There are many skin benefits of niacinamide and a number of reasons you should add it into your skincare routine. So what is niacinamide, and what can it do for you and your skin?
Niacinamide is a water-soluble form of Vitamin B3. When applied to the skin, it supports the skins barrier function. This reduces the amount of water lost through the skin and improves hydration . Niacinamide also increases the production of keratin (a protein that protects skin cells from damage or stress) and ceramides (fat molecules that hold skin cells together) .
Topical niacinamide can reduce facial wrinkling, blotchiness, brown spots, and skin yellowing . It can also treat acne by controlling facial oil and reducing inflammation .
3 Skin Benefits of Niacinamide
Niacinamide can help reduce some types of skin cancer.
For example, twice daily treatment with 500mg oral niacinamide reduces the development of non-melanoma skin cancers by 23%, when taken for 12 months. However, the anti-cancer benefits stop when treatment is discontinued .
Precancerous skin changes, such as actinic keratoses, are also reduced with oral niacinamide , by as much as 29-35% . In addition, twice-daily use of topical 1% niacinamide reduces precancerous skin changes by 22% after 3 months. Although, there appears to be no difference in the percentage of precancerous skin changes after 6 months of treatment .
Niacinamide has many anti-aging benefits .
For example, in one study, 50 women applied 5% niacinamide to one half of their face for 12 weeks.
Facial images were taken at the beginning of the study and at 4, 8, and 12 weeks. Both the women and the assessors were unaware of which side of the face had been treated (double-blind) and the treated side was randomly assigned.
There was a noticeable improvement in skin appearance with the application of 5% niacinamide. Skin appeared less yellow (sallow) and fine lines, wrinkles, blotchiness, and brown spots were reduced. Skin elasticity was also improved .
While this suggests that niacinamide can have anti-aging benefits in multiple areas, it is important to note that the study was funded by a cosmetics manufacturer. Thus, we have to consider issues of bias. Furthermore, only white women were included in this study, so any benefits observed may only apply to Caucasian skin.
However, other skin types can also be benefited by niacinamide. For example, the same method was used in another study that treated the eye area of 30 Japanese women with 4% niacinamide topical treatment. In this study, 64% of the women saw improvements in skin appearance and wrinkle reduction . So, niacinamide can benefit multiple skin types.
Acne has four main causes which you can read more about here. Topical niacinamide is as effective as clindamycin for treating acne  and can improve acne by 82% . Although, there appears to be no added benefit in using the two together . Considering the concern for antibiotic resistance, it is important to reduce the use of antimicrobials where possible. For this reason, niacinamide could be considered in acne treatment instead of topical antibiotics. It is particularly useful as an acne treatment due to its ability to drastically reduce inflammation .
A topical 4% niacinamide gel reduced the number of pustules, papules, and comedones when applied for 8 weeks . In 100 Japanese subjects, 2% niacinamide application over a four-week period led to a reduction in the amount of oil secreted by facial oil glands. However, in 30 Caucasian there was no such reduction .
So What Can Niacinamide Do For You?
Well, as explained above, there are many skin benefits of niacinamide. Research shows that niacinamide can help prevent skin cancer, reduce signs of aging, and improve symptoms of acne. It is an all-rounder, suitable for nearly everyone, and a ‘must-have’ ingredient for skin health. The benefits of niacinamide don’t stop there though, niacinamide can help improve acne rosacea and protect skin from ultraviolet and infrared damage.
Therefore, niacinamide is an essential addition to your skincare routine.
Thinking of Incorporating Niacinamide Into Your Skincare Routine?
Here are a few of the best niacinamide options out there. Please note that these are affiliate links.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
TruSkin Naturals Vitamin C + Super Serum
Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Niacinamide
- Gehring, W. (2004). ‘Nicotinic acid/niacinamide’. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(2), 88-93.
- Bissett, D., Miyamoto, K., Sun, P., Li, J. & Berge, C. (2004). ‘Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin’. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 26, 231-238.
- Shalita, A., Smith, J., Parish et al (1995). ‘Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. International Journal of Dermatology, 34, 434-437.
- Shahmoradi, Z., Iraji, F., Siadat, A. & Ghorbaini, A. (2013). ‘Comparison of topical 5% nicotinamide gel versus 2% clindamycin gel in the treatment of the mild-moderate acne vulgaris: a double-blinded randomized clinical trial’. Journal of Res Med Sci, 18, 115-117.
- Khodaeiani, E., Fouladi, R., Amirnia, M et al (2013). ‘Topical 4% nicotinamide vs. 1% clindamycin in moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris. International Journal of Dermatology, 52, 999-1004.
- Emanuele, E., Bertona, M., Altabas, K et al (2012). ‘Anti-inflammatory effects of a topical preparation containing nicotinamide, retinol, and 7-dehydrocholesterol in patients with acne: a gene expression study. Clinical and Cosmetic Investigations in Dermatology, 5, 33-37.
- Chen, A., Martin, A., Choy, B., Fernandez-Penas, P., Dalziell, R., McKenzie, C., Scolyer, R., Dhillon, H., Vardy, J., Kricker, A., St. George, G. & Chinniah, N. (2015). ‘A Phase 3 Randomized Trial of Nicotinamide for Skin-Cancer Chemoprevention’. The New England Journal of Medicine, 373, 1618-1626.
- Surjana, D., Halliday, G., Martin, A., Moloney, F. & Damian, D. (2012). ‘Oral nicotinamide reduces actinic keratosis in phase II double-blinded randomized controlled trials. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 132(5), 1497-1500.
- Forbat, E, Al-Niaimi, F. & Ali, F. (2017). ‘Use of nicotinamide in dermatology’. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 42(2), https://doi.org/10.1111/ced.13021
- Moloney, F., Vestergaard, M., Radojkovic, B. & Damian, D. (2010). ‘Randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled study to assess the effect of topical 1% nicotinamide on actinic keratoses’. British Journal of Dermatology, 162(5), https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09659.x
- Bissett, D., Oblong, J. & Berge, C. (2006). ‘Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance’. Dermatologic Surgery, 31(1), https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1524-4725.2005.31732
- Kawada, A., Konishi, N., Oiso, N., Kawara, S. & Date, A. (2008). ‘Evaluation of anti-wrinkle effects of a novel cosmetic containing niacinamide’. The Journal of Dermatology, 35 (10), https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1346-8138.2008.00537.x
- Dos, S., Barbhuiya, J., Jana, S. & Dey, S. (2003). ‘Comparative evaluation of clindamycin phosphate 1% and clindamycin phosphate 1% with nicotinamide gel 4% in the treatment of acne vulgaris’. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 69(1), 8-9.
- Kaymak, Y. & Onder, M. (2008). ‘An investigation of efficacy of topical niacinamide for the treatment of mild to moderate acne vulgaris’. Journal of the Turkish Academy of Dermatologists, 2(4), https://www.jtad.org/2008/4/jtad82402a.pdf
- Draelos, Z., Matsubara, A. & Smiles, K. (2006). ‘The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production’. Journal of Cosmetic Laser Therapy, 8, pp.96-101.