Elizabeth Best | 11 February 2020

The beauty world is all abuzz with niacinamide, but what is this mystery ingredient and when should I use it? These are the questions I found myself asking one Sunday night when I’d decided my skin needed a little pampering.

I’d been browsing online for different beauty treatments and products with niacinamide kept popping up. Yes, it seems knowing what ingredients are in your skincare is very, very IN so I decided to do the research for you.

When Monday morning came around, I went straight to the expertsnamely Desiree Stordahl, Paula’s Choice Senior Research & Education Managerwith my questions.

What is niacinamide?

“Niacinamide is vitamin B3. Applied topically, it stands out for its ability to retrain skin cells to function in a healthier manner, like they did before sun damage, environmental stressors, and other skin-ravaging factors kicked in.

“Among its most impressive benefits, research shows niacinamide can tighten enlarged pores, improve dull/uneven skin tone, and smooth out rough-textured skin (especially when used in high concentrations).

“Niacinamide also strengthens skin’s barrier (its first line of defence) and plays a role in repairing signs of past damage (including fine lines and wrinkles). Even more fascinating, evolving research shows it can help skin to better protect itself from UV light (you still need sunscreen, but anything else that helps protect skin is a plus).”

How do you know if you need it?

“Because niacinamide is so versatile in how it can help skin in many ways, it’s an ingredient that just about anyone can benefit from. It’s a game-changer if you struggle with enlarged pores, “orange-peel” textured skin, or a complexion that’s gone lacklustre.”

How often should you use it?

“Use niacinamide daily to keep skin in check.

“I personally use Paula's Choice Niacinamide 20% Treatment (launching in Australia in April) morning and night because it does such an incredible job of minimising pores and making skin look overall smoother and brighter—but once a day use is fine, too.”

Can you layer it with other products and where in your routine does it come?

“Niacinamide is a very compatible ingredient that plays well with others, including retinol, chemical exfoliants, and all types of antioxidants.

“There’s a pervasive myth that it can’t be used at the same time as vitamin C, but that’s not true. In fact, using them together is a powerhouse for tackling dull, uneven skin tone and wrinkles. This myth stems from studies decades ago that used non-stabilized forms of the ingredients, which differs from how today’s best niacinamide and vitamin C products are formulated.

“Where it falls in your routine depends on the texture of your niacinamide product (niacinamide can be found in toners, moisturizers, booster concentrates, serums, and other types of treatments). As a general rule, use your cleanser, toner, and leave-on exfoliant first, then apply the rest of your products, including the one with niacinamide, in order of thinnest to thickest texture.”

Why do you think people are becoming more interested in the science behind skincare rather than the marketing hype? (Seriously when I first started out as a beauty editor I had never even heard of niacinamide and I couldn't even pronounce hyaluronic acid)

“With the internet, we have better access to information than ever before, which means people don’t have to rely just on what companies tell them anymore. They can take matters into their own hands and do the research. Not to say that’s an easy task—there’s still a lot of misinformation out there that you have to sort through to find the truth, but when you do, the results speak for themselves.

At Paula’s Choice our motto is “beauty begins with truth” because we believe everyone deserves skin care that delivers on its promises. We’re continually evaluating the research around ingredients and sharing that information on paulaschoice.com.au so you can make an informed choice.”

About the author


Elizabeth Best is a journalist, beauty expert, foodie and travel lover with a mild obsession for all things shimmery. She likes long walks down the makeup aisle and you can follow her adventures on Instagram @thebeautypalate.


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