What is niacinamide in skincare?
Google searches for niacinamide (otherwise known as vitamin B3) have increased as many of us are looking to streamline our skincare routines and opt for multifunctional skincare. Niacinamide fits the bill. A daily dose helps reduce excess oil (potentially preventing breakouts), minimise the appearance of large pores, repair the skin's barrier to keep issues such as dryness and irritation at bay and reduce inflamed, red skin. Touted by skin experts as an ingredient that is well tolerated by sensitive skin, it can be used in the morning and in the evening, making it an easy all-rounder.
If you're a fan of The Ordinary, you'll know that the range already boasts a niacinamide product: Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, £5. Adored by influencers, beauty editors and facialists alike, the serum has rave reviews and is always selling out. So what makes the powder different? According to the brand, 100% Niacinamide Powder "offers the most direct topical exposure of niacinamide". In other words, you can personalise how much you use and it is very easily combined with other skincare products in your routine, such as serums and moisturisers. Even better, it's only £4.90.
How do you use The Ordinary's 100% Niacinamide Powder?
"The Ordinary’s 100% Niacinamide Powder can be mixed into any non-conflicting, water-based treatment," explains Prudvi Kaka, Deciem's chief scientific officer. When it comes to the choice of water-based product to mix with the formula, there are several options available. Prudvi suggests hyaluronic acid (namely serum Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, £5.90 or moisturiser Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA, £4.90). You could also use popular serum "Buffet" + Copper Peptides 1%, £28.90.
I'm a fan of the brand's niacinamide serum but as I regularly use retinol and acids in my evening routine to keep my acne-prone skin under control, applying niacinamide can sometimes make my skin feel tender. For that reason, I was drawn in by the option to control just how much niacinamide I could apply by switching to the powder.
The product comes with a small measuring spoon and the label instructs mixing a quarter of a spoonful with a water-based product. I opted for Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance, £23, as it's lightweight, oil-free, non-fragranced and doesn't clog my pores. I decanted a little powder and two pumps of moisturiser into the palm of my hand and mixed them together with my fingertips. To my surprise, the powder dissolved immediately and I was able to apply the product all over. My skin felt moisturised and matte to the touch. I didn't spot a single white trace, there was no gritty feel and I didn't make a mess.
What are the skincare benefits of niacinamide?
I've only been using the niacinamide powder for 10 days but it has made such a positive difference to my hormonal, excessively oily, acne-prone skin. So much so, I now use it in both the morning and evening. My AM skincare routine is as follows: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, £9.50, Revolution 2% Salicylic Acid Tonic, £10, The Ordinary 100% Niacinamide Powder, £4.90 with Glossier Priming Moisturizer Balance, £23, and SPF 50 if I'm going outside or working by a window. I've noticed that my T-zone is less of an oil slick come 3pm and I have fewer blackheads.
In the evening, I cleanse with Vichy Normaderm Phytosolution Volcanic Mattifying Cleanser, £16.50, apply Laura Mercier Illuminating Eye Cream, £50, and use SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.3, £65. On alternate evenings, I combine the niacinamide powder with my Glossier moisturiser to give my skin a break from retinol. Usually I wake up with oily skin and some very small whiteheads but I've noticed they are now few and far between, and I attribute this to my new routine.
Does niacinamide conflict with any skincare ingredients?
While I've got my skincare regime nailed, there are some ingredients niacinamide doesn't pair well with. "We do not recommend combining 100% Niacinamide Powder with vitamin C, and vitamin C derivatives," says Prudvi. This is because niacinamide has the potential to affect how well vitamin C works. "When combined, this also may cause a chemical discolouration of the product," adds Prudvi, "which increases chances of developing facial flushing," aka redness. If you want to use both products, alternate between them, advises Prudvi. For example, apply a vitamin C serum one morning (followed by SPF) and niacinamide mixed with a plain, water-based moisturiser the next.
Overall, my skin certainly looks and feels better thanks to a daily application of niacinamide, and I've found that I respond much better to the powdered version than the liquid serum. I also think skincare should be enjoyable as well as effective, and those few seconds playing chemist and mixing together the ingredients is more fun than faff.
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