28 November 2018
If there’s another skincare ingredient that I generally like to recommend to my patients, it would have to be Niacinamide. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a powerful antioxidant with multiple benefits to the skin. Although the benefits of Niacinamide are not as well known as its antioxidant counterpart, Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid), Niacinamide can be used by people who suffer from acne, comedones (clogged pores), pigmentation and sensitive skin. It is hard to come by a skincare ingredient that is suitable for people with all these problems so I am very excited to share about this very versatile skincare ingredient!
Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, is an essential vitamin needed by our nerve cells, digestive system and cardiovascular system. In the field of dermatology, topical niacinamide has been used to treat acne, aging skin, rosacea, autoimmune diseases and atopic dermatitis.
Niacinamide, like vitamin C, is an essential mineral that is not stored in our bodies. This means that we have to rely on our dietary intake and topical application of niacinamide for an adequate daily intake.
In essence, Niacinamide has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and anti-acne benefits on top of boosting the skin’s barrier function, which is crucial for protecting skin and keeping skin hydrated and looking young.
1. Niacinamide reduces skin oiliness by reducing sebum production by the skin
A randomised controlled trial showed that of 160 patients with inflammatory acne who used either Niacinamide gel vs Erythromycin (a type of antibiotic) showed that both groups of patients had similar improvement in their acne lesions. However, the group that was treated with Niacinamide showed greater improvement in seborrhea (skin oiliness)1.
2. Improvement in acne
Besides improving acne by reducing seborrhea, Niacinamide has anti-inflammatory effects on P. acnes (the bacteria responsible for acne) by reducing Interleukin 8 secretion2.
3. Improved skin barrier function and reduced transepidermal water loss3,4
Niacinamide also been shown to increase synthesis of ceramide in the skin. Ceramide is an important component of the outer surface of the skin called the stratum corneum, which provides most of the skin’s barrier function5.
4. Reduces inflammation in the skin6,7
Inflammation in the skin damages the skin barrier and accelerates aging. Reduced inflammation may also be another pathway in Niacinamide’s effect on improving acne.
5. Niacinamide also reduces signs of aging in the skin such as fine lines and wrinkles; pigmentation and rough skin texture8,9
Pretty much anyone can use Niacinamide. Due to its all round benefits on reducing inflammation, treating aging and acne and boosting the skin’s function, Niacinamide is very suitable for most patients- even for people with acne and sensitive skin. For pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, there is no need to fear because Niacinamide is safe for use during pregnancy and lactation.
Niacinamide can be bought over the counter in drugstore skincare either as a serum or moisturiser. It can be used in the day and night time because Niacinamide does not cause sun sensitivity.
If you happen to be also using retinoids for acne or anti-aging, Niacinamide is a great addition to your skincare routine. Besides the skin protecting, anti-aging and anti-acne benefits of using Niacinamide, Niacinamide also helps with increasing your tolerance and reducing redness associated with Niacinamide use.
Short of a possible allergic reaction that can occur with any skincare ingredient or product, there are very few side effects with the use of topical Niacinamide.
Niacinamide is an all encompassing active ingredient that is versatile for most skin types with a very low risk of skin irritation. It is hard to come by an active ingredient that is suitable for people with sensitive skin and acne that packs so much punch. If you’re looking for an effective concentration of Niacinamide in your skincare products; 4-5% Niacinamide is an ideal concentration for effectiveness9,10.
I use a Niacinamide serum together with retinoid at night because Niacinamide helps to reduce irritation that is commonly associated with retinoid use. I prefer to use topical vitamin C in the day. Vitamin C is my preference for an anti-aging ingredient because of its antioxidant and skin brightening benefits. On some days, especially after chemical peels to my skin and topical vitamin C can feel irritating to my skin; I use Niacinamide in the day.
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% by DECIEM
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
I find that the options for Niacinamide in skincare in Singapore are very limited. My favourite find so far is DECIEM’s The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, which is sadly, not available in Singapore- but you can buy it online for now. For a high concentration of 10% Niacinamide, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% is a bargain at approximately SGD$15. I’m into my second bottle now and it has definitely helped with encouraging my tolerance for retinoids.
My verdict on The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%: 4.5 out of 5 stars. This is a product I like to recommend to my patients and friends.
La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo
La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo
La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo, a drug store find, is another product that prides itself as a pigmentation; blackheads and whiteheads remover with Niacinamide as one of its star ingredients. Unfortunately, I could not find any information regarding the concentration of Niacinamide on the product labels, inner leaflets and website. Even the product salesperson at Watson’s did not have a clue. There is a clue however; and that is Niacinamide is not listed as one of the first five ingredients; and this gives us an idea for its star ingredient, Niacinamide, probably is not factored in a significant contribution to the product.
La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo has a gel-cream consistency, which makes it ideal for combination skin types. I was very disappointed with my purchase though; La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo also left a stinging sensation on my face for minutes and I suspect that this might be due to another ingredient, Salicylic acid, in the product. After three weeks of tolerating this stinging sensation with barely any improvement, I decided to abandon using it. Effaclar Duo is very affordable at $39.90 and convenient to purchase though.
My verdict on La Roche Posay’s Effaclar Duo: 1 out of 5 stars. Thank you, next.
Skinceutical’s Metacell Renewal B3
Skinceuticals’ Metacell Renewal B3
Another Niacinamide skincare product I tried was Skinceuticals’ Metacell Renewal B3. It contains a good concentration of Niacinamide at 5%. I tried 2 bottles consecutively too; and a disclosure here: they were given to me by Clifford Aesthetics which stocks Skinceuticals’ range in Singapore. My skin felt smoother after using it, but there honestly was no remarkable lightening in pigmentation for me. It is a little pricey at $156, so honestly, I was expecting more from Skinceuticals’ Metacell Renewal B3.
My verdict on Skinceuticals’ Metacell Renewal: 3 out of 5 stars. Nice, luxurious feel to the product.
Do you use any Niacinamide based products? What are your thoughts and experiences? Leave me a message and comment; I would love to hear what you have to say.
1. Double-blind clinical assessment of the efficacy of a 4% nicotinamide gel (Exfoliac® NC Gel) versus a 4% erythromycin gel in the treatment of moderate acne with a predominant inflammatory component. Weltert Y, Chartier S, Gibaud C et al. Dermatol. 2004; 23: 385–94.
2. Nicotinamide inhibits Propionibacterium acnes-induced IL-8 production in keratinocytes through the NF-kappaB and MAPK pathways. Grange PA, Raingeaud J, Calvez V et al. Dermatol. Sci. 2009; 56: 106–12.
3. Topical niacinamide and barrier enhancement. Bissett D. Cutis2002; 70: 8–12; discussion 21-3.
4. Influence ofniacinamide containing formulations on the molecular and biophysical properties of the stratum corneum. Mohammed D, Crowther JM, Matts PJ et al. J. Pharm.2013; 441: 192–201.
5. Nicotinamide increases biosynthesis of ceramides as well as other stratum corneum lipids to improve the epidermal permeability barrier. Tanno O, Ota Y, Kitamura N et al. J.Dermatol. 2000; 143: 524–31.
6. Nicotinamide and 3-aminobenzamide reduce interferon-gamma-induced class Ii MHC (HLA-DR and -DP) molecule expression on cultured human endothelialcells and fibroblasts. Otsuka A, Hanafusa T, Miyagawa J, Kono N, Tarui S. Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol.1991; 13: 263–280.
7. Nicotinamide and its metabolite N-methylnicotinamide increase skin vascular permeability in rats. Pietrzak L, Mogielnicki A, Buczko W. Clin Exp Dermatol 2009; 34: 380–384.
8. Niacinamide: A B vitamin that improves aging facial skin appearance. Bissett DL, Oblong JE, Berge CA. Surg. 2005; 31: 860–5; discussion 5.
9. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. Hakozaki T, Minwalla L, Zhuang J et al. J. Dermatol. 2002; 147: 20–31
10. The clinical anti-aging effects of topical kinetin and niacinamide in Asians: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, split-face comparative trial. Chiu et al. J Cosmet Dermatol 2007; 6:243–249.