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The beauty of niacinamide

 Niacinamide is one of the “it” beauty ingredients today (Shutterstock)

You might have heard of niacinamide, one of the “it” beauty ingredients today. Although it has become popular in recent times, niacinamide is not new in skincare.

A form of vitamin B3 (niacin), niacinamide has been a fixture in commercial cosmetic formulations for decades. You might also find it listed as nicotinamide.

The Science behind It

In skincare, niacinamide is said to help in helping manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkling.

Scientists say that niacinamide is effective due to it being a precursor to two important biochemical co-factors that are central to the chemical reactions that the cells need to repair damage, propagate, and function normally.

By supplying your body with niacinamide, therefore, you enable it to produce the biochemicals needed for important functions. You also enable your cells – including skin cells – to proliferate and absorb and neutralise more free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules that cause cell damage. Niacinamide works by stabilising them and preventing cell damage.

Evidence also shows that topical application of niacinamide helps increase the production of ceramides – lipids that help maintain the skin’s protective barrier. This contributes to the ingredient’s topical effects on fine lines and wrinkles.

Acne and other inflammatory conditions

Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory properties, which makes it a useful weapon in fighting acne, rosacea, and other inflammatory skin conditions.

In an eight-week study published in the International Journal of Dermatology in 2013, researchers found that a topical preparation of four per cent niacinamide treated moderate acne as effectively as 1 per cent clindamycin (a topical antibiotic commonly prescribed to acne patients). The study subjects had to apply the preparation twice daily for eight weeks.

A different study also found that topical application of two per cent niacinamide helps inhibit oil production, which is helpful for those fighting acne. In addition, dermatologists prefer prescribing niacinamide to acne patients because it is relatively non-irritating compared to many other anti-acne treatments.

If you suffer from acne or other inflammatory skin conditions, you can also benefit from oral niacinamide supplements. Oral niacinamide have also been shown to reduce inflammation associated with mild to moderate acne and rosacea.

Limited evidence also shows that topical niacinamide helps repair the skin’s protective outer layer, adding to its anti-inflammatory benefits.

 Niacinamide is said to help in helping manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkling (Shutterstock)

Wrinkles and pigmentation Issues

Like we’ve already stated, niacinamide helps stabilise free radicals in the cells, slowing down cell damage that leads to premature aging.

A 2004 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Science reported significant improvements on pigmentation spots, fine lines and wrinkles in patients using moisturiser containing 5 per cent niacinamide for 12 weeks.

However, another study published in 2011 in Dermatology Research and Practice showed that applying a 4 per cent niacinamide formulation was less effective than 4 per cent hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is often considered the gold standard for treating melasma.

In the eight-week study, 44 per cent of the 27 patients had good-to-excellent improvement with niacinamide and 55 per cent saw the same with hydroquinone.

This means that while niacinamide was quite effective, hydroquinone was won the battle. However, there were fewer side effects reported with niacinamide.

If your main skincare concern is pigmentation or fine lines and wrinkles, however, you will probably have better results with prescription retinoids and antioxidants such as Vitamin C compared to niacinamide. But niacinamide is an advisable alternative if retinoids and Vitamin C creams irritate your skin.

Incorporating niacinamide into your routine

Adding niacinamide into your skincare routine is simple and with relatively low risks. All you need to do is buy a product that contains niacinamide and start applying as directed.

If you are particularly sensitive, you might experience some irritation which will go away with continued use. If irritation persists, discontinue niacinamide use and consult a dermatologist to rule out other causes.

Product recommendations: CeraVe PM Face Moisturiser, The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, Olay Wrinkle Correction Serum with Vitamin B3+ Collagen Peptides.

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