If you are into skincare you have heard about niacinamide. This ingredient is very trendy and the hype is right.
Niacinamide is also named nicotinamide, nicotinic acid amide, 3-pyridine carboxamide. In vivo, it is found as part of NAD (nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide). NAD is a vital molecule of our energetic metabolism. Plant, animals, fungus… use it also.
Niacinamide has been shown to decrease the key elements of the inflammatory response. Niacinamide could be useful to decrease inflammation in acne vulgarism. A double bling investigation has compared 4% niacinamide versus 1% clindamycin for 2 months on 76 patients and showed a reduction in breakouts.
Niacinamide is to consider if you suffer from hyperpigmentation when it is formulated at 5%. It seems that it inhibits the transfer of pigment (melanin) to the keratinocyte. This mechanism is different from Kojic acid or alpha arbutin that block the synthesis of melanin. A random double split study was done in Japan in 1998 showing the reduction of pigmentation after 2 months with 5% niacinamide.
Niacinamide and skin lipids
In my opinion, this is the most interesting effect of niacinamide of the skin and it has been well study. They are 3 different types of lipids in the skin barrier (the stratum corneum): ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acids. Do not confuse them with the lipids in the sebum that coats the skin barrier). In 2000 O.Tanno et al. (in British Association of Dermatologists) have studies the effect of niacinamide on the lipids of the skin barrier. In vitro, they have shown that Niacinamide increases the synthesis of ceramides, cholesterol, and free fatty acid. A part of the study was also conducted on us (4 weeks with 4% niacinamide, on 12 men) and show and a slight increase of ceramides and free fatty acids and decrease of TEWL (transepidermal water loss).
In my opinion, Niacinamide is mostly a skin supportive ingredient that helps the skin barrier to strengthen which is something that we all need. This ingredient is not going to drastically change your skin but help it to restore a healthy skin barrier and keep at bay pigmentation with a daily sunscreen of SPF50+.
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I only put some of the relevant articles.