Why You Should Use Niacinamide Only with Resveratrol

Skin Care

I absolutely love my job here at FutureDerm. One of the biggest perks? Getting to talk to brilliant people all the time, whether businesspeople or web developers or chemists. With regards to the latter, I recently spoke to one of our chemists in a rather long discussion about whether or not niacinamide should only be used in conjunction with resveratrol or other sirtuin promoters. The lesson? Niacinamide should never be used alone, because it can inhibit sirtuins.

Breaking Down The Scientific Logic Behind This Idea

You may remember that there are anti-aging creams like Estee Lauder Time Zone Line & Wrinkle Reducing Lotion SPF 15 that contain sirtuins or sirtuin promoters.

To understand sirtuins, let’s talk it through in a few steps. Your cells are like workaholics: once they get going, it’s hard for them to stop. As you might imagine, this is hard on the cell — it’s like they’re in the midst of a work project or college finals week perpetually. Because it’s a bit of a science-heavy concept, I decided to work with our designer, Meredith, on a cartoon strip that would illustrate these points more simply.


One way to get your cells to stop is to introduce sirtuins to the mix. Just like when you finish a project and call a friend to de-stress, when your cells are done working, they naturally signal sirtuins to come in and rescue them. In short, sirtuins stop your cells from working too hard.


The scientific terminology for this is sirtuins stop unnecessary gene expression. You may remember the whole “gene to protein” idea from biology class. I know I’m making some of you dive really deeply into the brain archives, but bear with me. Once you have enough of a specific type of protein, there’s theoretically no point in having your cells keep expressing genes that encode more of that specific type of protein. It’s “unnecessary gene expression.”


The good news is that resveratrol and sirtuin promoters have been shown in a number of studies to increase sirtuin production, so your cells stop working too hard. This is useful because sirtuin levels decrease with advancing age. So if you are 20 years old, your cells might turn on sirtuins immediately after a certain threshold level of protein production has been reached. But if you are 60 years old, your cells might take 30, 60, 90 minutes or more to turn on sirtuins after the threshold level has been attained. So, without sirtuins, your older skin cells are overworking!  Resveratrol and sirtuin promoters have been shown in independent studies to help.


The bad news is that niacinamide has been shown to work against sirtuins. So if you introduce niacinamide to the mix, your cells could keep working too hard (i.e., unnecessary gene expression). In this 2005 study conducted at Johns Hopkins University, it was found that niacinamide inhibits sirtuin activity in a very specific reaction that is well-known to be a part of cellular energy promotion.  Boo. In plain English, this means that your attempts to prolong the life of your cells by turning off unnecessary gene expression with sirtuins will most likely be negated somewhat by niacinamide.

So Why Keep Using Niacinamide?

Niacinamide is the basic (high pH) version of vitamin B3. It has been shown in numerous dermatological studies to:

Of all the ingredients I have seen used in skin care, niacinamide is one of my all-time favorites. However, given the research demonstrating niacinamide’s effects on sirtuins, I personally won’t use a cream with niacinamide any longer without using one with resveratrol (or taking a resveratrol supplement).

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 3.51.29 PM

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($24.51, amazon.com)

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Estee Lauder Time Zone Anti-Line/Wrinkle Creme ($90.27, amazon.com)

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Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-aging Moisturizer ($57, amazon.com)

Bottom Line

The degree to which sirtuin promoters or inhibitors in skin care products impact the skin is largely unknown, at least relative to well-established ingredients like retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and antioxidants. However, in theory, it is known that niacinamide turns off sirtuins and resveratrol turns on sirtuins. Well-educated skin scientists like Dr. Konstantinos Lahanas, Ph.D., a former chemist for Estee Lauder, maintain that there is no point in taking the risk in using niacinamide without resveratrol.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to use resveratrol-based creams OR to take a resveratrol supplement when using niacinamide-based creams.

The Full Story

What are your thoughts? Did you enjoy this post? I’d love to know what you think of us running cartoons!

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  • Cassandra A Cary

    The Olay product you have there does not have resveratrol.

  • Holly

    Nicki, you’ve promoted several Nia24 products in the past that offer their Pro-Niacin. Does this article pertain to that, as well, with needing resveratrol? I looked in the Nia24 ingredients and only their new Intensive Retinol Repair cream contains resveratrol.

  • yasmin

    EXCELLENT idea to use cartoon. Very cute, and pictures simplify terms, which i really appreciate.

  • Tim

    Thanks, Nicki

  • jeff

    isoniacinamide and polygonum cuspidatum root. the latter is supossed to be rich or reservatrol..these both ingredients appear in the youth surge cream of clinique

  • theresa

    @Nicki- in reference to your comment about there being no research showing resveratrol supplements to be detrimental. Have you seen the following study?

    Lasse Gliemann, Jakob Friis Schmidt, Jesper Olesen, Rasmus Sjørup Biensø, Sebastian Louis Peronard, Simon Udsen Grandjean, Stefan Peter Mortensen, Michael Nyberg, Jens Bangsbo, Henriette Pilegaard, and Ylva Hellsten. Resveratrol Blunts the Positive Effects of Exercise Training on Cardiovascular Health in Aged Men. JPHYSIOL, 2013/258061


    An article summarizing the findings:


    Of course, it is only one study but perhaps something to take into account when considering resveratrol supplements.

  • @Janine – Great questions.

    1.) As I said to Tim above – I personally have looked at much of the data that is available to the public and will acknowledge there is enough evidence to assume sirtuin promoters in skin care do make a difference. However, this does not mean the converse is true, that is, sirtuin inhibitors like niacinamide are enough to make a negative/detrimental difference in the skin. I think you are correct in saying that the anti-aging effects of niacinamide are likely to be significant enough to combat any pro-aging effects from inhibiting sirtuins – and then some.

    2.) Excellent point about the jars. Unless the philosophy Miracle Worker Cream with resveratrol contains some sort of microencapsulation system, then yes, you are right, the resveratrol will degrade within a short time of opening. So I would suggest a supplement over the cream in the jar.

    3.) As far as dosing of resveratrol, stick to the standard 20 mg per day. Do not take resveratrol if you are pregnant or nursing.

  • @Jess – Great question. To the best of my knowledge, green tea has never been shown to be a sirtuin promoter like resveratrol. Green tea is a potent antioxidant like resveratrol, but it is not a known sirtuin promoter.

    If anyone finds new research documenting otherwise – please, send it our way!

  • @Tim – No, definitely not. There are so many benefits from niacinamide use in independent research studies, ranging from improving skin sallowing to aiding acne, to improving sun spots to eradicating fine lines and wrinkles [somewhat].

    Even if niacinamide is a sirtuin inhibitor, the rate by which cellular metabolism is accelerated should not have significant aging effects. Keep in mind that regular exfoliation temporarily speeds cellular metabolism as a part of the recovery process. And chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and laser treatments speed cellular metabolism during recovery at an even faster rate.

    Sirtuins in skin care is very complex. Some anti-aging experts theorize that sirtuin promoters in skin care must do nothing or next to nothing, because cellular metabolism is not typically easy to alter, and sirtuin promoters are almost always in low concentrations in skin care. That said, there is documented research, though administered in most cases by the manufacturers or marketing companies, that the level of sirtuin promoters in skin care is enough to affect a slowing, “preserving” change in cellular metabolism.

    I personally have looked at much of the data that is available to the public and will acknowledge there is enough evidence to assume sirtuin promoters in skin care do make a difference. However, this does not mean the converse is true, that is, sirtuin inhibitors like niacinamide are enough to make a negative/detrimental difference in the skin.

  • @Jeff – Without doing research and determining the exact activity of niacinamide and sirtuin promoters in the Clinique cream, then, yes, theoretically, by using a sirtuin inhibitor (niacinamide) and sirtuin promoter, you’re not getting a net effect. The most precise answer is that you are not getting as many sirtuin promoting benefits as you would if the cream did not contain niacinamide. Despite this, I really do like niacinamide, so your best bet is to either add a cream to the mix that contains resveratrol (like the philosophy Miracle Worker) or to take a resveratrol supplement.

    Hope this helps! Let me know if you have more questions.

  • @Mi mi – Sorry for the confusion. I’m going to go back and rearrange the moisturizers so this is more clear:

    Olay Regenerist – contains niacinamide
    Estee Lauder Time Line – contains sirtuin promoters
    philosophy Miracle Worker Moisturizer – contains resveratrol

    What we are suggesting is that you use niacinamide (Olay) with resveratrol (philosophy or via supplement).

    Hope this helps!

  • @Eileen – Thanks for the comment! Yes, resveratrol supplements are increasingly popular. Given how hard it is to get from food and beverage – most of the resveratrol in wine is inactivated soon after the cork is popped – I think it’s great that you’re taking them. I haven’t seen any research showing a potential detriment yet.

  • juline

    You’re articles just keep getting better and better Nicki! Love this one 🙂

  • janine

    ……..and how much resveratrol is enough (in a supplement)? Also, the 3 examples of creams that you give are all in jars. Wouldn’t the resveratrol rapidly degrade, loosing all benefits, with the opening of the jar and exposure to air?

  • HB

    Hi Nicki! I’ve been using Olay Regenerist Night Treatment cream…bad idea? Does the Olay Regenerist cream listed above contain resveratrol? I’m a bit confused…do I use niacinamide cream THEN apply one with resveratrol? Or can a cream contain both? I need an affordable alternative. Thanks!!

  • janine

    I am with Jeff………how do we know that the resveratrol / niacinamide combination do not simply cancel each other out? And it seems that skin care without niacinamide, considering its many benefits, is not sufficient skin care at all. Couldn’t it be said that the sirtuin inhibiting properties of niacinamide are a small price to pay for the many other benefits?

  • Jess

    Are there any other alternatives to resveratrol? Would pairing niacinamide and green tea be effective?

  • Tim

    So has my years of niacinamide use done more long-term harm than good? What are the consequences of being “hard on the cell” as you say?

    Great post, btw.

  • jeff

    The time Zone fro Estee is now Advanced TimeZone, its about $60 jar.

  • jeff

    Im confused, I know a CLinique cream that has niacinamide and Reservratrol in it….Don’t they cancel each other out? So im not getting the benefits of the sirtuins?

  • mi mi

    the three you have mentioned about contains sirtuins ? especially the Olay one ? other two are too expensive for me anyways.

  • Eileen

    This was an interesting article, Nicki. I am 69 and take a number of supplements. I’ve noticed in the past year that many vitamins designed for women over 50 now contain resveratrol. I used to take it as a separate supplement, but now I get it in my multi.

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