Most of us have experienced walking into a supermarket, pharmacy, or beauty retail store and seeing aisles upon aisles of unfamiliar moisturizers and serums.
To make matters worse, they often contain ingredients with confusing, scientific sounding names that leave us quite overwhelmed!
This naturally may lead you to wonder: “What exactly are these ingredients that I'm putting on my skin?”
The skin is our body's first line of defense against damage and pollutants, which is why we need to make sure we are properly looking after it.
The first step is to know what it is exactly we are applying, as well as the effect of these ingredients.
Hyaluronic acid and Niacinamide have recently become very popular ingredients in numerous skincare products, leaving many of us wondering, “What do they actually do?"
We’re going to help to answer all of your questions surrounding Niacinamide and Hyaluronic acid, and give you the guidance you need when it comes to implementing these actives into your skincare routine!
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What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3- an essential nutrient in cell function that can be found in many foods or applied topically onto the skin.
This ingredient has been shown to have many benefits, such as:
- Moisturizing the skin
- Improving collagen production and skin evenness, and
- Strengthening the skin barrier and providing anti-aging effects.
Niacinamide is a powerful antioxidant which can help to decrease hyperpigmentation and skin aging processes by relieving oxidative stress caused by sun exposure, pollution and toxins.
It’s also used in treatment of skin conditions such as acne, as it stops oil glands from going into overdrive and is a potent anti-inflammatory.
In other words, this is a wonder ingredient for anti-aging and prevention of premature aging!
However, do always keep in mind that this ingredient is best used along with SPF sunscreen to enhance performance against sun damage.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid, also called hyaluronan or hyaluronate, is naturally produced in the body with many properties. So what exactly does Hyaluronic acid do?
Hyaluronic acid lubricates joints allowing for easy and smooth movement, preventing bones from grinding directly over each other.
The benefits of hyaluronic acid don’t just stop at the joints either, as it can have incredible effects on your skin too!
This ingredient helps skin stay firm and flexible as it aids in keeping our skin tissues well-hydrated with amazing water retention abilities- effectively attracting and holding moisture in the skin!
However, the amount of hyaluronic acid our body produces decreases as we age, causing our skin to be more susceptible to signs of aging such as wrinkles and sagging.
But don't you worry: Applying hyaluronic acid directly onto your skin does the trick too!
The powerful hydrating effect of hyaluronic acid comes with many benefits when applied topically to the skin, including exceptional moisturizing ability, anti-wrinkle effects, as well as increasing skin elasticity and plumpness.
Hyaluronic acid is also key in tissue regeneration, helping with wound healing as well as reducing bacterial growth and inflammation- which may be particularly helpful if you have acne-prone skin.
Niacinamide vs Hyaluronic Acid: What's the difference between the two?
Both Hyaluronic acid and Niacinamide are great moisturizers with anti-aging properties, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helping to keep the skin healthy.
However, each of these ingredients hydrate the skin in slightly different ways.
The skin barrier is held together with lipids that help to prevent water loss and protects your body against pollutants.
Niacinamide can improve and strengthen the skin barrier by increasing the level of lipids, while hyaluronic acid helps in retaining skin moisture by increasing the amount of water in the skin cells.
Niacinamide’s antioxidant effects can help to prevent UV damage, which is known to be the biggest cause of premature skin aging. Therefore, the ingredient can be used in the prevention of premature fine lines and wrinkles, as well as helping to even pigmentation.
As our skin ages and the amount of naturally produced Hyaluronic acid decreases (making skin more dry), topically applied Hyaluronic acid can help to rejuvenate and hydrate skin to increase skin elasticity and reduce signs of aging.
There has been more research into the anti-aging ability of Niacinamide to reduce fine lines and wrinkles compared to Hyaluronic acid.
However, at the end of the day, deciding which of these ingredients to add to your skin routine depends on the goals you are trying to achieve, and the concerns you may have when it comes to your skin!
Can they be used together?
Yes! If you just can't decide which of the actives would be best for you- or simply want the beneficial effects of both- you can use them together.
When used together, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic acid will bring out the best in the other by providing your skin with the benefits of both ingredients.
A combination of both ingredients can decrease the effects of aging, hydrate the skin, and leave you with a healthy, glowing complexion.
How to use them together
There are many ways in which you can approach Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid.
For instance, you could use products that have both ingredients already mixed in together, or layer them on top of each other separately instead. You may also choose to use one in the morning, and the other at night.
When using Hyaluronic acid, make sure to apply while your skin is damp to ensure the best hydration result.
Because of this, it's often best to apply Hyaluronic acid first onto damp skin and allow it to dry slightly before adding Niacinamide on top. If applying in the morning, make sure you also apply SPF sunscreen for the best results!
If you want to introduce Niacinamide or Hyaluronic acid into your skincare routine, start with a lower percentage to see how your skin responds and reduce the risk of unwanted reactions.
Keep in mind that trying these products on your skin for the first time at high concentration can lead to irritation (particularly for people who have more sensitive skin).
Start slow and ease your way into new skincare routines- and your skin will be sure to thank you!
Our Product Recommendations
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Serum has everyone on the internet head over heels, so it must be doing something right. It's an affordable option that absorbs rapidly into the skin with great results.
La Roche Posay Pure Niacinamide 10% Serum is another favorite, leaving skin looking bright and stunning following consistent use.
Paula’s choice 10% Niacinamide Booster Serum also works wonders, and while it is more expensive, the result is definitely worth it.
Essano Intense Hydration Hyaluronic Acid Serum is New Zealand-made, has a light feel, and is cruelty-free. All of that, as well as leaving you with glowing skin!
La Roche-Posay is on this list twice for a reason, with its Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Aging Serum which is perfect for sensitive and dry skin types.
CeraVe Hydrating Hyaluronic Acid Serum is particularly suitable for acne-prone skin, and is affordable even if you’re on a budget.
Finally, if you’re looking for a product that combines both ingredients, Pal’s Skin Lab 5% Niacinamide Anti-Blemish Serum containing Hyaluronic Acid and aloe vera is the way to go! It’s vegan and cruelty-free, and has an impressively nourishing and soothing effect on the skin.
 Boo Y. Mechanistic Basis and Clinical Evidence for the Applications of Nicotinamide (Niacinamide) to Control Skin Aging and Pigmentation. Antioxidants. 2021;10(8):1315. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox10081315
 Zhen A, Piao M, Kang K et al. Niacinamide Protects Skin Cells from Oxidative Stress Induced by Particulate Matter. Biomolecules & Therapeutics. 2019;27(6):562-569. https://doi.org/10.4062/biomolther.2019.061
 Walocko F, Eber A, Keri J, AL-Harbi M, Nouri K. The role of nicotinamide in acne treatment. Dermatol Ther. 2017;30(5):e12481. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.12481
 Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):253-258. https://doi.org/10.4161/derm.21923
 Litwiniuk M, Krejner A, Speyrer MS, Gauto AR, Grzela T. Hyaluronic Acid in Inflammation and Tissue Regeneration. Wounds. 2016 Mar;28(3):78-88. PMID: 26978861.