The popularity of niacinamide has increased significantly in the recent period, and it is found in more and more premium skin care products. But let's see what are the reasons for its popularity: efficient, versatile, safe, stable, easy to use. The positive effects of niacinamide on the skin have been widely documented, and numerous publications about it can be found in scientific journals.
Niacinamide, a valuable and versatile cosmetic active ingredient
What is niacinamide?
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin that our body also produces. It plays an essential role in the proper functioning of the nervous system, digestive system, circulation and skin. Niacinamide is the biologically active form of niacin (vitamin B3). Niacin is found in many foods. Its main sources are lean meats (chicken, turkey without the skin), fish, liver, oil seeds, yeast, bran, eggs, vegetables, dry legumes, avocados, figs, plums and whole grain products. It is easily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and the excess amount is excreted through the kidneys. In the presence of vitamins B1, B2 and B6, the liver can produce it from an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to niacin in the body, and approximately 2/3 of the body's niacinamide is derived from tryptophan.
It has been used in dermatology for over 45 years to treat a variety of conditions including acne, rosacea, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, hyperpigmentation, autoimmune blistering skin diseases, and the treatment/prevention of photoaging and sun sensitivity.
We have tried to collect the excellent properties of niacinamide in a single bouquet and support them with research and references.
- Improves the function of the skin barrier
- Topically applied niacinamide increases ceramide levels in the skin (1).
- Niacinamide increases the synthesis of skin barrier proteins such as involucrin, filaggrin and keratin. Filaggrin is essential in the formation of the skin's natural moisturizing factors (NMF) (2).
- Niacinamide reduces potential skin irritation caused by sodium lauryl sulfate and dimethyl sulfoxide (3).
- Moisturizes the skin
- 2% topically applied niacinamide has proven to be more effective than paraffin or petroleum jelly in reducing skin water loss and in maintaining and increasing skin hydration (4).
- In an experiment, the effects of two moisturizing creams containing niacinamide and glycerin were investigated, which showed significant differences compared to other commercial moisturizers: a significant improvement was achieved without any other treatment on dry skin (5).
- Niacinamide softens wrinkles, a super antiaging active ingredient
- A 12-week clinical trial with 5% niacinamide cream showed a 21% improvement in the smoothing of fine lines, 14% more even skin, and 15% clearer and more closed pores (6).
- After using 4% niacinamide cream, 64% of subjects reported marked or moderate improvement in wrinkles. (7).
- Niacinamide has spot lightening properties
- Niacinamide 5% significantly reduced fine lines/wrinkles, hyperpigmentation lesions, and red spots compared to the control group. (8).
- Good or excellent skin lightening activity was observed with 4% niacinamide cream in 44% of participants (9).
- Niacinamide is anti-acne
- Using 4% niacinamide, 80% of volunteers reported significant improvement after 8 weeks, while 68% of volunteers using 1% clindamycin believed they experienced improvement after eight weeks (11, 12).
- Niacinamide moderates sebum production and reduces pore size
- Applying 2% niacinamide cream for four weeks significantly reduced sebum and pores in one study. (13).
- Niacinamide has an antioxidant effect
- Niacinamide has better antioxidant activity against singlet oxygen (highly reactive, the most destructive type of free radicals) than ascorbic acid or tocopherol (14).
- Topical application of niacinamide increases the reduced forms of NADPH, which have strong antioxidant properties, making the skin more resilient (15).
- Niacinamide can improve the microbiome and increase the production of antimicrobial peptides in the skin (16, 17, 19).
- Niacinamide reduces skin irritation
Can niacinamide really cause sensitivity? When?
Niacinamide is a stable active ingredient that remains in solution and is not sensitive to light. At an inappropriate pH, hydrolysis may occur, which produces nicotinic acid. However, this is an irritating substance, it can really cause skin irritation. That's why it's worth paying attention to where you include it in your routine and what other material you use it with.
If the cosmetics manufacturer uses pure and high-quality Niacinamide, which contains less than 100 ppm of nicotinic acid (nicotinic acid is a strong skin irritant), then it very rarely happens that an optimal amount of 2-5% nia is precipitated.
- Tanno O, Ota Y, Kitamura N, et al. Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of Ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier. Br J Dermatol. 2000;143:524-531.
- Bissett DL (2002) Topical Niacinamide and barrier enhancement. Cutis 70S:8–12.
- Bissett DL (2002) Topical Niacinamide and barrier enhancement. Cutis 70S:8–12.
- International Journal of Dermatology, March 2005, pages 197-202.
- Christman JC, et. al. Two randomized, controlled, comparative studies of the stratum corneum integrity benefits of two cosmetic Niacinamide/glycerin body moisturizers vs. conventional body moisturizers. J Drugs Dermatol. (2012).
- Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Saud A, et al. Topical Niacinamide provides skin aging appearance benefits while enhancing barrier function. In: Elsner P, Maibach HI. (Eds,) Cosmeceuticals and Active Cosmetics, 2nd edn. New York: Taylor and Francis Group, 2005,421-440.
- Kawada A, Konishi N, Oiso N, Kawara S, Date A., Evaluation of anti-wrinkle effects of a novel cosmetic containing niacinamide. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2004 Oct;26(5):231-8.
- Bissett DL, et. al. Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin. Int J Cosmet Sci. (2004).
- Moncada B. A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma. Dermatol Res Pract. 2011:379173.
- Kimball AB, et. al. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. (2010).
- Shalita AR, Smith JG, Parish LC, Sofman MS, Chalker DK, Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Int J Dermatol. 1995 Jun;34(6):434-7.
- Griffiths CEM. Nicotinamide 4% gel for the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. J Dermatol Treat. 1996;6(Suppl 1):8–10.
- Bissett DL, Topical niacinamide and barrier enhancement. Cutis 70S:8–12 (2002).
- Yasuhiro Nishida, Eiji Yamashita and Wataru Miki, Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System. Carotenoid Science, Vol.II, 2007, 16-20.
- Wozniacka A, Sysa-Jedrzejowska A, Adamus J, Gebicki J. Topical application of NADH for the treatment of rosacea and contact dermatitis. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2003;28:61–63.
- EP2742942, Unilever, 6/18/14.
- Niacinamide leave-on formulation provides long-lasting protection against bacteria in-vivo, Ms, Mruthyunjaya1, Shilpa Vora1, Jyoti, AAD 2018 Poster.
- L’Oréal US 8858968, 10/14/14.
- Response of the skin microbiome to emollient treatment in patients with atopic dermatitis-L’Oreal (AAD Poster 2016).
- Franz TJ. Percutaneous absorption: on the relevance of in vitro data. J Invest Dermatol. (1975). Feldmann RJ, Maibach HI. Absorption of some organic compounds through the skin in man. J Invest Dermatol. (1970).
- In vitro Percutaneous Absorption of Niacinamide and Phytosterols and in vivo Evaluation of their Effect on Skin Barrier Recover, Alessia Offerta1, Francesco Bonina1, Franco Gasparri2, Andrea Zanardi2, Lucia Micicchè1 and Carmelo Puglia, Current Drug Delivery, 2016, 13, 111-120.