In the skincare world, retinol has long worn the crown as the triple-threat ingredient that does it all. (It reduces the appearance of fine lines! Addresses acne! Evens skin tone!) But retinol’s not the only J.Lo of skin actives: there’s another skincare star with multi-hyphenate qualities that’s just starting to get its due. We’re talking about niacinamide skincare. Like Jennifer Lopez, it has its own street name: vitamin B3. With credits that include boosting skin barrier function, controlling sebum production and minimizing hyperpigmentation, niacinamide seems primed to benefit just about any skin concern.
But is beauty’s buzzy ingredient really the cure-all that it appears to be—and does it really belong in just about every formulation out there? We talked to dermatologists for tips on how and when to use it and the extent to which it can really deliver. (Trust us, there are caveats galore.) Here’s how it works.