Niacinamide

Also known as vitamin B3, this ingredient is a true superstar with confirmed moisturizing, anti-acne, and antioxidant benefits. Several studies have testified to the anti-wrinkle benefits of niacinamide and its ability to reduce hyperpigmentation.
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Niacinamide

Overview

Niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) is a derivative of nicotinic acid, or vitamin B3.

It is a true superstar ingredient, and deservedly so! It offers such a wide range of amazing benefits that it would be impossible to choose between them. Let us have a look at each in more detail.

Moisturizing and barrier-supporting. Numerous studies have testified to the moisturizing and barrier-supporting benefits of niacinamide.

A study using a 2% niacinamide cream reported improved skin hydration and reduced transepidermal water loss of dry atopic skin. This suggests that niacinamide has moisturizing benefits and that it allows dry skin to recover by its own means.

This is supported by another study that showed that niacinamide can improve the skin’s lipid barrier by stimulating ceramide synthesis. Yet another study reported on the sebum-reducing effects of a 2% niacinamide cream after only 4 weeks.

It seems safe to say that no matter what skin type you have, including niacinamide in your skincare routine will only change your skin for the better!

Antioxidant. Niacinamide is an active ingredient that is thought to be able to reduce UV-induced skin damage and UV- induced inflammation. It is also thought to be able to start the repair processes in skin cells after harmful UV exposure. This aids skin health in the long term because it may prevent the sun damage that leads to premature aging.

Although niacinamide is such a powerful ingredient, you’ll be glad to hear that it is not associated with any kind of photosensitivity.

Anti-acne. Several studies have reported on the benefits of niacinamide for acne-prone skin. Aside from the above-mentioned regulation of moisture and sebum, the application of 4% niacinamide also resulted in a reduced number of acne spots. It even performed better than the standard anti-acne antibiotics clindamycin and erythromycin!

As far as we can tell, niacinamide does not kill the acne bacteria, but helps the skin to deal with the inflammation that comes along with the acne.

Anti-aging. Several studies have also testified to the anti-aging benefits of niacinamide. The application of a 4% niacinamide cream significantly improved the appearance of wrinkles and skin texture. Similarly, a 5% cream showed an improvement in skin elasticity and a reduction of fine lines after only 12 weeks.

The current theory is that niacinamide increases the production of collagen in the skin, although this has only been shown in test-tubes so far.

Anti-pigment. One study compared the effects of a 4% niacinamide treatment to a 4% hydroquinone treatment, the golden standard for anti-pigment ingredients in the market. Remarkably, after a period of 8 weeks, both treatments resulted in significant improvements in facial melasma, although niacinamide caused far fewer side effects.

In another study, a 4% niacinamide treatment reduced the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation after only 10 weeks of use. It is thought to be able to do this by slowing down the transport of skin pigment from pigment cells to the surrounding tissue.

But, alas, not everything about this ingredient is sunshine and roses. Skin reactions to niacinamide are not uncommon, especially when applied in the form of a high-concentration serum. Stinging, burning, and flushed skin have all been reported, even at 2% concentrations. These effects, however, do seem to disappear after continued use.

Make sure to always patch-test a new product before using it all over your face.

You, like many others in the skincare community, may be wondering how you could possibly combine all of your active ingredients into one skincare routine. The great thing about niacinamide is that it works well with almost all other ingredients.

It is often used in conjunction with other anti-aging and anti-pigment ingredients such as kojic acid, tranexamic acid, peptides, and retinoids (yes – we’re amazed too). If properly formulated, it can even be combined with fairly acidic ingredients such as AHAs, or the very temperamental vitamin C.

Science

1
Soma, Y., et al. (2005). Moisturizing effects of topical nicotinamide on atopic dry skin. International journal of dermatology, 44(3), 197–202.
2
Tanno O, et al. Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier. Br. J.Dermatol. 2000;143: 524–31
3
Draelos, Z. D., Matsubara, A., & Smiles, K. (2006). The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production. Journal of cosmetic and laser therapy : official publication of the European Society for Laser Dermatology, 8(2), 96–101.
4
Snaidr, V. A., Damian, D. L., & Halliday, G. M. (2019). Nicotinamide for photoprotection and skin cancer chemoprevention: A review of efficacy and safety. Experimental Dermatology, 28, 15–22.
5
Draelos ZD, Ertel K, Berge C. Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. Cutis2005;76: 135–41.
6
Levine D, et al. Pilot, multicenter, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled bilateral comparative study of a combination of calcipotriene and nicotinamide for the treatment of psoriasis. J Am Acad Dermatol 2010;63: 775–81.
7
Chen, A. C., & Damian, D. L. (2014). Nicotinamide and the skin. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 55(3), 169–175.
8
Kaymak Y, Onder M. An investigation of efficacy of topical niacinamide for the treatment of mild and moderate acne vulgaris. J Turk Acad Dermatol2008;2:jtad82402a
9
Shalita AR, et al. Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol 1995;34: 434–7.
10
Weltert Y, et al.Double-blind clinical assessment of the efficacy of a 4% nicotinamide gel (Exfoliac NC Gel) versus a 4% erythromycin gel in the treatment of moderate acne with a predominant inflammatory component. Nouvelles Dermatologiques2004;23: 385–94.
11
Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Dermatol. Surg.2005;31: 860–5; discussion 5.
12
Kawada A, et al. Evaluation of anti-wrinkle effects of a novel cosmetic containing niacinamide. J.Dermatol.2008;35: 637–42.
13
Navarrete-Solís J, et al. A Double-Blind Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the treatment of Melasma. Dermatol Res Pract 2011;2011:379173.
14
Kimball A, et al. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial. Br JDermatol2010;162: 435–41.
15
Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel (2005). Final report of the safety assessment of niacinamide and niacin. International journal of toxicology, 24 Suppl 5, 1–31.
16
Desai S, et al. Effect of a Tranexamic Acid, Kojic Acid, and Niacinamide Containing Serum on Facial Dyschromia: A Clinical Evaluation. J Drugs Dermatol. 2019;18(5):454-459.
17
Fu JJ, et al. A randomized, controlled comparative study of the wrinkle reduction benefits of a cosmetic niacinamide/peptide/retinyl propionate product regimen vs. a prescription 0.02% tretinoin product regimen. Br J Dermatol. 2010;162(3):647-654.
18
Villani, A., et al. (2020). Efficacy and safety of a new topical gel formulation containing retinol encapsulated in glycospheres and hydroxypinacolone retinoate, an antimicrobial peptide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and niacinamide for the treatment of mild acne: preliminary results of a 2-month prospective study. Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia : organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia, 155(5), 676–679.