Niacinamide is a water-soluble amide form of vitamin B3, derived from ammonia.
In the body, niacinamide plays an extremely useful role as it's a building block for the coenzyme NAD - which plays a very important role for multiple oxidation-reduction reactions in your body.
Foods rich in Niacinamide include fish, root vegetables such as sweet potato and parsnips, sunflower seeds and mushrooms. Niacinamide is also added to certain foods such as cereal and can also be taken as a supplement. It can help to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and prevent heart disease.
Niacinamide can also be used in personal care and cosmetics and there are a vast amount of products on the market. But what makes it so desirable?
To start with, it helps it even out the skin tone, brighten and give the skin that glowing look. Niacinamide’s mechanism of action is to inhibit melanosome transport. Melanosome is an organelle that is responsible for the synthesis, storage and transportation of melanin, the biological light absorbing pigment.
Niacinamide can therefore decrease the synthesis of melanin and reduce cutaneous pigmentation. Hydroquinone is the most known skin lightening agent however due to multiple safety issues an alternative is required. Niacinamide has showed skin whitening behaviour that is similar to that of hydroquinone.
Niacinamide can also help to reduce visible signs of ageing. It can help to increase the production of keratin, the fibrous structural protein in the skin, by stimulating protein synthesis. The differentiation of keratinocytes (which make up the basal layer of the skin) is also amplified.
Niacinamide can also help to speed up the synthesis of ceramide. As we age, the levels of the coenzyme NAD diminishes and so by applying niacinamide topically, we will prevent this from occurring. Wrinkles, fine lines and rough surface skin will therefore be reduced. A scientific study saw 50 females apply 5% niacinamide to half the face for a period of 12 weeks. The results showed that hyperpigmented age spots, fine lines, wrinkles were all reduced as well as the increase of elasticity.
Some treatments of acne have some adverse side effects and as antibiotic resistance increases alternatives are required. Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to reduce the development acne lesions. Excess sebum production (one of the main causes of acne) is reduced by niacinamide.
By increasing skin elasticity and reducing the production of sebum, the appearance of enlarged pores be can significantly reduced.
Niacinamide can also prevent dry skin from developing. It prevents the loss of water through the epidermis to the surrounding atmosphere. This will therefore lead to the skin having a greater moisture content.
As well as redness, dryness is also a symptom of rosacea. By improving the skin moisturisation, rosacea will significantly improve. It can also help with the redness and sensitivity of the skin.
Confusion exists on how to use niacinamide and vitamin C together.
Niacinamide is a very stable ingredient and is not affected by pH or heat. It is thought that the combination of niacinamide and vitamin C will produce an undesirable byproduct called nicotinic acid. However this will only occur if the two ingredients are heated to an extremely high temperature for a considerable amount of time. It will also only occur if a pure version of vitamin C (l ascorbi acicd) is used.
At Facetheory we use sodium ascorbyl phosphate - a stable form of vitamin C which works best at pH 6 - as does niacinamide.
To summarise, niacinamide is an extremely versatile ingredient that can help a huge range of skin problems.