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Should Niacinamide Be Applied On Damp Skin?

  • Post category:Skin Care
  • Post last modified:May 21, 2024
  • Reading time:14 mins read

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, has become a staple in many skincare routines due to its versatile benefits. It is known for its ability to improve skin texture, reduce inflammation, and address various skin concerns such as acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of aging. However, a common question that arises is whether niacinamide should be applied on damp or dry skin. This article delves into the science behind niacinamide application and provides insights on the best practices for its use.


Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of vitamin B3 that offers numerous benefits for the skin. It helps build keratin, a protein that keeps the skin firm and healthy and supports the lipid barrier, which helps retain moisture. Additionally, niacinamide reduces inflammation, minimizes pore appearance, regulates oil production, and protects against sun damage and oxidative stress.

Benefits of Niacinamide

  1. Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Niacinamide reduces inflammation, making it effective for treating acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
  2. Moisture Retention: It helps the skin retain moisture by supporting the lipid barrier, which is beneficial for all skin types, especially dry and mature skin.
  3. Oil Regulation: Niacinamide regulates oil production, which can help reduce the appearance of pores and prevent acne.
  4. Anti-Aging: It boosts collagen production, which helps reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improves skin elasticity.
  5. Hyperpigmentation: Niacinamide can lighten dark spots and improve skin tone by inhibiting the transfer of pigment within the skin.

Application of Niacinamide: Damp vs. Dry Skin

The debate on whether niacinamide should be applied on damp or dry skin stems from the general skincare principle that damp skin is more permeable and can absorb products better. However, the efficacy of niacinamide does not significantly change whether it is applied on damp or dry skin.

Applying Niacinamide on Damp Skin

Applying niacinamide on damp skin can enhance its absorption due to the increased permeability of the skin. This method is particularly beneficial for those with dry or sensitive skin, as it can help the product penetrate more deeply and work more effectively.

  • Enhanced Absorption: Damp skin is more permeable, allowing niacinamide to penetrate deeper and work more effectively7.
  • Hydration Boost: Applying niacinamide on damp skin can help lock in moisture, providing an additional hydration boost7.
  • Reduced Irritation: For those with sensitive skin, applying niacinamide on damp skin can reduce the risk of irritation, as the product is more easily absorbed and less likely to sit on the surface of the skin7.

Applying Niacinamide on Dry Skin

Applying niacinamide on dry skin is also effective and is often recommended for those with oily or acne-prone skin. This method ensures that the product is absorbed without the risk of over-hydration, which can sometimes lead to breakouts.

  • Controlled Absorption: Applying niacinamide on dry skin allows for controlled absorption, which can be beneficial for those with oily or acne-prone skin7.
  • Layering with Other Products: When applied on dry skin, niacinamide can be easily layered with other skincare products without the risk of pilling or over-saturation7.
  • Consistency: For those who prefer a consistent skincare routine, applying niacinamide on dry skin can be more straightforward and less dependent on the skin’s moisture level7.

Best Practices for Applying Niacinamide

Regardless of whether you choose to apply niacinamide on damp or dry skin, there are some best practices to ensure you get the most out of this powerful ingredient.

  1. Cleanse First: Always start with a clean face. Use a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup, ensuring that your skin is ready to absorb the niacinamide.
  2. Tone (Optional): If you use a toner, apply it after cleansing to balance your skin’s pH and prepare it for the niacinamide serum.
  3. Apply Niacinamide: Dispense a few drops of niacinamide serum onto your fingertips and gently dab it onto your face and neck. If applying on damp skin, do so immediately after cleansing or toning.
  4. Follow with Moisturizer: After applying niacinamide, follow up with a moisturizer to lock in the benefits and keep your skin hydrated.
  5. Use Sunscreen: If you are applying niacinamide in the morning, always follow up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen to protect your skin from UV damage.

Combining Niacinamide with Other Ingredients

Niacinamide is a versatile ingredient that can be combined with various other skincare ingredients to enhance its benefits.

  • Hyaluronic Acid: Combining niacinamide with hyaluronic acid can provide an extra hydration boost and improve skin texture.
  • Salicylic Acid: Using salicylic acid with niacinamide can help clear excess oil and prevent acne while niacinamide soothes and brightens the skin.
  • Alpha Arbutin: Layering alpha arbutin with niacinamide can help fade pigmentation and brighten the skin.

What to Avoid

While niacinamide is generally well-tolerated, there are some combinations to avoid to prevent irritation and ensure optimal results.

  • Vitamin C: Niacinamide and vitamin C can be used together, but it is best to space their application to avoid potential irritation. Use vitamin C in the morning and niacinamide in the evening, or wait a few minutes between applying them.
  • Exfoliating Acids: Avoid using niacinamide with strong exfoliating acids like glycolic acid or salicylic acid in the same routine, as this can increase the risk of irritation.


Niacinamide is a powerful and versatile skincare ingredient that can benefit all skin types. Whether you choose to apply it on damp or dry skin, the key is to ensure consistent use and proper layering with other skincare products. By following the best practices outlined in this article, you can maximize the benefits of niacinamide and achieve healthier, more radiant skin.


What happens if you use niacinamide on dry skin?

Using niacinamide on dry skin can help improve hydration and strengthen the skin barrier. Niacinamide enhances the skin’s ability to retain moisture, which is beneficial for dry skin types. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and calm dry, irritated skin, making it a versatile ingredient for various skin concerns.

Which serum should be applied on damp skin?

Serums containing hyaluronic acid are best applied on damp skin. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts and retains moisture. Applying it on damp skin helps maximize its hydrating effects, ensuring that the skin remains plump and moisturized.

Do you put niacinamide before or after moist?

Niacinamide should be applied before moisturizing. As a water-based serum, it is best used after cleansing and toning but before applying any oil-based serums or moisturizers. This ensures optimal absorption and effectiveness of the niacinamide.

Should I rub in niacinamide?

Niacinamide should be gently patted or dabbed into the skin rather than rubbed. This method helps ensure even distribution and better absorption without causing irritation or disrupting the skin barrier.

Can niacinamide be applied on dry skin?

Yes, niacinamide can be applied on dry skin. It is beneficial for dry skin types as it helps improve moisture retention, strengthens the skin barrier, and reduces inflammation. Its hydrating properties make it suitable for addressing dryness and improving overall skin health.