When selecting niacinamide products, Dr Ho advises that “a concentration of 4-5% niacinamide is ideal—enough to improve acne and fine wrinkles”. Higher concentrations, like The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide + 1% Zinc, have not yet been proven to exhibit a higher rate of efficacy.
If you have sensitive skin, you may want to start with a lower concentration. Formulas with 2 percent niacinamide may help ease symptoms of eczema and similar conditions. Niacinamide may be listed as “niacin” and “nicotinamide” on product labels.
When used in high concentrations, niacinamide can cause skin irritation and redness. If you happen to be in the unlucky minority who have a bad reaction to a product with niacinamide, there are three primary possibilities: you're allergic, there's another ingredient causing irritation, or you're using too much.
Niacinamide is possibly safe when taken in doses up to 900 mg daily. It might cause side effects such as stomach upset, gas, dizziness, headache, and rash. When applied to the skin: Niacinamide is possibly safe. Niacinamide cream might cause mild burning, itching, or redness.
Summary – Does Niacinamide Cause Purging? Niacinamide doesn't increase skin cell turnover which means that it shouldn't cause 'purging'. However, it may cause breakouts.
“When used topically, niacinamide can improve skin hydration by preventing evaporation of moisture from the skin into the environment. It's also a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient, so it's great for calming irritated skin but also good for people with sensitive skin,” says Nazarian.
"Niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient because it is safe for all skin types, even aging, dry, and sensitive skin," she said.
Some people do report irritation, dryness, and redness when using a high concentration of niacinamide (around 10 percent). Switching to a lower potency (around 4 or 5 percent) may be easier on your skin.
If you're looking to add niacinamide into your skincare regimen, keep potency in mind. Dr. Li explains that "the scientific literature suggests 5% as optimal for achieving desired effects" and she goes further to caution that higher concentrations may cause skin irritation.
If a person's concerns are mostly around enlarged pores and uneven skin tone, the 10% strength is a great option. For those with more advanced concerns such as sagging pores, orange peel-like texture or oil-related bumps, the 20% strength is preferred.
Used topically, niacinamide is extremely safe. The only noted side effects of topical niacinamide are mild itching, redness and burning. These are rare and often go away over time as your skin becomes more accustomed to the substance. Some niacinamide users experience persistent redness.
And luckily, using niacinamide in the morning doesn't pose an increased UV risk. Unlike some other popular active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and retinol, "niacinamide is photo-protectant, so it is not considered a product that may cause photosensitivity," Dr. Allenby explains.
Niacin makes your skin flush and tingle, but it's mostly just an annoyance. There's been some talk of niacinamide not interacting well with vitamin C, but most likely this is only relevant for products where the two are stored together for a long time, rather than when you mix them on your skin for less than a day.
Don't Mix: Niacinamide and vitamin C. Although they're both antioxidants, vitamin C is one ingredient that's not compatible with niacinamide. "Both are very common antioxidants used in a variety of skincare products, but they should not be used one right after the other," says Dr. Marchbein.
You can apply 2–3 drops morning and/or evening to your face (including around the eyes) and neck after cleansing, toning, and exfoliating, and follow with your serum and moisturizer. Alternatively, you can add a few drops to your moisturizer or any other Paula's Choice targeted solution or booster you're using.
Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
The Ordinary niacinamide products are an excellent choice to help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation, blemishes, and acne. These niacinamide skin care products are especially helpful for aging, oily, and acne-prone skin.
Notes: While Niacinamide and Zinc PCA reduce the look of blemishes and balance visible sebum activity, neither is a treatment for acne. For persistent acne-related conditions, we recommend the use of Benzoyl Peroxide and/or Retinoic Acid.
As it's well tolerated by most people, niacinamide can be used twice a day everyday. It works at any time of the year although it comes in particularly handy in winter during cold, dry weather and frequent use of central heating. Use it in the run-up before starting your retinol treatment and alongside it, too.
When applied on the skin, niacinamide cream might cause mild burning, itching, or redness. When doses of over 3 grams per day of niacinamide are taken, more serious side effects can happen.
4 tips for when niacinamide fails
Signs it's not working: You're not seeing results and you notice the product is pilling on your skin. Also, if you experience redness, itching, or burning, you might want to skip this ingredient.
Any skin type and age can benefit from using niacinamide in their skincare routine. Ideally you should use it twice a day, both morning and evening. For the most beneficial results, opt for formulas (like serums and moisturisers) that can be left on the skin for maximum absorption.
While some niacinamide-containing products start to show initial benefits in two weeks, most results will show in four weeks or more. "You have to remember that it doesn't take two days for spots to form so you can't expect them to be removed in two days either," explains Engelman.
"Research has shown niacinamide can interrupt the terrible inflammation UV light causes in the skin, so using a niacinamide booster under your sunscreen is a great way to protect and repair."