Allenby, however, says moisturizers may be the best way to get your niacinamide. “Overall, creams may slightly increase the absorption due to increased inclusiveness, which increases a product’s absorption into the skin greater than a serum will,” she says. That said, she’s a big fan of the SkinMedica Lumivive System, in which the daytime serum is a fantastic source of niacinamide.
Confused? Consider Garshick’s advice: The intended outcome determines which formulation is ideal. “For example, for brightening, a serum may be preferred, while for soothing and moisturizing benefits, a cream may be best,” she says, recommending the Pond’s Rejuveness Advanced Hydrating Night Cream. But regardless of the format, she says, it’s not necessary to use products with a very high concentration of niacinamide in order to get the results you’re seeking.
Hu agrees that a higher percentage of an active ingredient like niacinamide isn’t always better. “An effective product should have between 2 and 10 percent niacinamide,” she explains. Allenby adds that products with niacinamide concentrations under 5 percent are especially well-tolerated.
Are there any adverse reactions to niacinamide?
If you take the experts’ advice and keep within a well-tolerated percentage range, you’re unlikely to experience sensitivity or irritation from niacinamide. But that doesn’t mean you should dive headfirst into it all willy-nilly. “I rarely see reactions to niacinamide, but as with incorporating any new product or ingredient, it’s important to test your body’s reaction first with a small section on your neck or inner wrist before applying it to your entire face,” Irwin advises.
Although niacinamide is known to help reduce redness in skin with acne and rosacea, if you’re concerned about using it topically and want to play it extra-safe, Allenby says there are prescription oral forms of niacinamide available through dermatologists.
Another thing to consider: “Since niacinamide in oral form promotes hair growth in some, it remains to be seen whether widespread use on the skin will cause hair growth on the face,” Irwin says.
Even if you’re a fan of using other active ingredients in your skin-care routine, you don’t have to worry about contraindications because niacinamide plays well with most other ingredients. “Niacinamide is a unique skin-care ingredient that gets along with most other commonly used products, including retinol, alpha hydroxy acids, and other antioxidants,” Irwin says.
The big exception: vitamin C. But not because of anything that will cause harm to your skin. “Niacinamide can reduce the effectiveness of vitamin C, so it’s best to apply them alternatively — one in the morning and one at night.”
And luckily, using niacinamide in the morning doesn’t pose an increased UV risk. Unlike some other popular active ingredients like alpha hydroxy acids and retinol, “niacinamide is photo-protectant, so it is not considered a product that may cause photosensitivity,” Allenby explains. That said, you should still always wear sunscreen.
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