The Beauty Alphabet: N is for Niacinamide

Niacinamide is an important precursor to the co-factors NADH and NADPH that are involved in MANY biochemical reactions in the body. The body readily absorbs niacinamide through the blood, skin, or intestines and distributes it throughout. It is a topical active ingredient that is found in many cosmetic and personal care products. It is a form of vitamin B3 that is also known as nicotinamide. It is supplied as a white, crystalline, odorless powder that is freely soluble in water and alcohol. It is most stable at a pH of 6 when in solution. Formulating niacinamide at too high or too low a pH can cause skin irritations.

Topical Application for Skin

Topically, niacinamide has a stabilizing effect on the epidermal barrier function of the skin while reducing transepidermal water loss. It promotes protein synthesis, like keratin, which improves skin metabolism and skin texture. It has a stimulating effect on Ceramide synthesis, speeds up the differentiation of keratinocytes, and raises intracellular NADP levels. This all calls for cell renewal and the improvement of the look and feel of skin.

In aging skin, niacinamide can improve the surface structure, smooth out wrinkles and inhibit photocarcinogenesis (substances that cause cancer following illumination).

Niacinamide is also great for acne and oily-prone skin types. At 2%, it reduces sebum production and the appearance of pores when used in synergy with Sodium Dehydroacetic Acid. Applying a niacinamide containing product to the scalp can reduce the appearance of oily hair and the occurrence of dandruff.

2% of niacinamide has also been shown to reduce skin water loss and increase hydration BETTER than Vaseline (aka petrolatum).

It has anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit users with acne and skin conditions. Another benefit of niacinamide is that it prevents melanin from reaching the surface of the skin, making it a great skin whitener/brightener for those with hyperpigmentation.

As a skin conditioning agent, it does almost everything that you need — which is why niacinamide is my all-time favorite ingredient!

  • Skin conditioning agent to improve the appearance and feel of skin
  • Smoothes skin for those with aging skin
  • Reduces sebum and the look of pores for those with large pores and oily prone skin/hair
  • Improves hydration and reduces transepidermal water loss
  • Anti-inflammatory properties for those with skin conditions
  • Prevents melanin from reaching the surface of skin for those with hyperpigmentation

Niacinamide Containing Products

  • The Ordinary | Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90 for 30 mL) – Formulated at a pH of 5.50-6.50 — this information alone makes me feel like this product is a great product because Niacinamide is most stable at a pH of 6 in solution. Zinc is used in synergy with niacinamide to balance visible sebum activity (aka oily skin). This is the only niacinamide containing product that I think that matters, in my opinion.

  • Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum ($28.00 for 15 mL) – Formulated with PEG-12 Dimethicone, which is a skin emollient that can condition skin and provide a silky, smooth skin feel. This will enhance the lubricity and aesthetic of the product. Think of this as the first mentioned product but with great skin feel.

Reference/Further Reading

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