Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is arguably one of the most useful active agents for the skin. It offers a remarkable range of benefits and, considering it’s price, perhaps offers the best value of any active ingredient. It would certainly give Vitamin A and Vitamin C a run for their money in terms of bang for your buck! Niacinamide’s usefulness as a multi-benefit active agent perhaps surpasses the usefulness of its cousins in the vitamin family when one considers that while Vitamin A and Vitamin C might pose some issues for those with sensitive skin (not everyone can tolerate Vitamin A or Vitamin C based skincare products), Niacinamide is remarkably well tolerated by all skin types has very low irritancy potential at concentrations up to 5%.
Primary Benefits for the skin
- Improves the epidermal barrier
- Increase skin hydration
- Soothes inflamed skin
- Inhibits excess sebum production
- Protects the skin from environmental damage
- Reduces blemishes and hyper-pigmentation
- Promotes collagen production
Improves the epidermal barrier
Niacinamide plays an important role in epidermal barrier function. The upper-most layer of skin is known as the stratum corneum and is composed of flattened skin cells which create a surface barrier. This barrier retains water in the skin and a compromised or damaged stratum corneum will lead to overly dry skin via transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Niacinamide helps stabilise the barrier by promoting the production of keratin (an important protein in skin, hair, and nails) to reinforce the surface layer, and by stimulating ceramide production. Ceramides in the skin form part of the lipid barrier and might be likened to the mortar between the skin cells that are the ‘bricks’ in the stratum corneum
Soothes inflamed skin
Niacinamide has broad anti-inflammatory activity. It inhibits nuclear factor kappa B (Nf-kB) and inhibits production of a variety of inflammatory cytokines (Cytokines are a large group of proteins, peptides or glycoproteins that are secreted by specific cells of immune system). Research shows that B3 taken orally or applied topically can help reduce inflammation and redness from a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, rosacea, dermatitis and similar
Inhibits excess oil production
Niacinimide helps regulate the amount of oil the sebaceous glands produce. Over production of oil (hyper-seborrhea), apart from creating an oily complexion, can lead to congested pores which in turn can trigger acne outbreaks. In a double blind study subjects were given either a cream containing 2% Niacin or a placebo moisturiser. Sebum production levels were found to be significantly reduced after 2 and 4 weeks for the group given the niacin cream.
Protects the skin
Ageing of the skin can be intrinsic (within) or extrinsic external / environmental Chronlogical (intrinsic). Intrinsic ageing is simply part of the ageing process and can be termed chronological. Extrinsic ageing comes from environmental assaults on the skin. Of these external aggressors sunlight has the biggest impact on premature ageing of the skin. Niacinamide
Reduces blemishes and hyper-pigmentation
Melanin is a broad term for a group of naturally occurring pigments found in skin and hair. Its primary role is to protect the skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays from sunlight. When the skin is exposed to the sun an amino acid in the skin called tyrosine oxidises triggering the production of melanin by specialised skin cells called melanocytes.The process of melanin production is called melanogenesis.The longer the skin is exposed to UVA and UVB rays the more tyrosine is oxidised increasing the amount of melanogenesis. But it isn’t just sunlight that can trigger melanogenesis, hormonal changes in the skin, and inflammatory skin conditions can trigger the production of melanin. If melanin production was uniform across the skin then generally increased pigment in the skin would be OK. Unfortunately melanin production and distribution across the skin is rarely uniform particularly when the skin suffers significant sun damage or when excess melanin occurs because of hormonal changes or after the skin is inflamed due to acne, eczema, or similar inflammatory skin condition.
Protects the skin.
Niacinamide has antioxidant properties that can help to fight free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can cause damage to the skin cells. This can help to protect the skin from environmental stressors, such as pollution and UV radiation.
Boosts Collagen Production
Collagen is a protein that is found throughout the body and provides structure and support to the skin, bones, and muscles. As we age, collagen production naturally declines, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Niacinamide, has been shown to boost collagen production, leading to firmer, more youthful-looking skin. Here are some ways that niacinamide can boost collagen production:
Fibroblasts are cells that are responsible for producing collagen and other proteins in the skin. Niacinamide can stimulate these cells, leading to increased collagen production. This can help to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Inhibiting Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs)
MMPs are enzymes that break down collagen in the skin. Niacinamide can help to inhibit the activity of MMPs, leading to a decrease in collagen breakdown. This can help to maintain healthy collagen levels and prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Niacinamide can help to promote hydration in the skin, which is important for collagen production. When the skin is dehydrated, collagen fibers can become weak and break down more easily. By promoting hydration, niacinamide can help to maintain healthy collagen levels and improve skin elasticity.
Boosting Antioxidant Levels
Niacinamide has antioxidant properties that can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress and damage to the skin cells, leading to collagen breakdown. By boosting antioxidant levels, niacinamide can help to protect collagen and maintain healthy levels.
Regulating Gene Expression
Niacinamide has been shown to regulate gene expression in skin cells, leading to increased collagen production. It can help to activate genes that are responsible for collagen synthesis, while inhibiting genes that are responsible for collagen breakdown. This can help to maintain healthy collagen levels and improve skin elasticity.
Overall, niacinamide can boost collagen production in several ways. It can stimulate fibroblasts, inhibit MMPs, promote hydration, boost antioxidant levels, and regulate gene expression. By incorporating niacinamide into your skincare routine, you can help to maintain healthy collagen levels and achieve firmer, more youthful-looking skin.