If you’re expecting, you’ve probably looked through your shower and skin care products wondering what you need to stop using while you’re pregnant. It’s worth it to do a dive into each product’s ingredients because sometimes it’s not clear from the label exactly what’s going on inside the bottle (and if you already threw away the box, you can almost always find full ingredients online). If you come across this ingredient (which is likely as it’s quietly found in many products) you may be wondering if niacinamide is safe for pregnancy. And the good news is that despite its daunting name, niacinamide is one skin care product that’s safe to keep using topically when you’re expecting.
Here, two dermatologists, Dr. Suzanne Friedler, MD, FAAD, dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC and Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and author of Beyond Soap, explain everything you may be wondering about niacinamide and pregnancy.
What is niacinamide?
Simply put, niacinamide is one form of a very common vitamin, B3. “Nicotinic acid (also generally known as niacin) and niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) are effective as a vitamin because they can be converted into each other within the organism. The blanket term vitamin B3 is used for both,” Skotnicki says. It’s found naturally in food (like liver, chicken, and salmon), and it’s also available in supplements and as a topical skin care ingredient. Here we’ll be mainly talking about niacinamide in skin care products.
Is niacinamide pregnancy-safe?
While you’ll probably be getting adequate amounts of the vitamin through your diet (and it may be in your prenatal as well) if you want to supplement with the ingredient, be sure to check with your OB as there haven’t been a ton of well-controlled studies done on the supplement.
However, as a skin care ingredient, niacinamide is totally safe to use. “It’s a vitamin, so it is pregnancy-safe. Niacinamide is often an adjuvant ingredient that’s found in skin care products, so it can safely be used daytime or nighttime, ‘ Friedler says. ‘Adjuvant’ means that it can enhance the effectiveness of other ingredients, so while it may not be the star of the show, niacinamide is kind of like a hype man in many products, helping other ingredients perform optimally.
Because of its anti-acne and anti-aging effects, niacinamide can be a good substitute for retinol in pregnancy. It may also help to lighten dark spots which is good if you’re dealing with pesky pregnancy-related melasma.
Benefits of niacinamide
“In aging skin, topical application of niacinamide improves the surface structure [and] smoothes out wrinkles. It [can] demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects in acne and rosacea,” Skotnicki says. Friedler adds that it’s becoming more and more popular as skin care ingredient because it’s an antioxidant, helps support the creation of healthy skin cells, and it makes other ingredients more tolerable.” It calms down the skin, lowers inflammation, and makes skin less itchy and more comfortable. Even medical strength products will compound niacinamide with, for example, Tretinoin, which is known to be quite irritating, but the niacinamide will help calm that down,” she says.
Friedler also adds that for those experiencing pellagra, which the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology defines as a systemic disorder resulting from a vitamin B3 deficiency, will likely need to take oral niacinamide. Skotnicki tells Romper that niacinamide “inhibits photocarcinogenesis” which means it can be helpful at preventing skin cancer, and studies back this up, though it’s important to note that the study was on oral niacinamide and SPF is still a must!
Expert-recommended products with niacinamide
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Frielder recommends Roc and La Roche Posay products. Roc has a retinol serum cleanser which contains niacinamide (retinol is not pregnancy-safe but it’s good to keep in mind after you stop breastfeeding). Other gentle, pregnancy-safe niacinamide products include Acure Radically Rejuvenating Niacinamide Serum and Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops.
Rest assured that niacinamide is one product you can definitely keep using topically in pregnancy; it may even help with pregnancy acne or hyperpigmentation, and if nothing else, it’ll help your skin stay hydrated.
Chen A, et al. The New England Journal of Medicine. A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmoa1506197
Dr. Suzanne Friedler, MD FAAD, dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC
Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and author of Beyond Soap