Niacinamide, an Ally of Skin Care

Vitamin B3 or niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that can greatly improve skin appearance. Some even believe it to be determinant in the treatment of some dermatological problems.
Niacinamide, an Ally of Skin Care

Last update: 22 September, 2021

Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide or vitamin B3, is present in many ingredients such as yeast, meat, fish, milk, eggs, vegetables, beans, and cereals. Most B vitamin complex supplements also contain it.

This substance can naturally form in the body through the dietary intake of niacin. Don’t mistake it for NADH, nicotinamide riboside, inositol nicotinate, or tryptophan though.

You may not be aware of it but this vitamin plays a key role in the development and function of body cells. It also helps transform food into energy. As if that wasn’t enough, studies reveal it’s also good for the skin. Continue reading to find out more!

The skincare properties of niacinamide

The oral intake of niacinamide through food and supplements is the most common. It helps prevent vitamin B3 deficiency and related conditions, such as pellagra. This disease is the result of the deficiency of certain vitamins. Furthermore, it leads to the appearance of skin spots and alterations in the nervous and digestive systems.

As a study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery concludes, niacinamide, especially in topical form, significantly improves skin appearance.

The main health properties of niacinamide

It reduces hyperpigmentation and melasma

Niacinamide significantly decreases hyperpigmentation and increases skin luminosity. At least according to a study published in Dermatology Research and Practice. They say it’s due to the fact that niacinamide interferes with the interaction between keratinocytes and melanocytes that inhibits melanogenesis.

A woman with a skin problem.
Niacinamide helps reduce spots and melasma.

It decreases acne

There’s evidence of a significant reduction of acne in people using niacinamide topically. However, oral nicotinamide can also help overcome this condition.

These effects are due to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to decrease sebum production, according to a review published in Dermatologic Therapy.

It improves skin barrier function

Niacinamide can help improve the skin barrier because it increases the synthesis of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol. In turn, it decreases water loss in dry skin, which improves its moisture content.

Niacinamide mitigates erythema and improves skin tone

This substance can reduce both facial redness and yellowness due to its antioxidant properties. This is because they help inhibit oxidative processes that produce yellowish-brown compounds that accumulate in the skin as aging occurs.

It also tones down rosacea due to its ability to improve skin barrier function.

It decreases sebum production

Vitamin B3 helps reduce sebum production in about two to four weeks. Researchers believe it’s because it decreases the synthesis of triglycerides and fatty acids (two of the main lipid compounds in the sebaceous glands).

It minimizes large pores

Niacinamide can improve the appearance of pores by increasing skin elasticity. In addition, it can diminish imperfections associated with enlarged pores, such as blackheads, thanks to its sebum-regulating properties.

A progressive decrease of pore enlargement.
Niacinamide helps improve the appearance of enlarged pores due to its ability to regulate sebum production.

It has anti-aging benefits

Wrinkles, fine lines, and elasticity greatly improve with the regular use of topical niacinamide, as it increases the production of collagen and other types of proteins. It can even inhibit excess glycosaminoglycans (GAGs).

It’s an antioxidant

Niacinamide can protect skin cells from oxidative damage and, in turn, helps repair DNA damage by acting as an antioxidant. It works by inhibiting reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can cause the oxidation of lipids, proteins (such as collagen or elastin), and DNA.

It protects against the sun

Niacinamide has photo-immunoprotective effects when applied to the skin. Thus, it can repair UV-radiation-induced DNA damage by reducing solar lesions in keratinocytes and other skin cells. In addition, it’s easily absorbed and the chances of it causing irritation are low due to its neutral pH.

Always consult a dermatologist before using niacinamide

As you can see, niacinamide has compelling skincare benefits, all backed up by evidence. However, you must consult a dermatologist before using it — either orally or topically. This kind of professional should be able to establish the safe doses for your particular case and also give you other recommendations to keep your skin in optimal condition.

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  • Navarrete-Solís J, Castanedo-Cázares JP, Torres-Álvarez B, et al. A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma. Dermatol Res Pract. 2011;2011:379173. doi:10.1155/2011/379173
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