What is Niacinamide?
Niacinamide is also known as Vitamin B3 or nicotinamide, a water-soluble vitamin that is required by the body to maintain a healthy digestive system, improve circulation and maintaining optimal skin health.
This standout antiageing ingredient is suitable for almost every skin type, including those with sensitive skin; and research has shown there are many benefits to using topical niacinamide. This includes balancing oil production, visibly minimise the appearance of enlarged pores, reduce inflammation, improve uneven skin tone and strengthen our skin barrier to environmental stressors.
Sound too good to be true right?
If there is one thing the beauty industry got right, it is the push for this undeniably remarkable ingredient to be included in everyone's skincare routine.
Fade hyperpigmentation. There are multiple clinical studies showing the depigmenting effect niacinamide has on skin vs Hydroquinone and placebo. One notable large study published by the British Journal of Dermatology showed that 5% topical niacinamide had significantly reduced facial pigmentation after 4 weeks of use compared to placebo. The changes to skin colour were objectively quantified using computer analysis and visual grading of digital images of the subject's face.
It is found that niacinamide can inhibit melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes, thus reducing melanin production.
Anti-ageing. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) has shown remarkable results as an antiageing ingredient. When applied topically twice daily for 12 weeks, 5% Niacinamide has demonstrated improvement in skin elasticity, reduced inflammation, a reduction in fine lines and hyperpigmentation.
It is found that Niacinamide has the ability to regulate cell metabolism and regeneration, thus increasing cell turnover.
Anti-inflammatory. Although the mechanism is unclear, 4% topical Niacinamide applied twice daily has been shown to be effective in acne patients after 8 weeks without the risk of inducing anti-bacterial resistance.
Hydration. Niacinamide increases the production of ceramides, thus preventing trans-epidermal water loss that leads to dry, flaky skin. Niacinamide also works brilliantly with other moisturisers and humectants such as glycerin and Sodium Hyaluronate. This makes niacinamide a standout ingredient for not only anti-ageing but also for acne and rosacea-prone skin.
Niacinamide is the ultimate "multi-tasker" and is compatible with many other skincare actives without adverse effects.
The benefits of Niacinamide have been demonstrated in clinical trials at a concentration of around 4-5% so make sure you check the ingredients label and apply twice daily to the affected area(s) as a leave-on application. Cream and serum formulations can easily be incorporated into your skincare routine with hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C, E or retinol.
With so many benefits, it is difficult to say no to this wonder ingredient if you're looking for brighter, youthful-looking skin!
Author: Helen Huynh
Pharmacist and editor for ellé derm
1. Shalita, A et al (1995) "Topical Nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris." International Journal of Dermatology. Jun;34(6):434-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4362.1995.tb04449.x.
2. Levin, J et al (2010) "How much do we really know about our favourite Cosmeceutical Ingredients?" The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. Feb; 3(2): 22–41.
3. Naravette-Solis, J et al (2011) " A Double-blind, randomised clinical trial of Niacinamide 4% vs Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma." Dermatology Research and Practice. Jul 21. doi: 10.1155/2011/379173