radicals, strengthens the skin’s barrier function, calms inflammation, improves elasticity, softens fine lines and wrinkles3, and may help control oil production.4

Let’s dive deeper into just a few of these perks:

  • Fights free radicals: Here’s where niacinamide’s antioxidant properties come into play. Caused by UV rays, pollution, cigarette smoke, and more, free radicals are unstable compounds that can cause damage to the skin. They’re missing electrons and will try to nab them from other molecules in your skin, causing what’s known as oxidative stress. Left to their own devices, free radicals can damage healthy skin cells and cause premature signs of aging. But NAD+, courtesy of niacinamide, gives an extra electron to the free radicals to neutralize them before they can do their damage.
  • Fades hyperpigmentation: Besides contributing free radicals, UV rays also provoke melanin-producing cells in the skin called melanocytes, leading to concentrated clusters of excess pigment. Whether you have sun spots, melasma, or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, niacinamide can help reduce your dark spots by blocking pigment 5on its route from melanocytes to the upper layers of your skin. Spots of hyperpigmentation begin to fade when their regular supply of pigment is reduced.
  • Strengthens skin’s barrier function: It’s not only free radicals and UV rays that can damage your skin though. Your skin acts as a shield, keeping bacteria and environmental debris out of your body, and the skin’s moisture barrier is its first line of defense against irritants. Niacinamide helps bolster that barrier by increasing the amount of key lipids called ceramides6 in the skin’s outer layer. Ceramides improve moisture retention to help keep skin cells hydrated and plump, and better barrier function means less irritation from outside factors.

Who should use niacinamide? 

To vitamin B3 or not to B3—that is the question with an easy answer: go for it. Since niacinamide benefits such a wide range of skin concerns while going gentle on the skin, it suits all skin types and tones. Even if a quote-unquote “skin concern” doesn’t come to mind for you, niacinamide can help keep your skin healthy and functioning well.

Where can you get niacinamide?

Since it’s water-soluble and quite stable, niacinamide works in many different types of skincare products. You can easily find over-the-counter niacinamide serums focused on the all-purpose ingredient, but niacinamide plays especially well with other skincare ingredients. Formulated alongside other active ingredients, like in your personalized Agency Future Formula, niacinamide can really round out a skincare routine.

What are the side effects of niacinamide?

Since niacinamide is anti-inflammatory, the skin tends to react very minimally to it. Side effects are rare, but niacinamide can cause redness and irritation when used in very high concentrations—higher than you’re likely to encounter in topical skincare products applied as intended. In most cases, it actually helps soothe irritation.

Want to know more about your Future Formula?

You know your skin—we’re here to help you know your skincare. Our team of dermatology experts has helped create guides to each of the forward-thinking ingredients in your Future Formula. 

Learn how these ingredients also help your skin face the future: tretinoin, azelaic acid, tranexamic acid, dexpanthenol



1. Jamie Zussman, et al. Vitamins and Photoaging: Do Scientific Data Support Their Use?. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2010, March 1).

2. Jacquelyn Levin and Saira B. Momin. How Much Do We Really Know About Our Favorite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. (February 2010).

3. Donald L. Bisset, et al. Niacinamide: A B Vitamin That Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance. Dermatologic Surgery. (July 2005).

4. Zoe Diane Draelos, et al. The Effect of 2% Niacinamide on Facial Sebum Production. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy. (2006, March 20).

5. T. Hakozaki, et al.  The Effect Of Niacinamide on Reducing Cutaneous Pigmentation and Suppression of Melanosome Transfer. The British Journal of Dermatology. (July 2002).

6. O. Tanno, et al. Nicotinamide Increases Biosynthesis of Ceramides as Well as Other Stratum Corneum Lipids to Improve the Epidermal Permeability Barrier. The British Journal of Dermatology. (September 2000).