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Asian Skincare Ingredient 101: Niacinamide

I’m going to get straight to the point. I LOVE niacinamide. I honestly don’t think there’s a single skincare ingredient that has had such a positive impact on my skin (besides my prescriptions). I mean, she’s truly that girl and gives us what needs to be given.

So, you might be wondering...what is niacinamide exactly? And how does it help my skin? Well, allow me to explain. Keep scrolling for the 411 on niacinamide and my favorite products with this miracle ingredient.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3, a nutrient that is essential to our body’s function. When it comes to skin, niacinamide truly, and honestly does it all. Don’t believe me? Let’s list benefits.

Benefits of niacinamide

  • Helps resurface the skin for an even, smoother glow
  • Increases keratin production for firmer skin
  • Decreases the size of your pores
  • Reduces wrinkles and fine lines
  • Can decrease and treat acne
  • Hydrates the skin and protects it from moisture loss
  • Helps fight hyperpigmentation
  • Evens out skin tone while simultaneously brightening it
  • Balances oil production
  • Reduces redness and inflammation

See? I told you, niacinamide is like the queen of skincare. All skin types can benefit from it and it shouldn’t pose a problem to those with sensitive skin. In fact, it might help!

How often can you use niacinamide?

You’d expect that for an ingredient to do all of the above, it must be some high-powered stuff you can only use every once in a while. But au contraire mon amie, niacinamide is gentle enough to be used every day, both AM and PM after cleansing. And you can even use niacinamide in multiple products—there’s really no such thing as overdoing it. For example, my toner, serum, and even moisturizer on most days all contain niacinamide. You can even use it straight up—companies now make serums with 10 and even 20 percent niacinamide for especially stubborn skin. As always, you’ll want to use sunscreen (but you already knew that!),

Want to know my fave niacinamide products? I’ve reviewed them below!


Naruko Taiwan Magnolia Brightening and Firming Toner

Naruko Taiwan Magnolia Brightening and Firming Toner

This toner is that girl, point blank period. In addition to our bae niacinamide, it’s formulated with vitamin C for an extra dose of brightening, snow fungus extract that helps deeply hydrate the skin, tripeptides that help firm sagging skin, tranexamic acid to help fight hyperpigmentation, and finally, Taiwan magnolia bark extract that helps prevent premature aging and protects the skin from skin damage. It has a wonderfully viscous texture and feels so incredibly nice on the skin—it’s seriously like your skin is taking a big drink of toner water. I noticed a big improvement in my skin tone and texture within the first week of using it day and night. My makeup went on better, my skin looking more glowy, and I also noticed a big difference with texture too.


Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide

Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide

This serum is a match made in heaven. Propolis + my skin = *muah* chef’s kiss, and then you add in niacinamide? Perfection. This serum is designed to brighten skin while soothing, calming, and offering a ton of anti-inflammatory benefits. The propolis extract (at a whopping 60% of the formulation, I might add) is chock full of antioxidants that can help protect your skin against sun damage, premature aging, and help fight pesky free radicals. Niacinamide, of course, brings on the glow. The texture of this serum is similar to watery honey, it’s not quite as thick as honey, but it’s not watery like a toner. Bonus points for being fragrance-free (if that’s your jam) and also paraben and mineral oil free.

Sheryll Donerson using the Beauty of Joseon Beauty of Joseon Glow Serum: Propolis + Niacinamide

I used this after my toner day and night and it worked wonderfully with all my other skincare products—no pilling in sight. While I used it both AM and PM, I liked using it a night a little better since the texture is a little thick.

Holy Snails Double Shark

I cannot stress to you enough how much you need this serum in your life. Like, immediately. When Holy Snails debuted, I lived in SE Asia and I couldn’t get my hands on any of the products and I cannot tell you how jealous I was. But now, baby? I’M HERE AND I’M IN LOVE. Holy Snails Double Shark is made with double the amount of niacinamide than the Holy Snails Shark Sauce, making it the one to get if you want a mega-dose of brightening and hyperpigmentation busting. Out of all the products I tried, I think this is the one that had the most intense, very visible brightening effect. Before I started using this, I had a smattering of very stubborn post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation on my chin from some hormonal acne that just would not get it together. After about two weeks of using this daily (sometimes twice a day), my PIH was significantly better. I now only need a little drop of concealer around my chin, and overall, my complexion is much smoother and clearer. I literally cannot say enough great things about this serum. It’s absolutely everything.

Haruharu WONDER Honey Green Brilliant Cream

Haruharu WONDER Honey Green Brilliant Cream

If you’re looking for a great moisturizer for the daytime (or night!), this one by Haruharu is the one. First of all, the packaging is wonderful and so cute. It looks like a tiny little to-go coffee cup (as a self-proclaimed coffee addict, this appeals to my interest) and houses a whole lot of product. The texture is a lightweight milky cream that sinks beautifully into the skin, leaving you with a fresh, yet hydrated glow. I love to wear this cream on days when I’m wearing makeup, because it’s lightweight enough to not feel heavy under foundation or tinted moisturizer, and also gives you a dewy look so you don’t look flat. If you’re more oily skinned or acne-prone, this is going to be a winner for you.

Ingredients wise, you know it’s got some niacinamide in the formula for a brightening boost. There’s also fermented green tea *with* honey, a combination that protects the skin against free radicals and environmental stressors while offering skin repairing and soothing benefits.