A skincare ingredient for everyone that has been criminally undervalued
Much like life itself, skincare is the pursuit of happiness. We strive for a routine that makes gazing into the mirror a private joy and #nomakeupselfie after #nomakeupselfie a public addiction. But even when we think we’ve found a family of skincare ingredients that will be forever faithful to us, we might not be quite there yet. This, of course, only results in frustration. Despondent, we consider aborting the mission entirely in favour of dragging a single cleansing wipe across our face and hoping for the best – luckily the pack dries out before they do the same to our skin. Sometimes – if not often – the most gently omnipotent forces for happiness coexist silently with the pomp of their more conspicuous counterparts. In the world of skincare, that gently omnipotent force is niacinamide. It has, as some may say, been ‘slept on’ – never again.
There are many different types of active ingredients that can be found in skincare. Understandably – since our skin requires the same care as any other organ – some of these are vitamins. We assume you’re familiar with vitamin A (what retinol is derived from) and vitamin C (the brightening one that always seems to be in orange packaging). Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. Ingested orally (think yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans and cereal grains), niacinamide is needed for the proper function of the digestive system and to maintain healthy cells. Its topical application via skincare, however, is where it really shines as a multitasker.
A 2019 study conducted in Korea (a country where natives have an unrivalled reputation for fastidious skincare routines) found that “niacinamide protects skin cells from oxidative stress induced by particulate matter”. Put in simpler terms, this means that niacinamide protects skin cells from the unavoidable pollution that mars skin as we traipse the planet. Ultimately, niacinamide improves the skin barrier function: it doesn’t just abruptly refuse entry to pollution without also making an esteemed guest of things like moisture. But it doesn't only protect skin cells, it renews them too. With that property it can slow skin ageing and promote just the level of plumpness you need to cling onto your youth membership for an extended period.
Yes, actually. Another capability of niacinamide is that it regulates oil secretion. Additionally, it’s what helps to soothe the appearance of redness in Vichy’s Normaderm Anti-Spot Sulphur Paste. For Nassim Hamek – Typology’s product manager – “its potent anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects” are what also make niacinamide a lethal weapon against acne.
VICHY Normaderm Anti-Spot Sulphur Paste, £16.99 AT SUPERDRUG
Yes, you too. As previously mentioned, a fortified skin barrier – such as the one niacinamide is so excellent at maintaining – keeps moisture locked in. But that’s not the sole way niacinamide can help those with your skin type. Typology's 7% Niacinamide Soothing Toner rebalances the skin's pH after cleansing so that the dry patches associated with an imbalanced pH can be avoided. And, just as the niacinamide in Vichy’s Normaderm Anti-Spot Sulphur Paste soothes the redness and irritation of a spot, Typology’s toner soothes the redness and irritation of dry skin. How? “Microcirculation” – yet another thing niacinamide promotes, as Nassim informs us.
We’ve all heard fearsome anecdotes about retinol leaving its users with the sacrilege of a sunburnt face because they failed to use it in conjunction with SPF. But just because products associated with vitamin A can be brutes, that’s not to say vitamin B3 also aspires to rule with fear. Niacinamide is a gentle molecule – lovely, even. However, Nassim tells us “some say that you shouldn't use it in conjunction with Vitamin C products, as the combination could make both molecules less effective.” “There have been no formal scientific studies to support the claim,” he adds. So there.
Because “it is not photosensitive, you can incorporate it in both your morning and night routine,” says Nassim. Niacinamide is in a lot of skincare products (Bioderma even make a micellar water featuring it), but it’s obviously most effective when applied directly to the skin and left to penetrate. To that end, we recommend The Inkey List’s Niacinamide (10% niacinamide, 1% hyaluronic acid, 89% angel).