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It can be challenging to keep all of the top skin care ingredients and their benefits straight—especially when some have similar-sounding names. For example, is Niacinamide the same as Niacin? While both forms of Vitamin b3 are essential for skin health, each offers its own benefits. And since your body doesn't produce Vitamin b3 on its own, you have to get it from your diet or through topical skin care products.

Dive in for a closer look at Niacin vs. Niacinamide so you can feel confident you're choosing the best ingredients to address your skin concerns.


What Is Niacin?

Niacin (Nicotinic Acid) is the simplest form of Vitamin b3. Vitamin b3 plays a crucial role in the nervous system, digestive system, and skin health, and it helps your body convert food into energy, suppresses inflammation, and increases circulation. While you can get a boost of Niacin from supplements, the best way to reap its benefits is from Niacin-rich foods, including fish, poultry, nuts, peanuts, baked potatoes, red meat, fortified grains, bananas, and legumes.


Niacin Benefits for the Skin

Niacin is less common than Niacinamide in skin care products, but it has a few notable topical benefits.


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Reinforces the Skin Barrier

Niacin can strengthen the skin barrier, which may be damaged by environmental assault (e.g., sun exposure, extreme temperatures, and weather conditions), harsh skin care products, or skin care formulas unsuitable for your skin type.


Soothes Irritated Skin

Niacin can help relieve sunburn and other forms of skin irritation due to its ability to reduce inflammation and promote DNA repair.


Supports Other Ingredients

Niacin supports your other skin care active ingredients, including minimizing redness and sensitivity associated with Retinol.


What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide (Nicotinamide) is another form of Vitamin B3 you can obtain from supplements or a Vitamin b3-rich diet. Your body can also convert tryptophan (an amino acid, famously present in turkey) into Niacinamide.

So, is Niacinamide the same as Niacin? Not exactly. As forms of the same vitamin, they both provide Vitamin b3 activity, meaning they have some overlapping benefits. However, they have different chemical structures and play distinct roles in the body. For example, Niacinamide is especially versatile and well suited for addressing skin concerns.


Niacinamide Benefits for the Skin

Both Niacin and Niacinamide support skin health, but Niacinamide is more popular as a topical skin care ingredient due to its ability to support multiple skin types and conditions. Here's what it can do for your skin.


Reduces Sensitivity

Niacinamide is touted for its ability to reduce redness, inflammation, and sensitivity associated with skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Like Niacin, this can also help nullify any potential irritating side effects when using Retinol.


Fades Hyperpigmentation

Niacinamide breaks down the melanin deposits that cause discoloration while preventing hyperpigmentation from spreading. In fact, clinical studies show that Niacinamide significantly decreases discoloration after four weeks of consistent use.


Improves Skin Barrier Function

This superstar ingredient helps protect the skin's moisture barrier from environmental aggressors, which prevents transepidermal water loss (the amount of water that escapes from the top layer of skin).


Softens Fine Lines and Wrinkles

Niacinamide stimulates collagen production, resulting in smoother, more youthful-looking skin. Research shows that using 5 percent Niacinamide twice daily for three months can significantly reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve elasticity.


Regulates Oil Production

When oily, acne-prone skin is stripped of its natural oils, it produces more oil to compensate for the loss. Niacinamide regulates sebum (oil) production while providing ample hydration, resulting in a balanced complexion with less noticeable pores and blemishes.


Incorporating Vitamin b3 into Your Routine

Understanding which ingredients to incorporate into your daily routine is a personal journey that may require guidance from a skin care professional. However, Niacinamide can address multiple skin types and conditions, and you can find it in a wide range of products. Here are some options.



You likely already use moisturizer daily, so consider getting your Niacinamide boost with a formula like PCA SKIN HydraBright. This daily moisturizer targets dryness, rough skin texture, and uneven skin tone to rescue dry, lackluster skin. While your skin's current condition will influence how quickly you'll see results, case studies show you can achieve a brighter, more hydrated complexion in just 21 days.



Serums help deliver key ingredients to the deeper layers of your skin. Try a Niacinamide-rich serum like PCA SKIN Vitamin b3 Brightening Serum. It improves skin barrier function and brightens dark spots by inhibiting melanin production, reducing redness, and minimizing age-related skin yellowing.


Under-Eye Cream

The skin under your eyes is the thinnest and the most vulnerable to damage, dryness, and premature aging, including dark circles, fine lines, and wrinkles. So, it may not come as a surprise that Niacinamide is a powerful tool for beating under-eye skin woes. Try PCA SKIN Vitamin b3 Eye Brightening Cream, formulated with 5 percent Niacinamide to help brighten, smooth, and refresh tired eyes while reducing puffiness.



If you're apprehensive about using Retinol, choosing a Retinol formula with Niacinamide may help put your mind at ease. PCA SKIN Intensive Age Refining Treatment®: 0.5% Pure Retinol is formulated with Retinopeptide and Stem Cell Extract technology to target fine lines, wrinkles, and uneven skin tone. All the while, Niacinamide's soothing and anti-inflammatory effects minimize potential irritation.


Your Skin, Your Routine

When it comes to Niacin vs. Niacinamide, both forms of Vitamin b3 benefit the skin, but it's easy to see why Niacinamide is so popular in skin care. It's one of the best all-encompassing ingredients to target every concern, from acne to signs of aging, and it's suitable for all skin types. So, no matter your skin care goals, Niacinamide can put you on the path to your best skin.


Rebecca Taras
A Chicagoland native, Rebecca began her career catering to celebrity clientele as a licensed esthetician at the Peninsula Chicago Hotel. Her passion for skin care ingredients, formulations, and skin histology led her to create custom in-room skin, bath, and body amenities for the Sofitel Hotel Chicago. The Chicago Fashion Foundation recognized her efforts with the Style Maker, Rule Breaker award in the Beauty category. She later went on to co-found Terminal Getaway airport spas. Rebecca’s experience also includes serving as an editor for digital outlets such as Refinery29, PopSugar, Forbes Travel Guides, and Bustle. She continues to refine her skin care knowledge while spending time traveling the world with her husband.