A certain nutrient in the beauty innovation world has been gaining popularity for its favorable effects on the skin. It’s called niacinamide or nicotinamide. It’s a form of niacin—also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid. Niacin occurs naturally in animals and plants, and is also added to various foods as a vitamin supplement.
Here’s an easy way to remember niacinamide:
NI from niacin
AC from acid
IN from vitamin
Niacinamide is often used in place of niacin as they are essentially the same nutrient. They are both forms of the Vitamin B complex, yet their pharmacologic properties vary. For example, niacinamide doesn’t dilate the blood vessels and niacin does. Both niacin and niacinamide can help with aid functions in the body from the digestive system to the nervous system.1
Niacinamide is found in many everyday foods we all consume. That sandwich you’re eating? Niacinamide is probably in it—especially if that sammie includes meat, eggs, green veggies, beans, mushrooms, nuts, and cereal grains.
Why Do I Need Niancinamide?
Our bodies are capable of producing niacinamide naturally. That’s the great thing about niacin. To boot, if taken as a supplement, it’s easily absorbed. And, since niacin and niacinamide are soluble in water, the body can remove excess through urination easily.
These nutrients play vital roles in keeping your body in healthy condition. Without niacinamide and niacin, the body cannot maintain healthy cells, and fats and sugars cannot function properly. Like other B vitamins, niacin helps to produce energy by breaking down carbs, fats, and proteins. It also regulates blood sugar levels. Additionally, niacinamide plays a role in cleaning the liver, helping it release harmful chemicals.2
Is niacinamide heart-healthy? While it is not believed to reduce or eliminate heart problems, niacinamide may be beneficial to heart disease patients because of link to preventing clotting. Niacinamide may also be helpful for patients with osteoarthritis, as it improves flexibility and reduces pain and swelling of joints.3
So, what happens if we don’t get enough niacinamide? Niacin deficiency is not something most of us are familiar with these days. Many years ago, however, it was a major issue. In the early 20th century, a condition called “pellagra” was common among people with niacin deficiency in the Western world. Pellagra is a disease that causes skin irritation, diarrhea, delusions, or mental confusions.
Fortunately, today, pellagra is much less common, since niacin is added to many foods. There are still some people who may develop the condition. People suffering from alcoholism, anorexia, or HIV/AIDS may have a greater tendency to develop the disease. Also, pellagra is more common in areas where people have a lot of corn in their diet.4
Niacinamide in Skincare and Cosmetics
As mentioned earlier, niacinamide has been gaining a reputation in the skincare industry for its beneficial beauty-boosting traits. Today, many doctors are trying out ways in which niacinamide could be used in dermatology. Many creams in the market claim that niacin amide properties can improve or fix skin conditions, but not all of these benefits have not been studied enough to gain approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).5
In 2005, the focus on niacinamide incorporated in skin care began as studies started to emerge showing how niacinamide cream might be beneficial for skin elasticity and overall appearance. Additional studies seemed to support the idea that the chemical compound helped to aid in the appearance of acne or inflammation on the skin and increase the effectiveness of sunscreen in protecting cells.6
Today, niacinamide can be found in a wide variety of anti-aging skin care creams, facial moisturizers, eye creams, serums, and lotions. It is also found in some shampoos, conditioners, and coloring treatments.
Proven Benefits of Niacinamide?
It’s no mystery why makers of anti-aging skin care products are adding niacinamide to their formulas. Niacinamide is showing promise as a great skincare ingredient. Will it transform the skincare industry? Perhaps. But let’s go with what we know presently.
Niacinamide prevents the skin from over-absorbing potentially damaging UV rays.7 How? It suppresses melanin (a natural substance in the body responsible for the color and UV absorption of the skin) from reaching the surface. This may help to prevent age spots and hyperpigmentation. One study showed that applying niacinamide cream to the skin reduced spots, hyperpigmented areas, and helped to reduce fine lines. It also helped to improve red blotchiness.8
Wrinkles and Fine Lines
The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology says that niacinamide improves the skin’s structure, smoothing out wrinkles and prevents photocarcinogenesis (development of cancer cells by illumination). In 2003, a study revealed that adding five percent of niacinamide to moisturizer made “significant improvements” to other skin blemishes.9
Rosacea is a common, chronic skin condition that is characterized by flushing of the facial skin. What causes it? Rosacea can be caused by abnormalities in facial blood vessels, a microscopic mite known as demodex folliculorum, H. pylori bacteria, and family history.10 Lots of different factors can affect or trigger rosacea, including extreme weather, alcohol, stress, emotional anxiety, and spicy food. Over time, if left untreated, rosacea worsens.
Rosacea is incurable, but avoiding triggers can help. Applying prescription medications, including creams and ointments, may also help.
By acting as a skin barrier, research has revealed that niacinamide may help with rosacea. This may help relieve some rosacea symptoms, including flushing or blushing of the skin. In a study published in the August 2005 issue of “Cutis” by Wake Forest University, data showed that the application of niacinamide based moisturizer to the skin lessened the symptoms of rosacea. Coincidentally, the University of Pittsburgh had similar results.11
If you’re suffering from adult acne or pimples, then niacinamide just might be what you need. Topical creams with niacinamide properties have been shown to be effective in helping improve acne. Niacinamide research has documented studies showing favorable results related to acne among women.12
But how, you ask?
Vitamin B3 strengthens cellular bonds and tightens skin. This makes it harder for acne to take root and develop. According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, a study verifies this evidence. Researchers have found that the tightening of the skin has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help to keep acne breakouts at bay.13
Repairs Skin Damage
As mentioned earlier, niacinamide is believed to help prevent photocarcinogenesis. This is a fancy term, but it essentially means the creation of cancer cells by exposure to light. How can niacinamide help us fight skin damage? One study showed that it may help to repair the direct and oxidative damage in human skin. It may also be able to stop negative effects of exposure to ultraviolet radiation, or UVR – a key factor in the development of abnormal skin cell growth.14
Who Should Use Products with Niacinamide?
Anyone who is interested in anti-aging products for skin may benefit from using products containing niacinamide. As we’ve established, this is a workhorse of an ingredient, offering potential benefits for everything from wrinkles and fine lines to hyperpigmentation.
In addition, those suffering from specific skin conditions such as moderate to severe acne and rosacea could reap potential benefits from using products containing niacinamide.
Precautions of Niacin & Niacinamide
People with low blood pressure are advised to be careful in treating themselves with niacinamide, as it may cause blood pressure to drop. Niacin and niacinamide are also dangerous for people who are undergoing surgery. These patients are typically advised to stop taking niacin weeks before their operation.15
In general, niacinamide, as a form of Vitamin B, has health-boosting benefits—including beautifying your visage. That’s why it’s a key ingredient in our Crepe Correcting Body Complex cream that helps smooth the appearance of age-related crepey skin. This nutrient in our anti-aging topical can help increase production of collagen and protein synthesis in the skin to create a firmer, more supple skin surface.
2 Bradford A. Niacin (Vitamin B3): Benefits & Side Effects. Live Science. 2015. Accessed September 30, 2016.
3 Jonas WB e. The effect of niacinamide on osteoarthritis: a pilot study. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
4 Ngan V. Pellagra | DermNet New Zealand. Dermnetnzorg. 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
5 Niacin and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) : MedlinePlus Supplements. Medlineplusgov. 2015. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/924.html. Accessed September 30, 2016.
6 Sarkar R, Arora P, Garg K. Cosmeceuticals for hyperpigmentation: What is available?. Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 2013;6(1):4. doi:10.4103/0974-2077.110089.
7 Ganceviciene R, Liakou A, Theodoridis A, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis C. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology. 2012;4(3):308-319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804.
8 Bissett DL e. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2005. Accessed September 30, 2016.
9 Bissett D, Miyamoto K, Sun P, Li J, Berge C. Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin1. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2004;26(5):231-238. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.2004.00228.x.
10 Nordqvist C. Rosacea: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments. Medical News Today. 2016. Accessed September 30, 2016.
11 Draelos ZD e. Niacinamide-containing facial moisturizer improves skin barrier and benefits subjects with rosacea. – PubMed – NCBI. Ncbinlmnihgov. 2005. Accessed September 30, 2016.
12 Kaymak YÖnder M. An Investigation of Efficacy of To pical Niacinamide for the Treatment of Mild and Moderate Acne Vulgaris. J Turk Acad Dermatol. 2008.
13 Gehring W. Nicotinic acid/niacinamide and the skin. J Cosmet Dermat. 2004;3(2):88-93. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2130.2004.00115.x.
14 Ranaweera A. Nicotinamide | DermNet New Zealand. Dermnetnzorg. 2012. Accessed September 30, 2016.
15 Niacin and niacinamide (Vitamin B3) : MedlinePlus Supplements. Medlineplusgov. 2016. Available at: https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/924.html#Action. Accessed September 30, 2016.