There are so many amazing skincare ingredients fighting for our affections these days, yet few are as widely respected as niacinamide, otherwise known as vitamin B3. With such a variety of scientifically proven skin-revitalizing properties, it's what dermatologists call "magical."
Scientists believe that niacin (and therefore niacinamide/nicotinamide) may be effective because it’s a precursor to two super-important biochemical cofactors: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+). Both of these molecules are integral to the chemical reactions that your cells—including skin cells—need to repair damage, propagate, and function normally. By giving your body the precursor, the thought is that it allows your body to make more NAD+; in turn, this fuels your cells and also allows your body to absorb and neutralize more free radicals.
Niacinamide strengthens the skin’s barrier.
Skin performs one of the most essential functions possible, yet we rarely stop to think about how it serves as the only barrier between our body and the outside world. The stronger and healthier that barrier is, the less vulnerable we are to irritants and environmental pollutants. Niacinamide helps the outer layer of the skin lock in moisture and fortifies its barrier function by increasing the production of ceramides (fats that maintain the skin barrier). As a result, the skin is less susceptible to becoming dull or rough and appears refreshed.
Reduces Inflammation and acne.
Niacinamide’s anti-inflammatory properties make it an attractive treatment for skin conditions marked by inflammation, like acne. In fact, in two double-blind studies—one published in 2013 and the other published in 1995, both in the International Journal of Dermatology—a topical preparation of 4 percent niacinamide treated moderate acne just as well as 1 percent clindamycin (a topical antibiotic commonly prescribed to acne patients) when applied twice daily for eight weeks.
Smoothes fine lines and wrinkles.
While more research needs to be done, preliminary findings on niacinamide's ability to diminish fine lines are promising. In one study published in 2004 in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, researchers had 50 women (all white and between the ages of 40 and 60) apply a moisturizer containing 5 percent niacinamide to one half of their face and a placebo moisturizer to the other half for 12 weeks. Their results showed that the halves of their faces receiving niacinamide had significant improvements in hyperpigmentation spots, fine lines, and wrinkles compared to the control side.
Adding niacinamide to your beauty routine is easy and poses few risks. If you tend to have dry skin or suffer from moderate acne, we can't recommend it enough.