• Niacinamide B3

Niacinamide (Nicotinamide)

Last week I wrote about lavender and that I’d rather have it in my garden than on my face. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is an ingredient that I do really like using, and also recommend to people. But what does it actually do?

For dry dehydrated skin

Niacinamide is responsible for the production of so named ceramides and free fatty acids; these substances strengthen the barrier function of the skin. Through this the skin loses less moisture and is better prepared against external influences. Because it lightly exfoliates there is less chance of flaking. Through regular use the skin becomes smoother and more radiant and fine lines become less noticeable.

For irritated skin

Niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a very suitable ingredient for people who suffer from acne, rosacea or redness. It slows down the production of histamine; this substance causes for example redness and itching from insect bites. Other substances that cause an inflammatory reaction (redness, itching, swelling) are also halted. There are a number of sound and independent investigations that have been carried out which show that Niacinamide has a soothing effect on the skin. Even Dermatologists use it sometimes in order to calm down certain skin conditions.

For acne

Apart from the fact that Niacinamide has an anti-inflammatory effect, it also slows down sebum production. In 1995 Dr. Alan Shalita demonstrated that this ingredient really helped in treating acne (Int. J. Dermatol. 34[6]:434-37, 1995).

For pigmentation

Two investigations (represented at the yearly convention of the American Society of Dermatology) showed that 5% Niacinamide can reduce surface pigment spots.

For sun

As if this isn’t enough, it has also been discovered that this ingredient protects the skin against sun damage. Tests carried out on mice who were treated with Niacinamide showed that they had a 70% less chance of getting skin cancer.

Before everyone makes a mad dash for the shops to buy products containing Niacinamide: the effects of Niacinamide are only seen when concentrations of 4 to 5% are used . If ‘Niacinamide’ is not shown in the first third of the ingredients list then it is almost certainly a lower concentration and you won’t really see any effects from this. Sadly a 4-5% concentration is far too expensive for many manufacturers and they prefer to advertise new “unique” ingredients with interesting names (whose effectiveness has not been established!). It remains complicated…

Regards Jetske.

(Dr. Jetske Ultee- Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology)

You can read about
percentages in products in the blog ‘Angel Dusting‘,
more about the effectiveness of a cream,
burning skin and
Vitamin C.

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