It might not roll off your lips but Vitamin B3 or Niacinamide is fast becoming a beauty industry favourite. Dr Zara Kassam PhD explains why.
A certain nutrient in the cosmeceutical world has been gaining popularity for its favourable effects on the skin; it goes by the name Niacinamide.
Now you’re probably wondering why everyone is suddenly talking about this ingredient. What does Niacinamide do, and why is it being called the “super food” of skin care?
So sit tight and let us walk you through this breath-taking product.
Niacinamide or vitamin B3 has recently been gaining a reputation in the skincare industry for its beneficial beauty-boosting traits. Many creams in the market claim that its properties can improve a number of skin conditions. As a food, it is well recognised as an essential nutrient for a well-functioning and healthy body.
Your digestive system, nervous system and brain function are all dependent on this super-food. But as the active form, Nicotinamide, is the water-soluble and passed out in our urine we need a constant supply of niacinamide, which we get from foods such as beef, nuts, legumes, fish or fortified cereals.
Eating it is one thing, but what does it do on our skin?
As essential as it is for your body, Niacinamide is also a must have in your beauty regimen.
Niacinamide is known to provide a number of different benefits for the skin including increasing elasticity, strengthening the skin barrier, evening skin tone and even reducing inflammation. With many clinical studies claiming that topical niacinamide has the potential to as effective as established prescribed solutions such as antibiotics, retinoids and salicylic acid when it comes to acne and rosacea- perhaps even more so.
It can penetrate the outer skin layer, the stratum corneum and has a favourable tolerability profile unlike many other harsher alternatives; it can be used in formulations, at concentrations up to 5%, with a very low incidence of irritation.
Everything about your skin looks and feels better when the epidermal lipid barrier is functioning at its best. Your lipid barrier helps retain moisture, keeps it hydrated for longer and will protect your skin from the harshness of the environment, regardless of the time of year. Niacinamide increases the production of ceramides, which are the main component of the outermost layer of skin, helping create a healthy protective layer which helps preventing water loss and keeps you skin looking plump and hydrated.
Studies have shown that 2% niacinamide is more effective than Vaseline at reducing water loss from the skin thereby increasing the skins moisture levels. This super-hydrating nutrient also has shown promise for skin conditions such as rosacea.
Many big brands recommend the use of niacinamide for the prevention and treatment of hyper-pigmentation, which it does, but as you can see, it is an all-around ingredient for anti-ageing and skin health. Everyone, no matter how old or what condition the skin will benefit from the long-term use of this scientifically proven ingredient.
Studies have shown that topically applied niacinamide reduces sunspots, blotchiness, and skin sallowness, and increases elasticity. Another study done by Hakozaki et al showed that a topically applied 2% niacinamide and sunscreen lotion significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness after 4 weeks of use.
And as if that weren’t enough Niacinamide appears to be a promising anti-aging ingredient too. Not only does keep the skin barrier hydrated, it also increases the production of proteins such as keratin, involucrin and filaggrin which are important factors in the formation and maintenance of the outermost layer of the skin.
The skins barrier being compromised is common in aging skin and can contribute to heightened sensitivity and irritation.
Studies have demonstrated that topical application of niacinamide reduces skin sensitivity to irritating surfactants such as sodium laurel sulphate and can be used to improve the tolerability of ingredients such as retinoids. A 12-week clinical study of a topical 5% niacinamide emulsion demonstrated a 21% improvement in fine lines along with a 14% skin tone clarity and 15% radiance improvement.
And there’s a also benefit for those who battle with oily skin. In addition to the anti-inflammatory effects, niacinamide also reduces sebum or oil production, making it a valuable ingredient for the acne-prone when battling those pesky outbreaks.
So it’s no mystery why makers of anti-aging skin care products are adding niacinamide to their formulations. Although the mechanisms in play need to be clarified, it is showing promise as a great skincare ingredient.
So, next time you see an product with this niacinamide, give it a try. As we know, the truth resides in the results.
(1) Niren, N. M. (2006). “Pharmacologic doses of nicotinamide in the treatment of inflammatory skin conditions: A review”. Cutis. 77 (1 (Supplement: Nicotinamide and Zinc in the Treatment of Acne and Rosacea)): 11–16.
Hill JR, Wertz PW (2009). “Structures of the ceramides from porcine palatal stratum corneum”. LIPIDS. 44 (3): 291–295.