Is Niacinamide more effective than Retinol? Evaluating skin care myths

Sometimes it seems like I need to open my chemistry books to understand the ingredients that go into my regular skincare regime but sadly I need to rely on the available sources(authentic of course) to deepen my understandings. Recently I have been really intrigued with Niacianamide. Now this is not something which came into picture recently.It has been there for quite long but I guess in the age of digital marketing this ingredient is getting a lot of attention (for all the right reasons I must say)!!

I will try to answer the following 5 questions that I had in my mind regarding Niacinamide and retinol through this blog.

What is Niacinamide?

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Niacinamide (aka nicotinamide) and Niacin (aka nicotinic acid) are aromatic compounds which function in cosmetics primarily as hair and skin conditioning agents. Niacinamide and Niacin are used in various cosmetic formulations including shampoos, hair tonics, skin moisturizers, and cleansing formulations. The concentration of use of Niacinamide/Niacin varies from a low of 0.0001% in night preparations to a high of 3% in body and hand creams, lotions, powders and sprays. Both ingredients are accepted for use in cosmetics in Japan and the European Union.Overall, these ingredients are non-toxic at levels considerably higher than would be experienced in cosmetic products. Clinical testing confirms that these ingredients are not significant skin irritants, sensitizers or photosensitizers. (Source: Report on safety assessment)

How can we include Niacinamide into our diet?

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Both Niacinamide and Niacin are different forms of Vitamin B3. They just have a little different chemical structure. We actually get Niacinamide through the regular diet we consume e.g. Meat, fish, green veggies, milk, cereals, beans etc. Nothing Fancy! Also, Nicinamide is included in the vitamin B complex supplements as well. There are some early researches which claim that taking tablets containing Niacinamide can be a good way of getting rid of acne, skin irritations and even skin cancer.

Is Niacinamide more effective than Retinol?

I came across a study where a group of women applied 5% Niacinamide containing moisturizer on half of their face for 12 weeks and they saw considerable improvement in therms of fine wrinkles, pigmentation and other signs of ageing. Also, as I mentioned earlier Niacinamide works as anti skin irritant and does not cause skin allergies (atleast not enough evidence on that). On the other hand Retinol helps to replenish skin cells faster and is considered to be a gem for anti-ageing cosmetic industry.But, yes there is a but! It may not be suitable for sensitive skin and may cause initial irritation for new users and only with regular use your skin may get used to it.However, if you are someone like me who will absolutely throw away something which does not feel on the skin for the very first time, you can use this trick of using a Niacinamide based lotion or moisturizer first and then layer it up with Retinol. Also, the point to be noted is that Niacinamide is water based and definitely gives a lot of hydration to our skin.On the other hand Retinol makes the skin peel/shed faster which definitely reduces the hydration level for our skin.So mixing these 2 together into our skin care regime may work wonders but be mindful to be patient to see the results.

Can we substitute Retinol with Niacinamide?

Ideally we can combine both of them for the best results but from my personal experience I can say Niacinamide based lotions or face moisturizers are working great for me.I top it up with retinol based serum only once/twice a week. I have sensitive skin and retinol gave me skin irritaion and pimples around the jaw area when I first used it. With time I feel my skin got used to it and do not give me irritaion anymore.

So that’s all Folks! Hope you found this blog helpful! Stay happy and have a nice day 🙂

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