Skincare products make up a staggering $20 billion dollar a year industry in America alone. It seems that there is always some new miracle lotion or cream on the market that promises drastic results. Scientists and doctors devote huge amounts of time to developing these products because they are so lucrative. Every so often an ingredient really does have an amazing effect on skin. Niacin and niacinamide (a form of the vitamin B3) is one such ingredient, with plenty of studies and research to back up the benefits.
What is Niacin?
You’ve probably heard of niacin before, but perhaps in a nutritional context. Niacin is found in milk, eggs, green leafy vegetables, beans, cereals, yeast, and in some types of fish. It’s required by the body in order to properly metabolize fats and sugars and in the maintenance of cells and a lack of niacin can lead to indigestion, fatigue, depression, and a serious deficiency called Pellagra. Though niacin is found in food, research has shown that to achieve increased benefits for the skin, it takes more than what we typically receive in our diets.
Benefits of Niacin on the Skin
For skincare, niacin is best used topically. When used in creams, lotions, or sprays directly on the skin, it leads to increased cell turnover, wrinkle reduction, boosts moisture, protects against certain forms of skin cancer, and treats a wide variety of other skin issues including:
Risks or Side Effects
One thing to be aware of is the “Niacin Flush” when using products containing niacin. Tingling and redness is very common immediately upon application to the skin, often resulting in a deep red flush and warmth on the cheeks of some individuals who use it. Niacin is a vasodilator (it expands the vessels to bring blood and nutrients to the surface of the skin) so the flush is actually one indication that the vitamin is working its magic on you. The redness and tingling typically only last for a few minutes, but for this reason, many people may choose to apply niacin-based skincare products at night. Being sufficiently hydrated can also prevent or lessen the niacin flush. For many people, the tingling sensation and redness will lessen over extended weeks of use. Some individuals may find they never get the flush at all.
Where to Find Niacin
Because it is water-soluble and stable in the presence of heat and light, niacin works well for topical use in a variety of different types of skincare products. It is now being formulated in a variety of serums, creams, sprays and lotions, but unfortunately, like most products, a majority of the cost to the consumer is not for the ingredients themselves but for the marketing and packaging. Instead of spending a lot of money on pre-formulated products, niacin can be purchased in bulk online or from your local vitamin shop.
There are several DIY products you can make on your own to save quite a lot of money. See the video below for information about how to make a naicinamide face spray for incorporation into your beauty routine.
Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.
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