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Ask acclaimed New York dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross to nominate his ingredient mainstays—the actives you can’t do without for crystal-clear, picture-perfect skin—and he doesn’t miss a beat: alpha and beta hydroxy acids, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, retinol and niacinamide. “In addition to sunscreen, these are the ingredients everyone should look to use,” he says. While we’re all familiar with the game-changers on his list, it’s the fifth outlier that is still shrouded in mystery. Nia-what?
Turns out niacinamide, aka vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient with multiple benefits for your complexion. First and foremost it strengthens the lipid barrier, the uppermost layer of your skin that weakens with age, by kickstarting the production of ceramides—the fats that protect skin and help it retain moisture. This regenerative process aids with counteracting dullness, dryness and general blahness. Verso founder Lars Fredriksson is a big exponent of niacinamide “because of its ability to enhance, repair and build up the skin barrier,” he says. “If you have a healthy skin barrier, you should have healthy, hydrated skin.”
Beyond its barrier-replenishing powers, niacinamide is also an anti-inflammatory that helps alleviate moderate acne, reduce pore size and regulate oil production. If you’re prone to redness, it can also be an arrow in your quiver. “It’s a wonderful topical for irritation,” says Dr. Maryam Zamani, founder of MZ Skin. Zamani added it to her Hydra-Lift Golden Facial Treatment Mask for this reason. “And it’s really great for lots of different skin types, including sensitive ones,” she adds. The water-soluble vitamin is such a winning ingredient that it’s utilised in various categories. Here are a few different ways to drink it up.
The easiest way to reap the benefits of niacinamide is through a targeted serum. Verso’s Hydration Serum is a powerhouse that delivers both immediate and long-term moisture by strengthening the skin barrier and smoothing out dry complexions. Niacinamide pairs well with other active ingredients too. It’s married with brightening vitamin C in Summer Fridays’ CC Me Serum, as well as in Kate Somerville’s Mega-C Dual Radiance Serum, with retexturising glycolic acid in Malin+Goetz’s AHA Treatment Solution, and with regenerating herbs in bareMinerals’ Skinlongevity Vital Power Infusion. If you’re waging a two-front war against blemishes and wrinkles, Dermalogica’s Age Bright Clearing Serum might be the answer to your dilemma. It combines exfoliating salicylic acid with the skin-clearing wonder to tackle spots and lines.
Niacinamide is so well tolerated that you can layer it in numerous products. A moisturiser with a high concentration of the ingredient is Verso’s Nourishing Cream. By increasing lipid production, it smooths your complexion, soothes redness and softens fine lines. It’s ideal for dry skin and for long-haul travel. If you want to kick your skin rejuvenation into a higher gear, the brand’s Day Cream blends niacinamide with collagen-boosting retinol. Use it for long enough and you will do a double take at your reflection. C+ Collagen Deep Cream by Dr. Dennis Gross, meanwhile, mixes illuminating ingredients like vitamin C and amino acids with recharging niacinamide. The results are plain to see: firmer, dewier, plumper skin. Finally, those with sensitive skin might appreciate this mushroom-infused formula from Origins that relieves redness.
With its fortifying capabilities, niacinamide can be helpful in restoring the delicate skin around the eyes. Mecca Cosmetica’s Hydrating Eye Cream taps the ingredient to hydrate and replenish the optical area in preparation for concealer. Tatcha’s The Pearl Tinted Eye Illuminating Treatment goes a step further by adding in pearl pigments that camouflage (and counter) fine lines, blue undertones and pigmentation. As its name suggests, Apot.Care’s new Hyalu B3 Correcting Eye Jelly fuses hyaluronic acid with niacinamide to lock in moisture and improve skin elasticity. Similarly, this avocado eye mask from Glow Recipe packs a punch with encapsulated retinol and niacinamide teaming up together to foster bright eyes.
To quench dry skin, consider a vitamin B3-fuelled mask. Drunk Elephant’s new F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial is just the antidote for a dehydrated complexion. This overnight mask is animated by a cocktail of moisturising elements that infuse the skin with dewiness. You could even layer it over Virgin Marula Oil for heightened hydration. Origins has another overnight mask, this one powered by glacier water and avocado. If fast-acting sheet masks are more your speed, try Go To’s Transformazing, which works its magic in 10 minutes. Similarly, Knesko uses the reviving active in its gold lip mask. Your lips will be sealed—with moisture. If you’re wearing a matte colour, the mask is the perfect prep step.
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