Niacinamide: The Active You Can’t Live Without!

Niacinamide, the active you can’t live without!

First of all let me just start off by saying, I love love love niacinamide! But what is it and why is it so popular?

  1. Lots of research has shown that niacinamide can help to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes, congestion, hyper-pigmentation, and may even tighten wrinkles too.
  2. Also known as Vitamin B3, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is found to help lower sebum production in the skin, all great for acne-sufferers! 
  3. Yes, you CAN combine Vitamin B3 with Vitamin C! With Étymologie’s Probiotic Vitamin C Serum with oil-soluble THD Ascorbate, it loves oil so it is able to better penetrate the skin and will have less of a chance to react with your B3. 
  4. Niacinamide helps to enhance the skin barrier properties and also enable collagen production.
  5. It is a very powerful active ingredient that can be used in conjunction with many other products including Étymologie’s Total Hydration Serum.
Want to dive into the science? Read on for all the details: 

Nicotinamide, or niacinamide as it’s known in the cosmetic world, is also known as vitamin B3 and is a necessary cofactor that is vital to life. The physiological role niacinamide plays is well understood, as it is a necessary co-enzyme in many enzymatic reactions. These cofactors and their reduced forms (NADH and NADPH) are also antioxidants, and have signaling properties therefore it is possible that niacinamide can exhibit these effects on skin indirectly [1].

Previous research has shown niacinamide to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes, congestion, hyper-pigmentation, and may even tighten wrinkles too [2]. It is chemically stable, easily formulated, compatible with other formulation components and is extremely well tolerated to the skin. Other topical agents like tretinoin provide similar improvements; however at the expense of the moisture barrier which leads to sensitivity and redness. Niacinamide is a real superstar ingredient – when formulated as a 2% cream and used for 2 – 4 weeks, it was found to lower the sebum excretion rate and even has anti-inflammatory properties, all of which are wins for people who suffer with acne [3].

Before I move on, I think it’s important to dispel the myth, you cannot combine vitamin C with B3. That’s not exactly true as the studies that were done on pure L-ascorbic acid (Vit C) are over 40 years old. A more compatible combination could be Étymologie’s Probiotic Vitamin C Serum which features oil-soluble, and far more stable vit C derivative, tetrahexyldecyl (THD) ascorbate. Because of its oil loving nature, it is able to penetrate deeper into the skin, giving it less of a chance to react with niacinamide (if it even does at all), plus it is far more stable than Vit C! The reasoning behind this myth is that vit C reacts with niacinamide to form a yellow 1:1 complex of Vit B3:Vit C which renders it ineffective, but rather is likely the result of the formation niacinamide ascorbate [4]. I say likely because this combination has not been investigated.

There are a few theories of the mechanisms which niacinaimde uses to deliver the effects we see. Such as preventing Cutibacterium acnes-induced activation of toll-like receptor 2, which down-regulates pro-inflammatory interleukin-8 production [5]. Niacinamide increases both the lipid and protein stratum corneum components of the skin’s barrier and enhances the skin’s barrier properties. This can be seen by increased skin hydration and resistance to barrier damage from harsh surfactants. Niacinamide has also been indicated in increasing dermal matrix collagen production [6].

Now you know why niacinamide is the active you cannot live without – literally! It is a must have active that you need to add to your regime. Even for our mature readers, this active is a powerful addition, especially when used in conjunction with other anti-aging products like Étymologie’s Total Hydration Serum. Personally, I have seen great results with my own skin’s health while using a 10% Niacinamide serum. It did all that was promised!

By Jamie Stanton, A.Sc – Barber & Co Products @jamie_the_chemist


[1,6] Bissett, D. L., Miyamoto, K., Sun, P., Li, J., & Berge, C. A. (2004). Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin1. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 26(5), 231–238.

[2] Deciem. Clinical Formulations with Integrity: A DECIEM Brand. The Ordinary.

[3] Draelos, Z. D., Matsubara, A., &; Smiles, K. (2006). The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 8(2), 96–101.

[4] Niacinamide and Vitamin C. FutureDerm. (2019, August 16).

[5] Wikimedia Foundation. (2021, January 15). Nicotinamide. Wikipedia.