Niacinamide and Zinc: Benefits and Side Effects

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Niacinamide and zinc are both powerful ingredients that have been used separately in skincare products for decades. But it’s only recently that they’ve become popular together as a powerhouse combo.

Their incredible synergistic effect works wonders on every skin type, addressing a variety of issues from hyperpigmentation to acne and beyond.

This article discusses everything you need to know about niacinamide and zinc, including how to use them together. But before we dig deep, let’s get down to basics and talk about what each one does individually.

What Is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that you can find in various foods such as meat, whole grains, fish, milk, yeast, and legumes. It is commonly marketed in cosmetic products under the names nicotinamide or vitamin B3.

According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, niacinamide is one of the most effective forms of vitamin B3 for improving aging skin.

Niacinamide relieves dryness, flaking, and itching by promoting hydration in the upper layer of the skin. It also helps to repair and strengthen the epidermis.

This is one of the main reasons why niacinamide is added to serums and anti-aging creams. It works by promoting ceramide production, which helps maintain the skin’s barrier function.

Niacinamide also regulates oil production and provides antioxidant benefits, which help protect against environmental damage caused by free radicals.

You can find niacinamide in many creams, lotions, gels, and ointments in the market today. The purpose of these topical applications is to enhance the appearance of the skin by improving its tone and texture.

What Are the Benefits of Using Niacinamide?

Fewer aging signs

Niacinamide helps to keep the skin free of damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that cause premature aging. It also slows down cell aging processes to keep skin looking younger and healthier.

Acne treatment

Niacinamide helps reduce oil production and inflammation, making it an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate acne. However, it’s not as effective as benzoyl peroxide or retinoic acid, which are treatments for more severe cases of acne.

Increased collagen production

Collagen is a protein that keeps skin firm and elastic, but as we age, our bodies produce less collagen. Topical application of niacinamide can help increase collagen production, leading to firmer skin and fewer fine lines and wrinkles.

Even skin tone

Niacinamide is an effective skin-lightening ingredient that inhibits melanin transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. This helps reduce skin discolorations like dark spots caused by sun exposure.

Reduced pore appearance

Niacinamide may help to minimize the appearance of enlarged pores by encouraging healthy cell turnover, which promotes a smoother surface texture.

Treatment for skin conditions

Niacinamide helps treat a variety of skin conditions, including rosacea, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis. It also helps to strengthen the skin barrier, which keeps moisture in and irritants out.

Side Effects of Using Niacinamide

The Mayo Clinic states that niacinamide might cause adverse side effects in some people, such as rashes or flushing. If you are going to use this vitamin on your skin, it is advisable to follow your doctor’s advice to avoid these side effects.

In addition to these possible side effects, there are other reasons why you should seek medical advice before using niacinamide. Those who are using other antioxidants like vitamin C should not use niacinamide without talking to their doctor first.

Also, if you are taking blood-thinning medications or have liver problems, you should consult a doctor before using niacinamide.

What Is Zinc?

Zinc is a trace mineral, which means your body doesn’t produce it on its own. You need to get zinc from the food you eat, supplements, and skincare products.

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a vital role in the health and appearance of your skin. It helps brighten the skin by clearing up dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Additionally, zinc plays a role in the production of a powerful antioxidant in the body called glutathione. This substance prevents free radical damage that can lead to premature aging and wrinkles.

Because it promotes healing, zinc can be particularly helpful for acne-prone faces. It helps decrease the severity of pimples, leaving behind clearer skin with fewer scars. It’s also used in topical treatments for sunburns.

Treatments with zinc are best when followed with moisturizers containing ceramides or niacinamide, which help restore the lipid barrier of the skin.

What Are the Benefits of Using Zinc?

Reduced inflammation

Inflammation is one of the most common symptoms of skin conditions like eczema and rosacea. Zinc helps ease inflammation by attacking its root cause (infection or irritation) rather than simply suppressing symptoms.

Acne treatment

Acne is a condition that causes pimples on the face, chest, shoulders, and back. Several factors can cause acne, but they all have one thing in common – the overproduction of oil by the skin’s sebaceous glands.

Zinc helps keep your skin clear because it reduces the amount of oil produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands, resulting in fewer blocked pores and blemishes.

Treatment for skin conditions

Zinc is effective in treating other conditions such as psoriasis, which is a common form of skin inflammation resulting from the overproduction of skin cells. It is also effective in treating rosacea, a common skin condition that causes redness on the cheeks and nose.

Reduced pore size

Zinc helps with oil production (it prevents the overproduction or underproduction of oil in the skin). This helps pores stay clear of excess oil and dirt, which can lead to breakouts and enlarged pores.

Antioxidant protection

As an antioxidant, zinc can protect your skin from environmental damage caused by free radicals. This slows down the aging process of your skin, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, and hyperpigmentation.

Side Effects of Using Zinc

When used appropriately, zinc is generally safe to use on the skin. Although rare, some people can have side effects from using topical treatments containing zinc.

The most common side effect of zinc is that it can lead to copper deficiency. Copper is an essential mineral that helps with red blood cell production and nerve function.

Zinc and copper compete for absorption in the body, so when you use high concentrations of zinc, copper may become deficient. However, you would have to use high concentrations of topical zinc for this to occur.

Additionally, some skincare products containing zinc may cause dryness. If you have dry skin, you should consult your physician before using any products that contain this mineral.

Zinc can also cause contact dermatitis in some people who are sensitive to it. Contact dermatitis is a type of allergic reaction that shows up as a rash on your skin after you touch something you’re allergic to.

Can You Use Niacinamide With Zinc?

Yes, you can. They work together to restore and rejuvenate the skin, which is why you often see them paired together in serums.

Niacinamide and zinc work well together because they create a chemical reaction in the body which helps to treat several skin concerns. They both provide antioxidant protection, which helps prevent premature aging signs such as wrinkles and fine lines.

Treatments containing both niacinamide and zinc are also beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin. This is because they help to calm down any inflammation or irritation while reducing oil production in the skin.

So if you’re dealing with acne breakouts or other skin issues, look for a serum that contains both ingredients. This will help soothe your skin, reduce oiliness and improve your overall skin texture and tone.

How to Use Niacinamide and Zinc Together

As a combined product

Experts often recommend using a product that contains both niacinamide and zinc. These products often contain other ingredients like glycerin, which helps niacinamide and zinc penetrate the skin more deeply.

As such, many products that contain both ingredients will also contain another ingredient (usually glycerin) for this purpose.

Layer your products

If you’re worried about using a product containing both niacinamide and zinc, you can buy separate products and layer them during your routine. You’ll have to decide which concentrations are best for you based on how your skin reacts to niacinamide and zinc.

As a general rule, products with a low percentage of niacinamide or zinc are safe for all skin types. But if your skin can tolerate it, gradually increase the concentration of each ingredient over time.

Alternate your products

If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to use niacinamide and zinc at alternate times, as they can cause irritations in sensitive skin types. You can use niacinamide serum in the morning, zinc serum at night, and vice versa.

You can also try other products like toners, masks, or lotions to see what works best for your skin since each product has different concentrations of active ingredients.

Treating Hyperpigmentation With Niacinamide and Zinc

When you have hyperpigmentation, you are basically dealing with an overproduction of melanin in the body. Melanin is responsible for the pigments found in your hair and skin.

When this pigment becomes overproduced in the skin, dark patches of color start appearing on your skin. Niacinamide reduces the appearance of these dark patches by inhibiting melanin production in the epidermis (top layer of skin).

Zinc enhances the results of niacinamide on hyperpigmentation by fighting damaging free radicals in the body. This helps reduce uneven skin tone and blotchiness caused by environmental factors like sun damage and pollution.

Treating Acne With Niacinamide and Zinc

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead cells; it usually appears on the face, forehead, chest, and back.

Niacinamide and zinc can help treat and prevent acne by regulating sebum production, increasing hydration, and reducing inflammation. Zinc also helps to balance the skin’s pH level and keeps it free from bacteria.

If you experience acne breakouts often, you should strongly consider using niacinamide and zinc in your skincare routine; your skin will thank you later.


Can you use moisturizer after niacinamide and zinc?

Yes, you can. Using a moisturizer is the next step after applying niacinamide and zinc. Moisturizer seals in the niacinamide and zinc so they can penetrate your skin, and help keep it soft and hydrated.

And if you are applying niacinamide and zinc during the day, remember to use sunscreen 30 minutes before going out to make sure your skin is fully protected from UV rays.

Can you use niacinamide and zinc every day?

Yes, you can. Just be careful not to increase the frequency at which you use them too quickly. These ingredients work best when you slowly increase your usage frequency over time.

You can buy niacinamide and zinc separately or purchase them together in a single moisturizing product. As always, ensure to do a patch test before starting any new treatment for your skin for the first time.

Is niacinamide good for dry skin?

Yes, it is. Niacinamide is especially good for dry skin because it helps improve the barrier function of the skin, thereby preventing moisture loss.

Niacinamide does this by increasing ceramide production in your skin. Ceramides are the lipids responsible for keeping your skin hydrated by acting as a barrier between your skin cells and the outside environment.


Niacinamide and zinc are effective skin-restoring ingredients that offer multiple benefits for aging and blemish-prone skin. These benefits include treating acne and improving the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, and wrinkles.

Unlike other skincare ingredients, niacinamide and zinc can be used on all skin types, including sensitive skin types. So if you are looking to fight acne, uneven skin tone, and signs of aging, niacinamide and zinc are perfect for you.

Thanks for reading.

Visit Serum101 to learn more about niacinamide and zinc and how they can benefit your skin.