Is niacinamide safe for pregnancy? How to use skin care ingredient

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably been browsing through your shower and skin care products wondering what to stop using while pregnant. It’s worth digging into the ingredients of each product because sometimes the label doesn’t say exactly what’s going on inside the bottle (and if you’ve already thrown away the box, you can almost always find all ingredients online). If you come across this ingredient (which is probably the case in many products), you may be wondering if niacinamide is safe for pregnancy. And the good news is that despite its discouraging name, niacinamide is a safe skincare product that can be used when you’re pregnant.

Here, two dermatologists, Dr. Suzanne Friedler, MD, FAAD, dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC and Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and author of Beyond the soap, explain everything you may be wondering about niacinamide and pregnancy.

What is niacinamide?

Simply put, niacinamide is a form of a very common vitamin, B3. “Nicotinic acid (also known as niacin) and niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) are effective as vitamins because they can be converted into each other in the body. The general term vitamin B3 is used for both,” says Skotnicki. It’s found naturally in foods (like liver, chicken, and salmon), and it’s also available in supplements and as a topical skincare ingredient. Here we will mainly talk about niacinamide in skin care products.

Is niacinamide safe for pregnancy?

Although you’ll likely get adequate amounts of the vitamin through your diet (and it may also be in your prenatal) if you want to supplement with the ingredient, be sure to check with your OB as there are none. There haven’t been a ton of well-controlled studies done on the supplement.

However, as a skincare ingredient, niacinamide is completely safe to use. “It’s a vitamin, so it’s safe for pregnancy. Niacinamide is often an adjuvant ingredient found in skincare products, so it’s safe to use day-to-day. night,” says Friedler. “Adjuvant” means 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 work optimally.

Due to its anti-acne and anti-aging effects, niacinamide can be a good substitute for retinol during pregnancy. It can also help lighten dark spots, which is good if you’re dealing with pesky pregnancy-related melasma.

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Benefits of Niacinamide

“In aging skin, topical application of niacinamide improves surface structure [and] smoothes wrinkles. This [can] demonstrate anti-inflammatory effects in acne and rosacea,” says Skotnicki. Friedler adds that it’s becoming increasingly popular as a skincare ingredient because it’s an antioxidant, helps support the creation of healthy skin cells, and makes other ingredients more tolerable. “It calms the skin, reduces inflammation and makes the skin less irritating and more comfortable. Even medical strength products will combine niacinamide with, for example, tretinoin, which is known to be quite irritating, but niacinamide will help calm it down,” she said.

Friedler also adds that for those who live pellagra, which the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology defines as a systemic disorder resulting from vitamin B3 deficiency, will likely need to take niacinamide by mouth. Skotnicki tells Romper that niacinamide “inhibits photocarcinogenesis,” meaning it may be helpful in preventing skin cancer, and studies confirm italthough it is important to note that the study was on oral niacinamide and that SPF is still a must!

Products recommended by experts with niacinamide

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Frielder recommends Roc and La Roche Posay products. Roc offers a retinol cleansing serum that contains niacinamide (retinol isn’t safe for pregnancy, but it’s good to keep in mind after you stop breastfeeding). Other mild and safe niacinamide products for pregnancy include Acure Radically Rejuvenating Niacinamide Serum and Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops.

Rest assured that niacinamide is a product that you can definitely continue to use topically during pregnancy; it can even help with pregnancy acne or hyperpigmentation, and if nothing else, it will help your skin stay hydrated.

Referenced studies:

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

Experts:

dr. Suzanne Friedler, MD FAAD, dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC

Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, dermatologist and author of Beyond the soap

Patricia J. Callender