SKIN | What the hell is niacinamide?

skincare products with niacinamide

Niacinamide is a true hero ingredient, but I held off on writing about it because I wanted to get my hands on the hero niacinamide product: Cerave PM. Cerave is a drugstore skincare brand from the US, and quite difficult to get in New Zealand. I had a promising connection with their PR until it became apparent shipping internationally would be too much of a challenge (story of my life). Anyway, eventually I found a reputable seller on eBay who didn’t have offensively expensive shipping, and here we are!

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, or nicotinamide, is the amide of Vitamin B3, or nicotinic acid. (For all intents and purposes they’re the same, and often you’ll see niacinamide referred to as B3.)

It’s one of the few skincare ingredients that are really, really, unarguably, effective. It’s also in those horrid 5-Hour Energy shots. You could think of it as a 5-Hour Energy shot for your skin, but one that works for longer than five hours and doesn’t give you caffeine shakes.

What does niacinamide do for your skin?

Niacinamide can improve skin elasticity, fade discolouration (like post-acne hyperpigmentation or sun spots), improve the texture of your skin, reduce fine lines, and help keep it juicy and hydrated. So the question really is, what does niacinamide not do for your skin?

Niacinamide is a cell-communicating ingredient, which by now you should know means it’s found naturally in the skin and can help restore and repair skin cells, and promote collagen production. It stimulates microcirculation in the dermis, making sure your skin cells have everything they need, and enhances your skin’s barrier function, protecting it from external damage (although it’s important to note that it gives no sunscreen benefits).

What skin type is it good for?

All skin types! Niacinamide can help prevent trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), or keep moisture in your skin, so it can help hydrate dry skin. It also regulates the production of sebum, making it useful for balancing out oily and acneic skin types. Niacinamide might help reduce closed comedones and acne vulgaris. It also fades pigmentation left behind from acne and pimples, so it’s a good follow-up ingredient to look for if you’ve recently come off Accutane or something similar.

All signs also point to niacinamide being a fantastic ingredient to use on aging skin.

Why else should I get excited about niacinamide?

Unlike virtually every other active ingredient in skincare, niacinamide is stable in heat and light, so you can go crazy buying it in clear containers and then leave them in the direct sunlight forever and it’ll still work. (Probably don’t do that, though.)

Niacinamide is particularly well-tolerated by the skin, which means that most people can use it without risk of irritation, even if you find your skin is sensitive to retinol or acids. It also plays nicely with retinol, so if you’re already using a retinol product in your skincare routine and like it, you can keep it up.

Anything else I need to know?

There’s mixed information about whether you can use niacinamide at the same time as Vitamin C, so probably separate them and use one at night and the other in the morning, if you want to keep both in your routine.

Skincare with niacinamide

Cerave PM Facial Moisturising Lotion, ~$15 NZD

cerave pm lotion with niacinamide

So… I thought CeraVe was hard to get in New Zealand but I just googled it just now and found out it’s on iHerb?? That has to be a very recent development. Buy it from iHerb instead of eBay like I did.

Anyway. CeraVe PM is a lightweight lotion with lots of niacinamide as well as ceramides, and it’s oil-free. It’s meant to soothe redness and obviously do all the other things niacinamide does. I’ve been powering through my bottle and I love it!

Olay Regenerist Revitalising Night Cream, $40.99 NZD

olay regenerist with niacinamide

Pretty much everything from Olay has niacinamide in it, especially the Regenerist range, and the brand have carried out a lot of research on the ingredient. This night cream has been hanging around for a while but I do like it and often return to it. There are some particularly affordable serums and the like in the range—basically, my recommendation would be that if you’re prepared to spend $$ on anti-aging skincare, look to Olay first.

The Body Shop Drops Of Youth Eye Concentrate*, $61.50 NZDthe body shop eye cream with niacinamide

The Body Shop is a brand with a big focus on being natural and environmentally friendly, but it’s not at the expense of functionality. Their skincare ranges focus on different concerns and the Drops of Youth one is, obviously, all about anti-aging. While most eye creams might just be expensive moisturisers, the Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate has a good balance of active ingredients including niacinamide. It also has a metal rollerball applicator which makes it feel extra effective in the morning.

Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation, $25.59 NZDrevlon nearly naked foundation with niacinamide

Lastly, this weirdly-lit photo of the Revlon Nearly Naked foundation might seem like it’s out of place, but believe it or not, this foundation contains niacinamide. Why, I’m not sure—but I’m not complaining too much, as this Procter and Gamble funded study suggests it’s beneficial to wearers with sensitive skin. There’s no reason why you can’t have skincare ingredients in your foundation too, I guess!

This is all incidental to the fact that Nearly Naked is just a really nice foundation and I am really hoping that the fact I can’t find it on the Farmers website doesn’t mean it has been discontinued…

Some products I haven’t tried but are probably great

skincare with niacinamide available in new zealand

Skin Inc Vitamin B3+ Serum, $83 NZD

Dr Jart Brightening Solution Sheet Masks x5, $43 NZD

First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Oil Free Mattifying Gel Moisturiser, $62 NZD

Simple Micellar Water, $12 NZD

Dermalogica Age Renewal Eye Complex*, $113 NZD

I took a quick look through and at other brands I know are available in New Zealand because I like to be able to make recommendations that you guys can easily access. These products all look great, and contain niacinamide. I’ll be adding them to my own list, especially the First Aid Beauty moisturiser! (I’ve actually got the Dermalogica eye cream but haven’t had it long enough to write a fair review.)

Have you heard of niacinamide? Do you look for it on ingredients lists?


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  • Lucie_EB

    Yay, my favourite type of posts! Thank you for another brilliant in-depth post <3

    • Thanks Lucie – you’re welcome! x

  • convolutin’

    Oh I didn’t know that the Olay Regenerist line had niacinamide! It’s been on my list for my next skincare purchase so maybe I’ll have a look at those. I buy a lot of my skincare on iHerb because the range and prices are really affordable. I also really like that Nearly Naked foundation so I hope it’s not discontinued!

    • I really like everything in the Regenerist line that I’ve tried – definitely worth a look!

  • Pania Brown

    Hi Morgan — I bought CeraVe PM facial Moisturising lotion on your recommendation above — LOVE it — thanks so much — keep up the great work

    • Hey Pania, that’s so awesome to hear! I’m so glad I could help 🙂

  • Yes I’ve seen people talking about it! It looks really good, I love the concept.