Potent and multi-tasking, niacinamide has many benefits and is one skincare ingredient that should definitely be on your radar. A specific and very stable form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is restorative and versatile; It soothes and fights inflammation, strengthens the skin barrier, fades fine lines and dark spots, normalizes oil production and even tames acne. This powerhouse ingredient can also be used by all skin types— even the most sensitive—and its potential for irritation when combined with other ingredients is little to none.
Read on to learn about the many facets of niacinamide, including seven research backed benefits it offers.
THE SCIENCE BEHIND IT…
OVERALL CLINICAL DATA ON SPECIFIC INGREDIENT(S) & HOW THEY FUNCTION:
WHAT IS NIACINAMIDE?
Niacinamide or, nicotinamide, is the most common and well studied form of Vitamin B3, used in cosmetic products. It is a low molecular weight, water-soluble vitamin and precursor to important coenzymes, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD(H) and its phosphorylated derivative, nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate or NADP(H). NAD(H) and NADP(H) are oxidation/reduction (redox) coenzymes, involved in over 40 biochemical reactions, crucial to the energy, repair, and homeostasis of cells.1 As we age, the levels of these crucial coenzymes decrease, resulting in increased oxidative stress and reduction in skin health. By replenishing these cofactors, niacinamide provides a therapeutic boost, resulting in a myriad of skin benefits. It is important to note that you do not need to be niacin deficient or low on NAD(H) to see the skin benefits of niacinamide. All skin types can profit from this multi-faceted beauty vitamin.
WHAT DOES NIACINAMIDE DO FOR THE SKIN?
Topical niacinamide has been shown to reduce diglycerides, triglycerides, and fatty acid production, which translates to reduced sebum production and visually decreased pore size. Known for its brightening and lightening benefits, niacinamide reduces melanosome transfer and can effectively treat hyperpigmentation and melasma.2 NAD(H) is a potent antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress and glycation and upregulation via niacinamide application clinically reduces skin sallowness, redness, and inflammation.3 Niacinamide also reduces protein carbonylation induced by blue light, as well as increases DNA excision and repair, following UV irradiation.4
Topical niacinamide reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by increasing keratinocyte proliferation and stimulating collagen and epidermal protein synthesis. Another amazing feature of niacinamide is its ability to improve the skin barrier. By boosting ceramide and barrier lipid synthesis and therefore strengthening the integrity of the skin barrier, niacinamide increases moisture content in skin, protects the skin from environmental pollutants, reduces skin sensitivity to irritants, and helps the skin tolerate retinoids better. Given the plethora of skin benefits with little to no side effects, dermatologists have used this cosmeceutical active to treat rosacea, acne, melasma, and atopoic dermatitis.
IS NIACINAMIDE SAFE FOR THE SKIN?
Niacinamide has been proven safe and effective time and time again. It not only has a biological effect on numerous biochemical pathways, but also is extremely well tolerated at high doses. In fact, niacinamide reduces proinflammatory cytokines, therefore reducing redness and inflammation.5 Clinical testing indicates that niacinamide is not an irritant, sensitizer, or photosensitizer.6 There are rare cases of mild irritation, but most often the culprit is nicotinic acid, another form of Vitamin B3, commonly known as niacin. Niacinamide is the amide form of niacin, having an amine, or NH2 group, as opposed to a hydroxyl, or OH group. At low levels, niacin causes vasodilation (flushing) through prostaglandin release, which can be accompanied by itching.7 A grossly outdated and erroneously referenced study has made consumers concerned about the hydrolysis of niacinamide to niacin in low pH skin care products such as paired with alpha hydroxy acids.
This study, published in 1962, records first order rate constants for the hydrolysis of niacinamide at 90℃ over a pH range of 0.4-11.3, showing minimal reaction between pH 4.0-6.0.8 It is significant to note that this reaction took several hours to occur when at 90℃. The majority of cosmetic products are manufactured at temperatures below 90℃ and storage and transportation conditions of the finished product will not reach this temperature. The authors of the study also used a very strong acid, hydrochloric acid, to observe this chemical reaction below pH 4.0. Acid strength, corresponding to a dissociation constant, is just as important as acid concentration. Hydrochloric acid is not used in skincare products and the acids in your skincare products do not have the same strength. Bottom line, niacinamide can be safely used in low pH products.
DOES NIACINAMIDE HAVE ANY CHEMICAL INCOMPATIBILITIES?
Niacinamide does not have any known chemical incompatibilities and pairs well with numerous other bioactives, for synergistic results. Pair niacinamide, which reduces melanosome transfer, with vitamin C, a tyrosinase inhibitor, and you have a very effective skin lightener. Pair niacinamide, which boosts ceramide producers and inhibits proinflammatory cytokines, with retinol, which increases cell renewal and collagen production, and you get an anti-aging treatment with minimal irritation. Pair niacinamide, which reduces fatty acid production while reducing proinflammatory cytokines, with Zinc PCA, an antimicrobial agent with moisturizing properties, and you get a blemish and sebum control treatment that won’t dry or disrupt the skin. Pair niacinamide, which stimulates ceramide and barrier lipid synthesis, with Hyaluronic Acid, a humectant and film former, and you get a hydrating treatment that moisturizes from within and on the surface of the skin. Naturium niacinamide formulas are perfect to pair and layer with any of your skin care products, to elevate and maximize your skin benefits.
NIACINAMIDE BENEFITS FOR SKIN
1. NIACINAMIDE EVENS SKIN TONE AND REDUCES HYPERPIGMENTATION
Although the specific mechanism of action remains unknown, research has shown that niacinamide can help fade hyperpigmentation on the skin. Scientifically, niacinamide is thought to help inhibit the transfer of melanosomes, which house and produce melanin, the brown to black pigment in our skin and hair. While the specific way in which this occurs is yet to be fully understood, the important thing to know is this: Adding niacinamide into your skincare routine can literally help lighten things up.
2. NIACINAMIDE STRENGTHENS THE SKIN BARRIER
Your skin barrier is made up of lipids, ceramides and fatty acids, and together these components are responsible for keeping moisture in and foreign invaders (like bacteria and free radicals) out. When the skin barrier becomes weak or damaged, the fallout can manifest in a myriad of ways. Things like stinging, burning, and excessive dryness or flaking skin can all signal a compromised skin barrier, as well as more serious conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Because it promotes the production of ceramides and elastin, both vital components of the skin barrier, niacinamide helps strengthen the complexion’s natural protective shield, resulting in more hydrated, healthy skin that can better defend itself against moisture loss and outside irritants.
3. NIACINAMIDE REGULATES OIL PRODUCTION
Niacinamide can also help regulate and stabilize oil production in the skin. This goes back to restoring the strength of the skin barrier, and more specifically, the sebaceous glands in the skin which produce oil). Excess sebum (oil) on the skin can contribute to clogged pores, which can lead to the formation of both comedonal (blackheads) and inflammatory acne (papules and pustules). In helping to even out the amount of oil the skin produces, niacinamide can help tame and even prevent acne.
4. NIACINAMIDE IMPROVES SKIN TEXTURE, INCLUDING FADING FINE LINES
An intact lipid barrier promotes the production of collagen and elastin in the skin, which leads to more a more youthful-looking and supple complexion. As we age, our natural reserves of, and ability to produce, these essential proteins declines, and thus fine lines and wrinkles begin to set in. By replenishing what gets lost, skin’s youthful vitality is restored.
By replenishing what gets lost, skin’s youthful vitality is restored.
5. NIACINAMIDE PROVIDES ANTIOXIDANT PROTECTION AND REPAIRS DAMAGED DNA
When applied topically, niacinamide converts into nicotinamide nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD), which has potent free-radical fighting antioxidant properties. This is crucial to skin health, as DNA damage can occur visibly in response to a number of everyday stressors, including environmental pollution and UV exposure. In increasing the amount of NAD, niacinamide works to reduce oxidative cellular damage within skin cells.
6. NIACINAMIDE SOOTHES SKIN AND CALMS REDNESS
Topical use of niacinamide has also been shown to decrease redness and blotchiness in the skin, which also relates back to its ability to strengthen and improve the functioning of the skin barrier.
7. NIACINAMIDE IMPROVES DULLNESS
Sallow is the term used to describe skin that is yellow or brown in tone. In another word: Dullness. Using niacinamide has been shown to improve and prevent sallowness in the complexion without causing irritation, making it an ideal topical for restoring skin tone.
NATURIUM'S NIACINAMIDE SERUM & MORE
Ready to add niacinamide into your own skin care routine? Try our best selling Niacinamide Serum, which is formulated with 12% of the ingredient, alongside 2% zinc PCA. Want something a little different? We've got a collection of Niacinamide products for you to choose from, so there's something for everyone.
Lab Journals are intended to help educate on specific ingredients and skin care topics. Our articles are written to be informative and informational.
Please note any Naturium products with referenced ingredients are formulated for Cosmetic Use Only and NOT intended as replacements for physician pharmaceutical product recommendations.
Niacinamide Gel Cream 5%
50 G / 1.7 OZ Our refreshing gel-cream is formulated with a potent level of niacinamide, helping to balance skin’s hydration and reducing the appea...
Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2%
30 ML / 1.0 Fl OZ New look, same great formula!Our concentrated serum is formulated with pure 12% niacinamide and 2% zinc PCA, and is clinically pr...