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Skin Purging: Does Niacinamide Cause Breakouts?

Skin Purging: Does Niacinamide Cause Breakouts?

Niacinamide is generally considered a gentle ingredient, well tolerated by all skin types. However, some people have reported the onset of pimples after using it. Continue reading to find out if niacinamide triggers purges.

Does the use of niacinamide skincare products cause skin purging?

In skincare, the purge occurs when you start using active ingredients that increase the rate of renewal of skin cells, leading to the emergence of new skin cells on the surface of the epidermis. However, this process can result in a temporary increase in blemishes in the form of pustules, blackheads, or inflammatory whiteheads. This is a possible side effect of active ingredients, such as retinoids or exfoliating actives.

However, niacinamide does not have the ability to trigger a skin purge, even though there isn't much research demonstrating the negative reactions of topical niacinamide. Furthermore, no study has shown that it increases skin cell renewal, a sign of purging. On the contrary, according to studies, the anti-inflammatory properties of the niacinamide aim to reduce pustules, a characteristic of purging, without exacerbating them.

Similarly, its sebostatic effects can also minimize the formation of comedones, results of an overactivity of the sebaceous glands. Moreover, the few available studies regarding the adverse effects of niacinamide indicate that the ingredient is often well tolerated by all skin types and is associated with almost few side effects at standard doses. Even sensitive skin generally reacts well to it.

But then why do some people develop skin rashes?

While it is supposed to improve acne and serve as an anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredient, a negative reaction (irritation, redness, heat) can occur following the use of niacinamide, sometimes resulting in the appearance of blemishes greater than average. This is most likely a allergic reaction or hypersensitivity, which can occur if the concentration percentage of niacinamide is very high (>5%). Try a formula with a lower concentration instead. This side effect could also be the result of another active ingredient present in the formula. If you experience this, immediately stop using the product and consult a healthcare professional.


  • GEHRING W. Nicotinic acid/niacinamide and the skin. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology (2004).

  • NAMAZI M. Nicotinamide in Dermatology: A Capsule Summary. International Journal of Dermatology (2007).


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