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 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.
Niacinamide acts as an antioxidant, is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing. It reduces fine line and wrinkles, skin pigmentation and sebum production. It 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 on the skin?
Nicotinamide 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.
Treatment of HyperpigmentationPigmentation 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, it can be used to target pigmentation issues extremely well in combination with other ingredients that block melanin production.
Reduction of sebum production and acne
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 multiple benefits when it comes to acne.
Firstly, it can help regulate sebum (oil) production by the skin’s sebaceous glands. Secondly, it in 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. It’s also safe to use in pregnancy and breastfeeding so can be used as an alternative to retinoids in these cases.
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.
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.
Minimizes Redness And Blotchiness
Niacinamide demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties and may help ease redness seen in acne, rosacea, eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.
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.