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Niacinamide - Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects

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Niacinamide is a physiologically active form of niacin (vitamin B3) that is beneficial to skin and hair. Read this article to know more about niacinamide.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy

Published At August 29, 2022
Reviewed AtAugust 29, 2022


Vitamin B3 (Niacin) is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be synthesized in our body but has to be either taken through diet or by topical application. The active forms of niacin are niacinamide and nicotinic acid. Niacinamide is most commonly used among these two because of its negligible side effects compared to nicotinic acid.

What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is the amide form of Vitamin B3 (Niacin), a water-soluble vitamin used incosmeceuticals.It is also called nicotinamide. They are commonly incorporated into skin and hair care products. They are found in foods such as meat, milk, fish, eggs, green vegetables, cereals, etc. They are produced when niacin is consumed in greater amounts.

How Do Niacinamides Work?

Niacinamide has the following roles:

  • Maintains the Metabolism of the Cells: As aging occurs, the NAD (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide)and NADP(nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide phosphate) levels are reduced in the cells, which are responsible for maintaining the metabolism. Niacinamide, being the precursor of NAD and NADP, enhances metabolic activity when utilized.

  • Increases Collagen Synthesis: It was found that introducing niacinamide in aged individuals resulted in increased collagen production. Thus it acts on the dermal component of the skin and acts beneficially.

  • Acts as an Epidermal Barrier: Niacinamide maintains the structural and functional integrity of the skin by acting as a barrier to the skin and by rejuvenating the layers of the skin.

  • Maintains Viable Layers of the Skin: On application of niacinamide on aged epidermal tissue, it leads to increased production of coenzymes of niacinamide, thereby maintaining a completely viable skin.

  • Decreases the Pigmentation of Skin: It decreases the pigmentation of skin by inhibiting the transfer of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes.

  • Acts as an Anti-acne Agent: It is commonly used for acne control as it can control fatty acid synthesis in the skin.

  • Prevents Yellowing of Skin: Application of niacinamide leads to an increase in NADH(Nicotinamide adenine Dinucleotide+hydrogen) and NADPH levels which are antioxidants that prevent glycation of proteins and thereby prevent yellowing of the skin.

What Are the Various Routes of Administration of Niacinamide?

Niacinamide can be administered through various routes such as

  • Oral route

  • Intravenous

  • Intramuscular

  • Topical application

How Are Niacinamides Beneficial to Us Depending on Different Routes of Intake?

The effects on oral intake of niacinamides are,

  • Treats Pellagra: Pellagra is a systemic disease due to a deficiency of vitamin B3 (Niacin). It is characterized by dementia, dermatitis, and diarrhea. Niacinamide is prescribed to treat the deficiency of niacin.

  • Effective for Acne: Acne is a skin condition due to the blockage or inflammation of the hair follicle and sebaceous gland. As niacinamide contributes to the regulation of sebum production, it is effective for acne control.

  • Delays Type 1 Diabetes: Niacinamide helps slow down the progression of type 1 diabetes by improving beta-cell function.

  • Decreases Phosphate Levels: Patients with kidney failure have high levels of phosphate. Niacinamide helps to reduce these elevated phosphate levels.

  • Osteoarthritis: It helps in improving joint flexibility. It also reduces joint pain and swelling.

  • Nonmelanoma Skin Cancer: It helps to prevent new skin cancer and precancerous spots.

  • Other less evident uses are for memory loss, leprosy, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD).

The benefits of niacinamide on the skin are as follows.

  • Prevents Aging: On aging, collagen starts breaking down, and eventually, the skin loses its elasticity, and when skin relaxes, it leads to bigger pores. But niacinamide is effective in diminishing these pores.

  • Fights against spots and pigmentation.

  • Effective on acne control as it regulates the oil production in the skin.

  • Reduces Wrinkles: Niacinamide reduces lines and wrinkles on the skin by stimulating collagen and elastin production.

  • Reduces skin redness and blotchiness.

  • In combination with hyaluronic acid, it improves the hydration of the skin.

  • Niacinamides are also used in combination with retinol for good skin.

The effects of niacinamide on hair are as follows.

  • Enhances the appearance and improves the texture of dry hair.

  • Improves the condition of hair follicles.

  • Reduces breakage and split ends and improves the smoothness and softness of the hair.

  • Increases the skin protein, thereby improving the moisture content of the scalp.

  • Increases keratin production.

  • Reduces scalp inflammation.

  • Protects hair against environmental damage.

  • Regulates the scalp by providing a consistent supply of oxygen to it.

The intramuscular administration of niacinamide is done through the combination of other fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins as a multivitamin injection. It is commonly prescribed to individuals with vitamin deficiencies, poor nutrition, digestive disorders, pregnant women, etc.

What Are the Currently Available Niacinamide Products?

The currently available niacinamide products are as follows.

  • Skincare Products - Skin cleanser, moisturizer, face and neck cream, body lotion, night creams, powders, sprays, paste masks, etc.

  • Hair Care Products - Shampoos, hair conditioners, hair serums, hair grooming products, etc.

  • Eye makeup remover.

  • Eye lotion.

  • In combination with other vitamins such as multivitamin supplements and injections.

What Are the Side Effects of Niacinamide?

On moving forward, niacinamide's side effects are found to be negligible when compared to nicotinic acid.

  • On oral administration, niacinamide is found to be safe when taken in lower doses. If it exceeds, it might lead to headache, dizziness, and stomach upset.

  • Serious effects of oral administration of high doses are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, black stools, increased blood sugar levels, heartburn, etc.

  • On topical application, niacinamide may lead to burning, itching, irritation, easy bruising, and skin redness to a certain extent. These skin reactions are due to elevated histamine levels.

Who Should Avoid Niacinamide?

Due to certain systemic and cutaneous side effects of niacinamide, they are contraindicated in certain individuals as follows,

  • Pregnant women.

  • Breastfeeding mother.

  • Individuals with diabetes, liver disease, gout, and gallbladder disorders.

  • Individuals with an increased risk of bleeding due to clotting disorders.

  • Individuals with peptic ulcers.

What Are the Warnings for Usage of Niacinamide?

  • Niacinamide should not be taken on an empty stomach.

  • Do not consume alcohol during intake of niacinamide.

  • Inform the doctor about the intake of niacinamide since it can affect certain lab test results.


Besides the negligible and less evident side effects, niacinamide has been a great source of benefit to skin and hair. Niacinamide, being derived from a water-soluble vitamin, has to be eaten or applied topically to reap its benefits.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Happens if Using Niacinamide Every Day?

The use of Niacinamide every day helps to decrease the hyperpigmentation of skin and swelling. It helps to improve overall skin texture, thus making the skin more supple and bright.


Does Niacinamide Darken Skin?

No, Niacinamide application helps to decrease skin pigmentation by reducing melanin pigment, thereby causing brightening or lightening of the skin.


What Does Niacinamide Do to the Skin?

Niacinamide helps in reducing wrinkles and prevents signs of aging. It also reduces excess melanin pigments in the skin. It makes the skin look bright, supple, lighter, spotless, and hydrated on regular use.


Is Niacinamide Good for the Long Term?

Yes, Niacinamide is good for long-term use and barely carries any severe adverse effects. It should be avoided in patients with systemic diseases and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers. It can be discontinued by the individual if any side effects like rashes, redness, or skin allergies are noticed.


What Are the Signs That Indicate Niacinamide Is Working?

Niacinamide shows improvement in skin texture within weeks of application. Niacinamide may take longer to show effects in a few people. The minimum application period is around 8 to 12 weeks for noticing the effectiveness of niacinamide.


Does Niacinamide Make Skin Glow?

Yes, It makes the skin glow by reduction of hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and skin dryness thus making skin look bright with the improved overall texture.


Can Niacinamide Cause Skin Purging?

Increased application of any ingredient can cause skin turnover to shoot resulting in purging or breakouts on the skin. Niacinamide usually does not cause purging. If any symptoms of allergy like rashes, redness, and itching develop, contact the skin specialist soon.


What Happens in the Case of Overuse Of Niacinamide on Skin?

Excessive application of niacinamide causes swelling and redness on the skin which subsides over time. It is advised not to use a higher concentration of niacinamide if it's causing an allergy to the skin.


Can One Use Niacinamide Without Moisturizer?

Yes, it can be used without moisturizer as well. Application of niacinamide without moisturizer can cause drying out of the skin so it is advised to use it with moisturizer for better penetration in the skin.


Which Is Better: Niacinamide or Hyaluronic Acid

According to researchers, hyaluronic acid has proven to be more effective moisture to the skin. Hyaluronic acid can be started initially followed by niacinamide as a skin care regimen. As both of them act differently on the skin.


Does Niacinamide Help With Sleep?

According to the research, the use of niacinamide supplements at the dose of 3 grams per day has proven to be effective in treating sleep disorders or insomnia.


Is This the Same Thing as Niacin?

Niacin and niacinamide are two different types in the group of vitamin B. Niacin is one of the vitamin B3 forms whereas Niacinamide is one of the major types of vitamin B3 or niacin


What Benefits Does Niacinamide Offer?

Niacinamide helps to treat signs of aging, hyperpigmentation, and dark spots, thus making the skin bright and supple.


Are Skin Products Preferable Over Food and Supplements?

It is always better to give the body essential vitamins and nutrients naturally with a balanced diet. Skin care products can be used simultaneously with a healthy diet.
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy
Dr. V. Srikanth Reddy



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