Question: What is niacinamide and what can it do for my skin? I bought a moisturizer that promised to lighten dark patches. Then I read about another product that claimed niacinamide improves acne AND smooths fine lines. Can niacinamide do all of these things? None of them?
Answer: Niacinamide aka nicotinic acid is a form of vitamin B3 (aka niacin). This vitamin is essential for healthy skin, nerves and digestion. Lack of niacin can lead to skin inflammation and nerve damage and over time severe lack of nacin will lead to pellegra.
On the surface of the skin, niacinamide has a wide range of benefits. There are good clinical studies that show nicinamide can reduce inflammation of acne. In fact a study showed that a 4-5% niacinamide gel is as effective as clindamycin in reducing acne– and without the concern of developing bacterial resistance. Nice.
But wait there is more. Niacinamide also inhibits melanin production. Over time, is can effectively reduce splotches of melasma and sun damage.Niacinamide also does indeed promote cell growth and repair that leads to firmer, smoother skin.
And I have saved the best for last– niacinamide stimulates the production of both ceramides and hyaluronic acid. These two super natural moisturizes decline as we get older– a major cause of increased dryness. Net result? Niacinamide can certainly claim to be a great moisturizer.
Niacinamide– THe Big “But”
On paper, niacinamide seems like your skin’s new best friend. But there is a problem. You need a 4-5% formulation and at that level it can be irritating and turn your skin quite red. Many commercial products avoid the issue by using only a very small amount of niacinamide– which unfortunately produces very small results.
One brand, Nia24 has modified the niacinamide molecule to reduce irritation yet maintain benefits. Nia 24 products have 4-5% niacinamide and provide both impressive clinical studies to back up their claims and before and after photos. Nia24 is available online and is often sold by dermatologists and plastic surgeons.