With so many benefits, it's not surprising that makers of anti-aging products, acne treatments and skin concern products are adding Niacinamide to their formulations. Some products include facial moisturizers, eye creams and anti-aging products for the face and body. It's also an ingredient in some hair shampoos, conditioners and coloring treatments because of its hair conditioning benefits.
Is it safe? According to a study published in the International Journal of Toxicology, niacinamide is not toxic or carcinogenic at levels higher than those found in cosmetic products. It also doesn't sensitize the skin or cause irritation in most people. The Environmental Working Group classifies it as a low hazard cosmetic ingredient.
All in all, niacinamide is a safe skin care ingredient with a variety of benefits. Here's what it treats...
Niacinamide: The Science
- Niacinamide is made from niacin, also known as vitamin B3.
- Niacin is found in all cells and is present in greatest amounts in tissues that are more metabolically active - like the brain, heart, liver and skeletal muscle.
- The body can only make small quantities of this vitamin, so it must come from food sources. A deficiency of niacin leads to a disease called pellagra characterized by diarrhea, dementia and skin problems. Some of the best sources of niacin are fish, poultry, red meat, nuts and whole grains.
- A great skin brightener due to it's excellent cell renewing properties
Niacin is sometimes prescribed as a supplement as a treatment for elevated cholesterol and to reduce the risk of heart disease. It's as effective as some anti-cholesterol medications, although at doses high enough to lower cholesterol it can cause side effects such as itching.
What It Treats:
Niacinamide has the ability to treat some skin conditions including aging skin, acne, psoriasis and rosacea. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it effective for treating acne, psoriasis and rosacea especially, due to it reducing the clogging of dead skin cells with sebum. Studies show that 4% niacinamide gel can dramatically improve the symptoms of acne, but lower percents are advised if you are unsure of your skins tolerance, or it's more the occasional breakout.
Niacinamide isn't just beneficial for younger skin burdened by acne, it also has benefits for more mature skin. There's some evidence that it stimulates cells in the dermis to produce more collagen, a protein that supports skin and gives it its youthful firmness. It's also helpful for treating another problem that's common with mature skin - excessive dryness. According to one study, niacinamide was more effective for preventing moisture loss and dryness than petrolatum, a moisturizing ingredient that creates a tight, occlusive barrier against loss of water. Although effective, petrolatum is a by-product of petroleum, and many people want to avoid petroleum products.
Niacinamide isn't just beneficial for younger skin burdened by acne, it also has benefits for more mature skin.
There's another way niacinamide improves dry skin. It increases the production of ceramides, lipids in the outer layer of the epidermis that shield skin against moisture loss and protect it from bacteria and the environment. Ceramides, along with other lipids like cholesterol and fatty acids, form a protective barrier against water loss, so replacing ceramides lost through aging and the use of harsh cleansing products helps to keep skin moist and supple.
First Aid Beauty are a brand who pack their hydrating products with this ingredient, like the two below to increase moisture and firmness.
Another skin problem that goes along with aging is increased skin pigmentation. It's common for people with more mature skin to complain of age spots and patchy areas of increased pigmentation from years of sun exposure. Niacinamide in concentrations of 4% helps to lighten areas of pigmentation and age spots. It also reduces blotchiness and evens out skin tone while improving skin texture. From treating dry skin to wrinkles, pigmentation and acne breakouts, niacinamide offers a variety of skin benefits.