Niacinamide: What it is, How to Use It Safely, and Benefits

Published July 15th, 2021 by Chris Riley
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that belongs to the niacin group of B vitamins. It can be taken as a dietary supplement or applied topically on the skin. Niacinamide has many benefits for the skin, such as improving complexion and reducing acne, also known as acne vulgaris. However, Niacinamide does have some side effects that should be noted before use. Find out more about what Niacinamide is, how it works, and where you can buy products with Niacinamide in it. 

What is Niacinamide and what are the benefits?

Niacinamide is a type of niacin, which is a form of vitamin B3, an essential vitamin. This naturally occurring substance can also be found in meat, fish, nuts, mushrooms, and some vegetables. You can even find it added in cereals, vitamin supplements, and other foods as it is water-soluble. Once you take niacin, your body will use as much as is needed and the excess will be converted to niacinamide. Some pills and topical solutions are available of just Niacinamide. Niacin and Niacinamide are used as dietary supplements, but they can also be found in some topical skincare products.

Niacinamide can be used to treat skin conditions such as acne, sun damage, and age spots. It's also an effective skin-lightening agent that reduces redness on the face caused by rosacea or erythema dyschromicum perstans (EDP). Niacinamide is often mixed with other ingredients in topical skin care products because Niacinamide doesn't work well alone. You can mix it with retinol, hyaluronic acid, and other moisturizers.  

What else can Niacinamide do?

Acne is not the only condition that this natural, wonder vitamin can combat. In fact, ongoing research has proven that Niacinamide has many benefits for the skin and other parts of the body too. It can reduce signs of aging and improve complexion, to name a few but check out our full list below.

  • The vitamin improves complexion with an uneven skin tone by reducing fine lines and wrinkles. 
  • Niacinamide is effective at treating sun damage because it stimulates skin cell turnover (when new skin cells form) which makes your skin look smoother with fewer wrinkles and dark spots. 
  • It helps treat pellagra, a condition caused by the lack of niacin in the body. 
  • It helps battle skin cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown it has the ability to help reduce the risk of certain types of skin cancer. 
  • Niacinamide is effective at treating and preventing insulin-dependent diabetes, or type 1 diabetes in the prediabetic or early stages of the disease. 
  • The vitamin has been shown to reduce inflammation and increase joint flexibility in those with osteoarthritis
  • Niacinamide decreases pigmentation associated with hyperpigmentation and melasma.  [link to study]
  • The vitamin helps with hyperphosphatemia. The condition occurs when there is too much phosphate in the blood, usually due to chronic kidney disease. When taking Niacinamide, clinical studies have shown it reduces hyperphosphatemia and kidney disease when used with other phosphate binders [link to study]

Niacinamide truly is one of nature's wonder vitamins when it comes to its ability to treat a wide variety of diseases. Let’s find out how it can help with your acne. 

Niacinamide vs. niacin vs. nicotinamide

To clear up some of the confusion, we will define and showcase the differences between these three seemingly similar scientific terms. 

First, Niacinamide is not the same as niacin. Both are forms of B3 vitamins but not the same type. Your body does produce niacinamide from excess niacin though, so you can produce one from the other. 

Nicotinamide is Niacinamide. They are the same thing with a different name which also means that your body can produce nicotinamide, since it is the same thing as niacinamide, from excess niacin. 

How does Niacinamide work?

Niacinamide is a niacin form of vitamin B, specifically vitamin B3. Niacinamide has been found to improve the appearance of the skin, reduce acne, and even prevent sun damage.

Niacinamide works by increasing blood flow to tissues through vasodilation, which means Niacinamide helps to temporarily dilate blood vessels. When topical Niacinamide is applied, the niacin in niacinamide increases the circulation of nutrients to cells, which may lead to clearer skin. This may result in a healthier-looking complexion as blood brings nutrients and oxygen which are necessary for healthy collagen production. Healthier skin brought on by Niacinamide use causes the sebaceous glands, the glands in your skin near hair follicles, to produce less sebum, the natural oil it produces for your body. With less oil production, your skin has a better chance of clearing up over time. In addition, niacin converts into Niacinamide, which helps niacin work better and for longer periods of time.

Side effects of Niacinamide

Let's review some of niacinamide’s side effects. Niacin, not Niacinamide, can cause side effects when taken orally in high doses, particularly the skin flush reaction (also known as niacin rush), nausea, and stomach ache or cramps. These reactions are rare when niacin is applied to the skin because it does not enter through the bloodstream. It should be noted that niacinamide does not cause the flushing associated with niacin. 

The most common side effect of topical niacin or Niacinamide usage is a redness or tingling sensation that typically subsides after the application has been washed off. This will only happen if you use too much product on one part of your body at once, so apply as directed. 

Please note that Niacinamide is most likely safe in the recommended doses for both children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. The most severe side effects are for those who take niacinamide orally which is not necessary for the prevention of acne but it can still be done. Be sure to always follow the recommended doses on any labels or as instructed by your dermatologist. 

As with any new medication, please consult your doctor or pharmacist with any questions you may have and tell them any medications you are taking or plan to take in the future.

Where can I get Niacinamide? 

Niacinamide is not a prescription drug and is available over-the-counter so you should be able to easily find it at your local pharmacy or online. It is available in pill or capsule form, if taken orally. If taken as a topical treatment, you can find Niacinamide as a serum, cleanser, cream, and face mask. 

There are a variety of brands available, some containing only Niacinamide while others mix other ingredients into the solution. Please talk to your physician to find what is right for you. 

We have listed our partners who have products with Niacinamide available through their websites. You can order from your couch and receive a discreet package right to your mailbox. If you want to consult a medical professional regarding your acne, our partners can also provide an easy service to talk to someone who can also prescribe other medications if you need something more. 



Nava MD 


Niacinamide is an inactive form of niacin, a B vitamin and is typically applied topically and does not enter the bloodstream like niacin which can cause side effects including skin flushing. When Niacinamide is applied topically it increases circulation to cells which leads to clearer skin and less sebum being produced by the sebaceous glands. There are few side effects from Niacinamide when it is applied topically but niacin can have serious side effects if taken orally as it enters the bloodstream although these are rare. Please consult your dermatologist or pharmacist regarding any questions you may have about the drug and always tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking. If you can't make it to your doctor, we have provided a way to receive Niacinamide right to your mailbox and a certified medical professional can conveniently chat with you about the possibility of prescription medicines to help determine the best results for you. 


New England Journal of Medicine Niacinamide

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