What does it do?
Improves skin barrier function and hydration
Fades hyperpigmentation
Decreases oil production
Increases collagen production
Protects against UV damage

What’s it used for?
Acne, rosacea and sensitive skin
Uneven skin tone and hyperpigmentation
Fine lines and wrinkles
Oily skin and enlarged pores

How do I use it?
Apply once or twice daily, before moisturiser and sunscreen

Key benefits
Great multi-tasker
Low potential for irritation
Safe in pregnancy

Ideal concentration
2 – 10%

Evidence rating

The ‘B’ of the ABCs of skincare, niacinamide or vitamin B3 is one of the skincare essentials. Non-irritating and with a myriad of benefits, almost everyone could be using it. Here’s why. 

What is it, and what does it do?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, and is a powerful antioxidant. It helps to improve skin barrier function and skin hydration and reduces inflammation, so is great for those with dry and sensitive skin. It reduces oil production and may reduce pore size. It increases collagen production, and helps to protect the skin against UV damage. It also helps reduce the irritation which can occur from using topical retinoids.

Why should I use it? 

Niacinamide is very well tolerated by most skin types and has numerous benefits. Because it helps improve the skin barrier and is anti-inflammatory, it’s useful if you have sensitive skin and/or rosacea. It helps reduce oil production and pore size so is useful for those with oily, acne-prone skin. It helps even out skin tone and fade hyperpigmentation. It also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and protects the skin from UV damage, so is a good anti-ageing tool as well. It’s safe to use in pregnancy.

How should I use it?

Niacinamide can be applied once or twice daily, before moisturiser and sunscreen. It’s available in different formulations including serums and creams either alone or in combination with other ingredients, and some moisturisers and sunscreens contain it as an added ingredient. It works well with most other ingredients. Niacinamide has the added benefit of reducing irritation which can occur when using a topical retinoid. You could look for a product which contains both a retinoid and niacinamide, or apply niacinamide before you apply your retinoid.

Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol Surg. 2005 Jul;31(7 Pt 2):860-5; discussion 865.

Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J, Chhoa M, Matsubara A, Miyamoto K, Greatens A, Hillebrand GG, Bissett DL, Boissy RE. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Br J Dermatol. 2002 Jul;147(1):20-31. 

Levin J, Momin SB. How much do we really know about our favorite cosmeceutical ingredients?. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010;3(2):22-41.


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Spotlight on Skin was created by award-winning Melbourne-based dermatologist, Dr Julia Rhodes.

Julia knows first-hand how overwhelming the skincare world can be, and that’s with over 10 years of experience practicing dermatology. Given that even she gets overwhelmed, she appreciates how hard it can be for those of you without a scientific background to make sense of all the information available, and choose products that are right for your skin…