Niacinamide vs Niacin: Which Is Better For Our Skin?

Last modified: Saturday, Jun 22, 2019

Daisy Marie Clay

Author: Daisy Marie Clay

When it comes to improving the appearance of, or treating our skin, Vitamin B3 has gained an immense reputation for good reason…

What you need to know about Vitamin B3 is that Nicotinamide and Niacin are the two main forms of B3, but are they equal when it comes to our skin?

Nicotinamide (or Niacinamide) is directly involved in replenishing our bodies levels of Niacin. With Niacin not being able to be stored in the body, we have to replenish it. This can be done from Nicotinamide, Nicotinic Acid or the conversion of tryptophan, an amino-acid in to Nicotinic Acid.

So when it comes to skincare, whether for treating acne or as a general part of your regimen the two are not equal.

Differences Between Niacinamide & Niacin

There are some key differences between these two types of B3 Vitamins. In order to go over the key points it’s easiest to simply cover them both one at a time.

Niacinamide (Nicotinamide)


Nicotinamide (NAM) better known as Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3. An organic compound found in food and used as a dietary supplement and medication.


Niacinamide is mainly used orally as a supplement or medication, however it is also increasingly used topically for treating skin conditions such as acne. As an oral medication it has been used for treating Pellagra.

One of the main differences between Niacinamide and Niacin is that Niacinamide doesn’t have vasodilation properties. Meaning that unlike Niacin, it isn’t used for treating blood lipid issues.

Niacinamide has many benefits for our skin beyond being an acne treatment, which is why we have seen more products hitting the shelves over the last few years.

Side Effects

There are minimal side-effects associated with Niacinamide. As a medication and supplement it has the added benefit of not causing skin flushing.

The main downside with taking this medication orally is that in higher doses it can be slightly hepatotoxic (harmful to the liver). Regardless of it being an OTC (Over The Counter) medication, you should still always consult a GP prior to use.

When used topically there are no known side-effects, however there are some small contraindications with Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) and so they shouldn’t be applied at the same time.



Niacin also known as Nicotinic Acid is a form of Vitamin B3. An organic compound, an essential human nutrient and a precursor of NAD and NADP.


Niacin is mainly taken orally as a supplement or medication. The main uses for Niacin are to treat illnesses such as Pellagra. Unlike Niacinamide, Niacin has been shown to be effective in the treatment of various diseases, such as some types of heart disease. There is inconclusive evidence when it comes to treatment of Acne.

Side Effects

Niacin has a known side-effect called flushing of the skin. This isn’t to be mistaken with purging. Flushing can be uncomfortable, as well as causing redness of the skin. This has been shown to get worse when ingesting alcohol as well as Niacin.


Both Niacin and Niacinamide play a role in the production of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD). NAD is a B3-coenzyme, and has been increasingly touted as a possible anti-aging chemical. How or if this more recent finding will affect the skin is currently unknown.

NAD has also been linked as having possible anti-anxiety and depression benefits.

Which Is Better For Our Skin

When it comes to skincare we have pretty good evidence to point to the answer. Niacin is mainly used orally and usage of this has little evidence to suggest any benefits to acne. There is also a pretty significant issue in terms of the main side-effect of Niacin usage… That being the skin flushing.

With Niacinamide we know that while this can be used orally, but it is also used topically… With many companies creating an assortment of niacinamide products such as serums, lotions and others.

Suggested: The Ordinary Niacinamide Review

So overall if you are looking to use one or the other for skin, it looks like brand dollars are going into Niacinamide. With all of the research, unsurprisingly suggesting that this is the right direction to be going in.

If you are looking to use Niacin for skin. Think again. If you are looking to use Niacin for some other health related reason, always consult your GP first.