What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide is an active form of vitamin B3, used in skincare as well as dietary supplements and medicine. Niacinamide forms the essential constituent of the oxidoreduction coenzymes NAD and NADP, these coenzymes are essential in the metabolism of cells but decline with age in our skin.
Let’s simplify it – Why use niacinamide in skincare?
A wide range of claims can be done with the use of niacinamide, it is a very well-studied ingredient. To generalise; a concentration of 2% can strengthen the skin barrier by reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and help hydrate the skin, as well as stimulate collagen production, while a concentration of 5% can help with reducing the size of pores and appearance of age spots. There are studies that suggest plenty more benefits at varying concentrations (see the section below about what the science says about niacinamide).
Niacinamide is an amazing ingredient that is well tolerated by skin. It is also a very stable ingredient in a wide range of formulas. But as we have said previously, for a well-rounded skin care routine, don’t just rely on one ingredient for everything. To date we use niacinamide in all of our products TOGETHER with other amazing ingredients to support the end result.
What about our products?
You can find niacinamide in all of our Thirst Quench products as we use it to boost the hydration effect of hyaluronic acid as well as for long term hydration of the skin. Our Fresh Start Sheet Mask also contains niacinamide to improve hydration in the skin.
Click here to see all products containing niacinamide.
If you are curious for more information on hyaluronic acid and what has been found in different studies, keep reading (we are warning you though, it might get heavy!).
Structure of Niacinamide. Image borrowed from Wikipedia
What does the science say about topically applied niacinamide?
Skin barrier and dry skin:
It is a well known fact that topical niacinamide can improve the moisture content of the skin by a reduction in TEWL. This is possible due to the stabilizing effect niacinamide has on the epidermal barrier function. Studies show that niacinamide leads to an increase in protein synthesis (keratin), stimulates ceramide synthesis, increase free fatty acid levels and raises intercellular NADP levels. In simpler words: niacinamide hydrates the skin, improves the surface structure of the skin, smoothes out wrinkles and can even inhibit photocarcinogenesis.
Using tape stripping on the skin it has been shown that areas treated with formulations containing niacinamide were significantly different to pre-treatment baseline as well as untreated and control treated sites. There was decreased inflammatory activity, decreased TEWL and increased stratum corneum thickness after niacinamide treatment.
Treatment of a cream with 2% niacinamide on atopic dermatitis has shown more effect on skin hydration and barrier function compared to white petrolatum (An occlusive that prevents TEWL).
Anti-inflammatory effects (acne and rosacea):
Studies has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in acne and rosacea. For example has a cream with 2% niacinamide been shown to not only improve the barrier function in the skin, but also reduction in facial erythema in test subjects with rosacea.
When it comes to treatment of acne, niacinamide has been shown to reduce sebum production and in turn reduce the oiliness of the skin. It’s anti-inflammatory properties has also been shown to be beneficial in the treatment of acne. In studies, topical application of a 4% niacinamide has led to significant improvements to acne.
Multiple studies have shown that topical niacinamide can provide a wide range of improvements in the appearance of aging facial skin, such as reduction in the appearance of hyperpigmentation and red blotchiness. Studies also show that niacinamide can reduce fine lines and wrinkles, skin sallowness (yellowing), as well as improve elasticity.
Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) form a part of the skin's immune system. Their primary function is to provide antimicrobial benefits and protect from infections. Recent data indicate that niacinamide treatment can boost AMPs.
In a very interesting study published in 2017, niacinamide was evaluated for anti-microbial benefits on the skin. In this study, formulas containing 1 & 3% niacinamide was tested on the forearm on volunteers for bacterial survival (E. coli & S. aureus) compared to a placebo and a control site. The sites with niacinamide significantly improved skin's own antimicrobial response and provided superior bacterial kill.
To rule out direct antimicrobial action of niacinamide the study included in vitro tests of pure niacinamide added to bacterial growth medium and the niacinamide formulations was also tested on artificial skin. The results showed no direct antimicrobial effect of either in-vitro tests, which suggests that niacinamide, although not antimicrobial itself can boost the activity of AMPs in human skin and therefore provide antimicrobial benefits.
Another interesting fact about niacinamide is that it has been studied for protection against air-pollution. Particular matter (PM) from air pollution can penetrate the skin barrier and induce oxidative stress and inflammation in skin and contribute to skin aging.
It has been shown that niacinamide can supress oxidative stress in skin in an in-vivo study published in 2018. An in-vitro study published in 2019, showed that niacinamide could protect cells against PM2.5 (PM of size <2.5 µm) induced damage. PM2.5 is known to stimulate the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in keratinocytes.
Keep in touch!
Thank you for reading all the way down to the end! Do you like the sound of niacinamide in your skincare? Please let us know in the comments, or why not send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, maybe you have suggestions on what ingredient to write about next? Either way we would really appreciate your feedback!
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