Can Niacinamide Cause Acne?

Can Niacinamide Cause Acne

Niacinamide is one of the most talked about and hyped components in skincare and beauty products recently. It has blown the beauty world with its high efficacy and advantages. Targeting common skin issues like acne and hyperpigmentation (1), niacinamide can work wonders on different skin types. At the same time, it has the ability to treat dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

However, despite all the benefits that it offers, people often question can niacinamide causes acne.

If you are using it for the first time and in a dilemma after reading the mixed comments on the internet, keep reading to find answers to all your queries. The article will explain the science behind niacinamide, how it works, and if it can cause acne in certain skin types.

What is Niacinamide?


Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin B3 and is composed of niacin (also known as nicotinic acid) and its amide, also known as nicotinamide (2). It is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (3). Often, niacinamide is found in skin care products that are applied topically and as oral supplements. 

Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, niacinamide is used to reduce swelling and redness on the skin. Besides, it is a potent component that combats skin dehydration and increases its protective ability, minimizing hyperpigmentation. At the same time, this component can reduce sebum production, which may cause acne and clogged pores. 

With immense benefits, serums and other skin care products that contain niacinamide are used to treat skin conditions such as:

  • acne
  • rosacea
  • autoimmune skin conditions
  • hyperpigmentation
  • atopic dermatitis

How Does Niacinamide Work?

How does niacinamide work

Niacinamide is reported to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin. Since collagen contributes to skin elasticity by offering structural support, the increased amount helps skin stay young and wrinkle-free. 

Moreover, being an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals that have the power to damage skin cells and cause premature aging. Also, it protects the skin from environmental damage. 

Now, getting back to the question, can niacinamide cause acne?

Usually, it is seen that every skin type is able to tolerate niacinamide as it is a mild and gentle ingredient. However, some people have complained about it causing breakouts. While breakouts are different from acne, the two terms are often used interchangeably. 

While acne is a chronic skin condition encompassing a wide range of skin issues such as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, cysts, and nodules, breakouts are the sudden appearance of blemishes on the skin.

Although research suggests that niacinamide has nothing that can trigger acne or breakouts, some people have experienced it after using products infused with this component and blamed it for their skin condition.

Does Niacinamide Cause Acne?

Usually, acne happens when skin pores get clogged due to excess sebum and dirt, clogged hair follicles, or accumulation of dead skin cells. Bacterial growth, hormonal changes, and dietary and environmental reasons are other contributing factors that lead to acne. 

Likewise, breakouts happen when an ingredient in a skincare product increases the turnover rate of skin cells, which exposes new skin cells and healthy skin

However, as we have already mentioned, niacinamide has the property to reduce sebum production; it cannot cause acne. Likewise, the property of this component to improve skin hydration keeps the skin healthy and free from all types of blemishes. 

Here, one thing that needs attention is niacinamide doesn’t have the ability to increase skin cell turnover, so the possibility of it causing breakout cannot be ruled out completely. However, a study (4) has concluded that due to anti-inflammatory properties and anti-sebum effects, niacinamide can reduce pustules, a feature of breakouts. 

All in all, it can be concluded that there is not enough evidence to indicate the negative effects of niacinamide on the skin. In fact, every study suggests that it is a gentle ingredient, very well tolerated by the skin, with no adverse reaction when used mindfully.

When Can Niacinamide Affect The Skin Negatively?

Not just niacinamide but every other skin care ingredient which, when used in more than the desired amount, can lead to some adverse reaction. In fact, a simple moisturizer, when used in excess, can lead to acne on certain skin types.  

People who have complained of skin irritation, dryness, and redness are found to be using high concentrations of niacinamide, which is around 10%. Therefore, it is advised to use the niacinamide products in the prescribed quantity, usually in a lower potency (4 to 5%). 

The recommended dose should be followed strictly, especially when using it for the first time, so that the product stays easy on the skin and the skin adjusts slowly to this new component without showing any adverse effects.  

Another reason for a product with niacinamide causing breakouts is the presence of retinol in them. When a skin care product contains a combination of niacinamide and retinol, the chances of acne increase, and retinol can be blamed for it alone. 

What Should You Do When Niacinamide Causes Acne Or Breakout?

If you experience bumps or skin irritation after using niacinamide, here is what is recommended:

  1. Look out for comedogenic ingredients, such as oleic acid, present in the product. 
  2. Check if the product contains retinol. 
  3. Stop using the product, and do not scrub over the bumps. 
  4. Do not touch or pick the acne.
  5. Do not use any other skin care product until irritation calms down. 

When To Seek Medical Help?

If skin irritation persists for long and bumps erupt on the skin after using niacinamide, visit a dermatologist. An experienced skin specialist will check the other ingredients present in your product and see if any of them are unsuitable for your skin type. 

Besides, visit a dermatologist if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • intense burning
  • severe redness or pain
  • bleeding
  • signs of a skin infection, like pus
  • a widespread rash
  • irritation that persists even with a doctor’s treatment


Before using any new ingredient, we often question its effectiveness, including risks and side effects. Therefore, questioning if niacinamide can cause acne is valid enough from a beginner’s point of view. Now that we have cleared that this component has nothing to do with acne or breakouts, especially when used in the right amount, people in a dilemma can start using it without any quandary. 

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