In 2020, the talk of the town among skincare experts and enthusiasts alike, was niacinamide. Even though this effective and scientifically proven ingredient has been used in cosmetic products for years, only very recently it finally received all the attention it deserves. This is completely normal, since niacinamide is not only uniquely potent when it comes to balancing the oil production of the skin but it also prevents it from dehydration, reduces the size of the pores, calms irritations, fights eczema, redness, and signs of aging. It seems that this versatile ingredient has something to offer for everyone, no matter what their skin type is.
What is niacinamide and how does it work?
Niacinamide or nicotinamide is one of the main forms of vitamin B3. According to scientific research, niacinamide is this effective because it is the precursor (a chemical compound that participates in a chemical reaction that produces another compound) to two extremely important biochemical cofactors. These cofactors are nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NAPD+). These complicated-sounding molecules are critically important to the chemical reactions in our cells (including skin cells). They are needed to repair damage, fight free radicals and ensure that the vital processes in the cells happen as smoothly as possible. A considerable part of these reactions could not occur at all without NAD+ that our cells cannot make without niacinamide. Impressive to say the least. Unlike many organic compounds that are needed for the optimal functioning of our skin and other organs, vitamin B3 is not made by our bodies themselves therefore we need to get it from outside sources. Since B complex vitamins are water-soluble, we need to replenish their reserves daily. Luckily, niacinamide is effective whether we get it from our diet, supplements, or topical cosmetic products.
What can niacinamide do for the skin?
1) Niacinamide strengthens the immune system of the skin by maintaining and reinforcing its protective barrier and helping the skin to protect itself from the damage that is caused by outside factors. It is so because it promotes the production of ceramides (lipids, that help maintain the optimal function of the protective barrier of the skin). Simply put, ceramides are like the cement that keeps our skin cells in the right and optimal position and prevents the formation of micro or macro fractures. Also, ceramides help the skin to keep what is important inside, one of such things being water. So, it protects the skin from trans-epidermal water loss. Considering the importance of ceramides, niacinamide‘s role in their production is a very important factor to consider. 2) Niacinamide reduces redness and is anti-inflammatory. This is one of the reasons why it works so well for those who are fighting acne (including maskne – the acne that is caused by protective masks), rosacea, eczema. 3) Niacinamide controls oil production. 4) Niacinamide evens the skin tone and aids in fighting hyperpigmentation. 5) Niacinamide helps with fine lines and wrinkles. 6) Niacinamide increases the amount of keratin that diminishes in time. 7) Niacinamide helps neutralize UV damage by aiding in the recovery of healthy skin cells.
How and when to use it?
In skincare, we usually find niacinamide in concentrations of 2-10%. Yet, when it comes to this ingredient, more is definitely not better. According to the top-quality scientific research, 4% niacinamide solution, when used 2 times a day, was just as effective as topical antibiotics and a 2% niacinamide solution was able to reduce sebum production. Overall, in scientific literature, the amount of niacinamide that is considered the safest and the most effective to use in cosmetics is 5%. A larger amount may cause irritation, therefore one might notice that the products that have a higher concentration of niacinamide also have additional anti-inflammatory ingredients that may help to neutralize unwanted reactions of the skin. Yet, why should we put effort in neutralizzing them, when we can avoid them altogether?
Used correctly, niacinamide usually does not cause any adverse reactions. Yet, it should not be used together with vitamin C. Because the resulting niacin, this combination may cause irritation and intense redness. Meanwhile, for those who want to enjoy the benefits of retinol but their skin does not tolerate it well, niacinamide may serve as an ingredient that supports correct retinol absorption and decreases the skin‘s sensitivity towards it. Even though niacinamide offers many benefits for the skin, it also requires patience. According to scientific research, the most noticeable results of using niacinamide appear after four weeks but its initial effects can be felt a lot sooner. Either way, niacinamide is an ingredient that definitely deserves a chance to become a part of your skincare routine.