Type of Ingredient: Brightener, known as Vitamin B3
Main Benefits:Helps skin retain moisture, reduces inflammation, and fades the appearance of dark spots and pigmentation
Who Should Use It: In general, anyone who wants their skin to be bright or reduce aging
Ideal For These Concerns: Hyperpigmentation, redness, dryness, dehydration, sun damage, and dark spots
How Often Can You Use It: You can use it in both morning and evening
Works well with: When coupled with acetyl glycosamine (NAG), it’s brightening power increases
What is niacinamide?
If you’re skincare fanatics like us, you may have heard the ingredient Niacinamide pop up here and there a few times. Vitamin B3 also known as niacinamide is an ingredient made for skin brightening benefits. Our body does not produce the vitamin on its own so therefore we have inserted it into various skincare products and supplements.
The Benefits of Vitamin B3
The key benefits of Vitamin B3 are: it reduces the appearance of dark spots and discoloration, leaves the complexion looking even and bright, and increases skin hydration and moisture. Dennis Gross, MD, New York dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, explains that “‘niacinamide improves ceramide synthesis, which strengthens the barrier function [of the skin] and prevents transepidermal water loss.’”
Not only is it anti-inflammatory, but it promotes the building of the skin’s barrier, the evening of skin tone, and the brightening of skin. Niacinamide, which is the active form of vitamin B3, has us all in awe of its extensive benefits that has been clinically proven to decrease pore sizes and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
A proven anti-inflammatory, niacinamide is also an effective treatment for rosacea, acne, and hyperpigmentation. According to research conducted by Dr. Hanley and Dr. Jiang, both from the Department of Dermatology at the University of San Francisco, niacinamide “reduces melanosome transfer from melanocytes to surrounding keratinocytes. One study showed that 5% niacinamide moisturizer provided 35–68 percent inhibition of melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes.”
Vitamin B3’s Skincare Power Duo
Another fact that you should know about skincare products is that they work almost ten times better when paired with certain ingredients, forming a “power duo.” “When coupled with acetyl glycosamine (NAG), it’s brightening power increases dramatically.” says LeCerre Skincare Founder Cathy Beaupain. In regards to brightening and evening skin tone, niacinamide “‘works in a way that is complementary to commonly used tyrosinase inhibitors [the enzyme that controls the production of melanin]”, such as hyaluronic acid and retinol, “to deliver on a multi-mechanistic, pigment-evening benefit,’” says skincare researcher Barbara Green.
How To Use It
After washing your face, directly apply 1-2 pumps of the serum on your hands. Then rub this serum directly onto your face and neck. Apply to the entire face and neck for most effective skin brightening. Do this process once in the morning and once in the evening. Follow with whatever moisturizers or serums you prefer.
Our Top 3 Products
Niacinamide concentration matters. At least 4% Niacinamide has been clinically shown to be effective. So we have reviewed products with niacinamide and have our favorite top 3.
The PCA Skin - Vitamin BC Brightening Serum is an antioxidant-rich dark spot corrector.
The serum contains niacinamide as well as antioxidants and green tea to target dark spots, reduce fine lines, dryness, hyperpigmentation, and redness. The product is sulfate and phthalate-free.
“I received this as a sample with an order recently. I started using it, because I love PCA products. I have been using it everyday, and my skin has a more even tone. My skin is also more hydrated. I was so pleased with it that I bought the product…” I recommend this product to anyone who has skin discoloration and aging skin” writes one Dermstore shopper.
The product currently has a 5 star rating on Dermstore, based on 5 reviews.
Pros: Seems to leave the skin more hydrated and even.
Cons: Takes weeks to see results, Price at $115
The Rapid Brightening Serum is a skin brightener aimed to diminish the appearance of hyperpigmentation, melasma, and acne marks.
The serum is specifically formulated for dark skin tones with Fitzpatrick Skin Type III-VI and the formula combines clinically proven active ingredients at the optimal concentration to reduce the production of melanin and improve skin texture. The serum is dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, no harmful chemicals, no parabens, no sulfates, no synthetic fragrance, and cruelty-free.
The product has a 5 star rating on LeCerre, based on 4 reviews.
“This has been the best product for me and my olive skin tone! I have numerous acne scars around my chin and cheeks, some sun spots as well, and this has been the only product I’ve actually seen results with” writes one LeCerre customer.
Pros: Addresses the skin concerns of dark spots and melasma and is designed for women with ethnic skin tones.
Cons: Takes a couple weeks to see results. Price at $85
The SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 serum is a corrective anti-aging moisturizer for environmentally damaged skin.
The serum contains about 5% niacinamide and a few other ingredients which aim to solve skin problems such as redness, hyperpigmentation, deep lines, and wrinkles. The serum is dermatologist tested and is fragrance-free, formulated without sulfates, parabens, and phthalates.
The product has a 5 star rating on Dermstore, based on 61 reviews.
“This product is doing an excellent job of helping my skin look more youthful. It’s a must have in any skin care treatment” writes one Dermstore customer.
Pros: Works on all skin types and diminishes the appearance of dark spots, fine lines, and wrinkles.
Cons: Very expensive
Ritter, Liz. “Experts Agree Niacinamide Is a Miracle Skin Care Vitamin--Here’s Why.” NewBeauty, NewBeauty, 19 Jul. 2019, https://www.newbeauty.com/blog/dailybeauty/9019-the-miracle-skin-care-vitamin-youre-probably-not-using/.
Hanley K, Jiang Y, Crumrine D, et al. Activators of the nuclear hormone receptors PPAR-alpha and FXR accelerate the development of the fetal epidermal permeability barrier. Journal of Clinical Invest. 1997;100:705–712.