The 3 Roles of Niacinamide In My Hormonal Acne Battle

I was constantly Googling and searching the web for the best ingredients + products to calm hormonal acne but at some point, I got so caught up in the active ingredients that would treat existing spots (like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxide etc.) that I forgot about preserving the overall health of my skin, thus, preventing hormonal acne from appearing.

This flawed thinking led to a point late last year where I pared down my routine (at the suggestion of someone who has acne problem too) by eliminating some products from it, including the niacinamide by The Ordinary, thinking my skin might appreciate the toned down routine.

Read: My skincare routine post from last year that included The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%; my skincare routine had to change at the start of this year but retains most of the products from that post

And, ooh, was that a mistake; my skin took a turn for the worse so I immediately added the niacinamide back in! I then realized I needed to delve into understanding why exactly my beauty routine needed niacinamide after all.

So, what exactly can niacinamide potentially do for one's skin?
These are three roles niacinamide plays that I think has been crucial in my hormonal acne battle:

1. Regulates the skin's oil production

One of the main causes of hormonal acne is the overproduction of sebum (oil) so it makes perfect sense that niacinamide would be a real power player in combating hormonal acne.

2. Strengthens skin barrier function that helps lock moisture in the skin while keeping irritants out

I was oily as a teenager but as I aged, my skin became dehydrated-oily-combination. I realized that the reason my face kept turning into an oil slick was that it was dehydrated and was desperately compensating for the lack of moisture by producing more sebum. The moisturizer I used and still do was fine but turns out my skin was having trouble retaining moisture.

(There's a myth — or more of an old wives tale — that oily skin doesn't need much moisturization: this is NOT true.)

3. Calms the inflammatory nature of acne

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that has anti-inflammatory properties that helps reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne. I wish I could say I no longer get pimples but I obviously still do, only they're not the deep-within, no-head painful type I used to struggle with — big yay for me!

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With so many wonderful qualities to offer, I now know it was a mistake to take niacinamide out of my beauty regimen in the first place. Along my journey in creating a new regimen for my skin, I learned of this skincare-layering method called "sandwiching", which is to apply two products with the same main ingredient together in one routine but with a different product added in between. 

I was intrigued enough to experiment with it by adding a niacinamide-based toner to my daytime routine since I'm such a niacinamide enthusiast now! So, what I do now: I apply Paula's Choice Pore-Reducing Toner right after I cleansed my face, followed by a salicylic acid product, and then apply The Ordinary's niacinamide before moisturizing.

It has been months since I started "sandwiching" my niacinamides and so far, it has worked wondrously for me.

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The skincare routine I shared last year (via the link above) worked wonderfully in calming my hormonal acne but my skin somehow always "adapts" accordingly to the products I use after some time, which is why I've created a different regimen for daytime and nighttime this year.

Dare I say, my routine right now works even better than last year's routine so I really, really, REALLY hope it continues to be effective for the longest time! Ultimately, it's about knowing my own skin and understanding what it's trying to communicate to me (especially because I don't have the budget to see a good dermatologist who can communicate my skin's concerns to me!).

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Thank you for reading this post! I hope my personal skin story can be beneficial to you in one way or another.
Be well, be safe, wherever you are around the world ❤

PS: Here are some bonus pics of my furbabies investigating the strange items on "their" carpet, enjoy!

Note: Unsure if the "skin adapting" theory is scientifically proven but it's happened to enough people to create a question mark over it. This article and this other article can explain the phenomenon.
Here are the articles that helped me understand the functions of niacinamide to skin: 1234


  1. This is very interesting! I never believed in the skin adapting thingy but I'll have to read the link you shared to get updated. My skin is having a major acne situation at the moment on the right cheek. I am currently using Nixoderm cream to get the surfacing acne clusters to release the pus (sorry, a bit TMI) as it's been stuck in cluster mode and I don't feel like meeting people when this is happening. Hoping it will heal up soon. Love reading your skincare journey and I learn something new from your niacinamide sandwich routine! :) x

    1. I go through that hermit phase whenever I'm experiencing a particularly bad breakout too =( And about the TMI thing, I think too many people including me know too well what you mean! It's annoying when a nasty spot just stays underneath the skin, like, hello, stop being a coward and come out please! Lololol. I hope you skin recovers soon!


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Hi, I'm Liyana

I'm a style & lifestyle blogger based in sunny (and ever humid) Malaysia. On The Good Weekender, you can find typed journals of my evolving modest personal style, travel adventures, skincare/beauty updates, home decor things, and stories of other bits and pieces of my everyday life. I hope you'll enjoy flipping through these pages of my virtual book!