Is Niacinamide Good for Acne Free Skin?

by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM, May 04, 2020

is niacinamide good for acne

A lot of people are looking for safe and natural treatments so is niacinamide good for acne. One that has been thrust to the limelight is Vitamin B3. It has two types, namely Niacin (Nicotinic Acid) and Niacinamide (Nicotinamide), both of which may be beneficial to the skin. According to experts, these substances can help control acne – among many other skin issues.  

is niacinamide good for acne

Niacin and Niacinamide: What are They? 

As has been mentioned, Niacin and Niacinamide are forms of Vitamin B3. While the latter is mostly used by the body, the former can also be converted into Niacinamide by the intestinal bacteria. 

Whether you take niacin or niacinamide, know that the body can transform any of them into the following: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+). 

While their names are very scientific, the important thing about these substances is that they are important to your cells – specifically your skin cells. They are vital for the growth, propagation, and repair of these cells. Because the body can’t make niacinamide, a lack of the said vitamin can direly affect normal cell function. 

is niacinamide good for acne

Niacin and Niacinamide for the Skin 

So why are niacin and niacinamide important? For one, they can help keep your skin cells safe from free radical damage.

According to Dr. John G. Zampella, Niacin and Niacinamide can help the body make the NAD+ that it needs. This NAD+ is what the cells need to combat free radicals. These unstable molecules – which come from pollution, UV exposure, smoking, alcohol, and poor nutrition – can damage the skin cells. In fact, free radical activity is one of the reasons behind premature skin aging, among many other skin problems. 

Is niacinamide good for acne? Niacinamide (and the niacin that transforms into Niacinamide) can also help boost the production of ceramides. These are lipid molecules that make up as much as 50% of the skin. Despite the availability of ceramides on the skin, they can be depleted with aging and excessive sun exposure. When this happens, the skin can become dry and rough. Consequently, a lack of ceramides can lead to irritation, redness, and wrinkles as well. 

Fortunately, nicotinamide can help boost the production of ceramides. These substances help create a layer that protects the skin. Ceramide does not only prevent moisture loss, but it can also help protect the skin from harmful pollutants and whatnot.  


is niacinamide good for acne

Niacinamide for Acne 

Apart from keeping the skin moisturized and wrinkle-free, Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce acne. Such was proven in two studies that aimed to treat inflammatory acne,  a condition characterized by red and swollen pimples. Such occurs when bacteria, sebum, dead skin cells (or a combination of any) clog the pores. 

According to the 1995 study, topical 4% Niacinamide was able to reduce symptoms in 82% of the cases. This is markedly high compared to just 68% in the Clindamycin group. Nicotinamide was also able to decrease the severity and the number of acne lesions by 52% and 60% respectively. 

The same positive results were replicated in a 2013 study by Khodaeiani et al. What made this research even better is that it compared individuals with oily and non-oily faces. Expectedly, Nicotinamide was beneficial for both skin types. To make things better, no adverse side effects were noted by the participants. 

Nicotinamide may also help reduce oil (sebum) production, a major factor in the development of acne.  After all, high amounts of facial sebum can block the pores – thereby resulting in pimples.

Niacinamide’s oil-controlling properties were established in the study of Draelos et al. The study featured Japanese and American participants who were tasked to use a 2% Niacinamide moisturizer for 4 weeks. 

Japanese participants demonstrated a lower sebum excretion rate. This means that they were able to produce lesser amounts of oil. 

The Nicotinamide-treated Americans, on the other hand, recorded reduced casual sebum levels. This means that the amount of sebum in a certain area was lesser than usual. 

With these factors, the researchers believe that Niacinamide may help reduce acne by controlling the excessive amounts of acne-causing sebum.

Apart from reducing the number of inflammatory pimples, Niacinamide may help manage hormonal acne as well. Such was chronicled in the success story of Jacqueline Kilikita, a beauty journalist who has long endured a battle with hormonal zits.

One of her holy grail items was a Niacinamide product, which had helped ‘normalize’ her pores and reduce blemishes. The product was also able to control her facial sebum production, which, as has been mentioned, is a key factor in acne development. 

is niacinamide good for acne

How to Use Niacinamide

Niacinamide supplementation comes in two forms: oral and topical. 

Oral capsules may be taken once or twice a day. According to WebMD, an improvement in acne symptoms may be seen after 8 weeks of continuous intake. 

It is important to note that extended-release Nicotinamide tablets should not be chewed, crushed, or split. If you are taking cholestyramine, you should take Niacinamide 4 to 6 hours before/after as the said drug can affect its absorption.

Nicotinamide tablets are generally safe to use. However, as with other drugs, it comes with some side effects, such as nausea, diarrhea, and stomach upset. In the rare chance that you develop an allergy to this drug, you should call your doctor if you experience any of the following: 

  • Itching/swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
  • Rashes 
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Dizziness 

Topical niacinamide, on the other hand, is applied directly to areas afflicted with acne, eczema, or rosacea. While it is deemed safe for use, this medication can result in itching, redness, and a mild burning sensation. 

Apart from niacinamide creams, there are skin care products that feature this beautifying vitamin. According to experts, a toner can be used to moisturize skin. A booster, on the other hand, can be mixed with your favorite moisturizer for best results. For those suffering from problematic zits, orange peel skin, and obvious sun damage, an extra-strength serum should be applied regularly. 

Bottom Line

Niacin and Niacinamide are forms of Vitamin B3 that are needed by the body. These substances are beneficial to the skin, as they can boost ceramide production and fight free radical damage. Nicotinamide, with its anti-inflammatory and sebum-controlling properties, may help reduce the symptoms of both inflammatory and hormonal acne.