Cover image (cristi ursea-unsplash)
Let's get this straight. I am absolutely okay with the way my skin is. It has been through hell because of many of my health issues and it has been kind enough to respond to my dietary and lifestyle changes. Yet, as a part of my self care and self love journey, I tend to explore a little bit (can only do little bit because my skin is more sensitive than my mood).
First let us understand my skin situation. Tone-wise, it's a typical North Indian dusky brown skin that had it's fair share of puberty damages! It was on the very oily side in my growing up years but with time, post 25 or due to inclusion of salicylic acid in my routine, the excessive oil production has been under check. So as of now, it is a combination type. Mumbai humidity sometimes drives my skin to its oily days but it's not that bad now. Due to many medications and lifestyle issues I had hormonal acne. how do you identify hormonal acne? It is mostly located on the lower half of the face- chin and jawline. As I worked on my diet, by quitting dairy and modifying lifestyle, I achieved fair success in reducing the active acne. The bad news is, scars and spots take their own sweet time.
The question is, did Niacinamide help during my active acne phase? No. Before getting into my experience with Niacinamide, let us see what are the published and research backed claims of using Niacinamide.
1) Overall skincare
- Oil Control: Niacinamide can help regulate sebum production, reducing excess oil on the skin.
- Acne Management: It has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe acne-prone skin and reduce the appearance of blemishes.
- Pore Minimization: Niacinamide can help tighten and minimize the appearance of pores.
- Uneven Skin Tone: It's known to improve skin tone by reducing the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
- Barrier Support: Niacinamide strengthens the skin's natural barrier, helping to prevent moisture loss and external irritants.
- Wrinkle Reduction: Niacinamide can help improve the elasticity of the skin, potentially reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Collagen Production: It supports the production of collagen, a protein important for maintaining skin's firmness.
- Environmental Damage: Niacinamide's antioxidant properties can help protect the skin from environmental stressors like pollution and UV rays.
- Dark Spot Reduction: Niacinamide can fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation, resulting in a more even skin tone.
Niacinamide is also considered as one of the safest active ingredients to include in skincare. It is in fact, one of the very few actives that is pregnancy safe. Here's what contributes to its categorization as a "safe" active.
- Low Irritation Potential: It is well-tolerated by most skin types, including sensitive skin. It rarely causes irritation, redness, or itching, even at higher concentrations. This makes it suitable for a wide range of individuals, including those with sensitive or reactive skin.
- Minimal Side Effects: Compared to other active ingredients like retinoids or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), niacinamide has fewer potential side effects. It doesn't typically cause the initial dryness, peeling, or sensitivity that some other actives might trigger during the adjustment period.
- Stability: It is relatively stable and doesn't degrade as quickly as some other skincare actives. It remains effective even when exposed to light and air, which can be a concern for other ingredients like vitamin C.
- Compatibility: It plays well with a wide range of other skincare ingredients. It can be combined with other actives, like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and peptides, without causing adverse reactions. This versatility allows it to be easily incorporated into existing skincare routines.
Now, let me jump on to my experience. It did absolutely nothing to my active acne. What worked on my active acne what mostly elimination of the trigger: dairy and lifestyle issues along with skincare routine with stronger ingredients. Using Niacinamide in that phase was as good as not using anything. Quite understandable now, since it is a very mild ingredient.
I reintroduced Niacinaminde: When the active acne was gone and there were few new acne only (blame the occasional chai cups and sweets), I wanted to go easy on the actives. So I retained salicylic acid facewash (that also, not every day) and removed all other actives. So for a serum, I was confused between Azelaic acid (my current favorite) and Niacinamide. I started off with Niacinamide as the previous bottle was remaining and well withing the expiry range. This time around, here's all that it did:
1) Oil control: Absolutely true to its claim, it did help me in oil control (of course aided by salicylic acid).
2) Pore-size: Run away from a person or influencer or says that pores can be "closed". Most of the times, even the size cannot be reduced. The only thing you can possible delay is the further increase in size and number of open pores. With diligent use, I can see that happening.
3) Scars: Now Niacinamide is not my most recommended product for scar reduction because I have found better and more efficient safe alternatives. Yet, I cannot refuse that it takes its sweet time and definitely work on scars.
4) Pigmentation: Yes, it works. Period.
My final verdict is: Niacinamide is not a cure of acne or scars. However, if you have solved the issue and do not have major concerns then, in case you wish to include a safe serum then you should skip other actives and go for Niacinamide. Majorly because of its stability and safety, it is a good everyday serum.
Please share your experiences with Niacinamide with me. :)