Rivals or soul mates?

Niacinamide and salicylic acid

If you read the list of ingredients in your skincare products - which we highly recommend you do - you’ll often come across two standout ingredients: niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 also called nicotinamide) and salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid. Here we’ll explore what each does and how they work together.

What is niacinamide and what are its benefits?

Niacinamide is a naturally occurring vitamin found in foods including yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, beans, and cereal grains. It is also used as a dietary supplement and as a powerful additive in skincare products. It’s an extraordinarily versatile ingredient that research shows is highly effective in helping reduce the redness left by spots (in concentrations of 2% or more) – making it a great choice for those with acne-prone skin.

This gentle antioxidant is water soluble and works with the natural substances in the skin to help reduce inflammation, brighten skin and support healthy collagen stimulation. It’s well tolerated by all skin types, even sensitive skin and rosacea-prone complexions. 

Specifically it:

  • Regulates oil secretion
  • Visibly minimizes enlarged pores
  • Tightens lax pores
  • Improves uneven skin tone
  • Softens fine lines and wrinkles
  • Diminishes dullness
  • Improves skin’s natural production of skin-strengthening ceramides
  • Reduces moisture loss and dehydration
  • Helps skin repair signs of past damage
  • Boosts the hydrating properties of moisturizers.

What is salicylic acid and what are its benefits?

Unlike niacinamide, which is water soluble, salicylic acid is an oil soluble acid that can penetrate skin and clogged pores. It is a naturally-derived component found in willow bark known for its powerful acne-fighting properties.

 

Spots form beneath the skin’s surface, when there is an excessive build-up of dead skin, then appear on the surface as whiteheads and blackheads. Salicylic acid acts as a natural exfoliant breaking down the ‘glue’ that holds these dead skin cells together. 

 

By clearing the blocked pores, skin is able to release its natural moisturizer – sebum. 

 

As well as penetrating pores, Salicylic acid helps to clear away the dead and dry skin on the surface, preventing the pores getting blocked in the first place. 

 

Salicylic acid has also been shown to have anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. It can therefore help clear up pustules and papules.

 

Specifically it:

 

  • Penetrates deep into the skin with ease
  • Softens and dissolves keratin
  • Breaks down impurities that block pores
  • Dissolves some of the ‘glue’ that holds skin cells together
  • Gently exfoliates the surface of the skin
  • Includes mild anti-inflammatory properties
  • Has antibacterial properties

Can niacinamide and salicylic acid be used together?

The simple answer is yes. They complement each other well. Being oil soluble, salicylic acid can penetrate deeper into the skin layers, but it can also dehydrate and irritate skin. Niacinamide, on the other hand, reduces inflammation and boosts skin’s natural moisturization. 

 

Niacinamide is a very accommodating ingredient. It can mix well with almost all ingredients in your skincare routine (vitamin C is one ingredient that’s not compatible with niacinamide).

 

Niacinamide and salicylic acid offer similar benefits but how they work differs slightly. 

 

Both ingredients deal with increased sebum levels and reduced levels of collagen and elasticity in the skin, evidenced by enlarged pore sizes. Research has shown that topical combinations of both can significantly reduce surface sebum levels and pore size after 12 weeks of use.