Niacinamide and the skin - skincare’s new wonder molecule
What is Niacinamide?
Also known as Nicotinamide, Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3. It is an essential water-soluble vitamin, meaning it can’t be made by your body so you have to eat it or use it topically to receive its benefits. Niacinamide is good for many aspects of skin health - including treating hyperpigmentation, acne and rosacea.
Niacinamide has become an increasingly popular ingredient in skincare and supplements as it has a number of benefits, both when used topically and taken orally. Something of an unsung hero, niacinamide is generally well tolerated and a multi-tasking skincare ingredient that is extremely beneficial for skin, helping to treat a multitude of skin concerns. Found in serums, creams and many other forms, niacinamide can be used alongside other active ingredients in the skin to supercharge their effects. Indeed, the best niacinamide serums and creams for example, vitamin C with niacinamide can be used effectively to treat hyperpigmentation, niacinamide with retinoids can help to treat acne, and niacinamide with azelaic acid can help to significantly reduce the severity of rosacea and inflammatory skin conditions. Niacinamide and zinc is also a popular combination which can help treat acne and inhibit the bacteria driving the acne process.
The Dr. David Jack core product range includes Niacinamide in combination with other antioxidants in each daily step, including Niacinamide + Vitamin C and Azelaic acid in our Good Morning Serum; Niacinamide + Glutathione and Hyaluronic acid, in our All Day Long SPF50 moisturiser; and finally Niacinamide + our 4th Generation Retinoid and Peptides in our groundbreaking anti-ageing Good Night cream.
How does Niacinamide work?
Niacinamide has many benefits when it comes to the skin. It acts as an antioxidant, is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing. It reduces fine line and wrinkles, skin pigmentation and sebum production. Niacinamide is increasingly used to help treat acne and rosacea and can help improve epidermal barrier function by increasing the production of ceramides.
Niacinamide shows some strong advantages over other ingredients with similar benefits, as it rarely causes irritation and is not subject to oxidation and photolysis (break down of molecules by the action of light). This makes Niacinamide a great component choice for a variety of cosmetic products targeting both young and mature skin alike.
What are the benefits of Niacinamide for the skin?
Niacinamide and Anti-Ageing activity
Niacinamide is a popular ingredient in skincare for anti-ageing. Niacinamide coenzymes help drive the metabolism of cells in the skin which are depleted by age. It can help normalise internal cellular imbalances and make ageing skin cells behave as if they were younger. Aged fibroblasts (the cells that create collagen and elastin in the skin) are less active than in young skin. Niacinamide can stimulate these cells to produce new collagen and elastin, improving the thickness and structure of older skin, which in turn reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Niacinamide for hyperpigmentation
Pigmentation changes are a key issue when it comes to ageing skin, as well as other conditions such as melasma. Many skincare ingredients used to reduce pigmentation concentrate on reducing melanin production (melanin is the pigmented protein that the skin produces to absorb UV light), however, Niacinamide works slightly differently. Instead of blocking production, it blocks the transfer of melanin from melanocytes to other cells, so stops the spread of melanin in the skin. In this way, niacinamide can treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots effectively, particularly in combination with other ingredients that block melanin production.
Niacinamide as an acne treatment
Acne is often a very difficult condition to manage with skincare. Often skincare ingredients designed to reduce acne can be stripping and harsh on the skin and even contribute to inflammation as a result of barrier compromise. Niacinamide has been shown to be effective in treating acne due to several of its actions. Firstly, Niacinamide can help regulate sebum (oil) production by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Secondly, it is anti-inflammatory so helps reduce the inflammation associated with acne; thirdly it is mildly exfoliating so helps to keep the blocked pores clear of debris. It is generally well tolerated and can be used alongside other acne treatments.
Niacinamide can even help reduce sensitivity to molecules such as the retinoids. Indeed, niacinamide is generally considered safe for sensitive skin. Niacinamide is also safe to use in pregnancy and breastfeeding so can be used as an alternative to retinoids in these cases.
Niacinamide can be used in skincare formulations with other ingredients to supercharge it’s effects. A key combination for this is Niacinamide and Retinol (or retinoids), like our Good Night cream. Niacinamide with zinc is another popular combination treatment used in some niacinamide serums for acne.
Niacinamide for skin Immunity
Topical application of Niacinamide has a stabilising effect on the epidermal barrier function. It can help build proteins in the skin and lock-in moisture by reducing trans-epidermal water loss and an improvement in the moisture content of the Stratum Corneum layer, which is important in preventing environmental damage to the skin. This is beneficial for all skin types, especially if you have sensitive or mature skin. Niacinamide also helps skin cells produce waterproof protein keratin. Keratin keeps your skin healthy and firm and has a stimulating effect on ceramide synthesis.
Niacinamide and skin protection
In ageing skin, Niacinamide has protective effects against the action of UV light, rebuilding healthy skin cells. Over time, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects help protect the skin against external and internal ageing factors to improve the surface quality.
Niacinamide and inflammation
Niacinamide demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease redness seen in acne, rosacea, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions. Niacinamide is increasingly being used as a first line treatment in Rosacea, alongside other ingredients such as azelaic acid, due to their anti-inflammatory benefits. All of the Dr. David Jack products contain niacinamide in combination with azelaic acid to harness this anti-inflammatory benefit.
The Bottom Line
There is strong evidence for the benefits of Niacinamide in the skin. As we learn about the effects of this B vitamin in skin health, its application in skincare products and supplements are becoming increasingly important. It can help to treat acne, pigmentation and also ageing skin, as well as being a key antioxidant ingredient.