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June 15, 2021
Niacinamide is one of the best tried and true ingredients in skincare. While it has been gaining popularity these days, not everyone understand what it is, what benefits it really provides the skin, and what the sweet spot percentage is in any particular product. Let’s get into it today!
Niacinamide is a water-soluble active form of vitamin B3. Since it does not require conversion before it can be used, it readily penetrates the skin and gets to work immediately. Also, because it does not cause sun sensitivity, it can be used day and night.
With continued use, Niacinamide can brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation, as well as increase collagen production in the dermis, normalize collagen, and inhibit glycation, ultimately reducing and preventing fine lines and wrinkles! It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as the ability in restoring the skin’s barrier function and regulating sebum, making it an excellent choice for all skin types, including inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea and eczema.
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Studies have shown that 0.5% can give skin energy; 2% can improve the skin’s barrier function, control sebum, boost collagen and even skin tone; and at 4%-5%, it has been clinically proven to have significant brightening effects.
However, while Niacinamide is an excellent ingredient, too much of a good thing sometimes can be bad for you——just like over drinking water can cause water intoxication, Niacinamide at anything higher than 5% may cause an allergic reaction such as irritation, redness, and swelling for people prone to sensitivity as it can increase histamine levels.
Niacinamide’s broad anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its ability in restoring the skin’s barrier function, make it an excellent choice for inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea and eczema. By inhibiting nuclear factor kappa B (Nf-kB), reducing production of a variety of inflammatory cytokines, like IL-1 and IL-12, preventing degranulation of mast cells and inhibiting leukocyte migration into the skin, Niacinamide has been shown to be as effective as topical antibiotic.
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Studies have found that with continued use, niacinamide at as little as 2% significantly brightens the skin and reduces hyperpigmentation, as it prevents the transfer of pigment within the skin by inhibiting melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. Better yet, because it is a very stable active ingredient, unlike l’ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin c) which is acidic and potentially irritating, it is perfect for sensitive skin.
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Not only does Niacinamide repair damage and neutralize free radicals that can cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin, it also increases collagen production in the dermis, normalizes collagen, and inhibits glycation, thus keeping collagen and elastin supple and flexible, which ultimately reduces and prevents the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. In fact, a clinical study has shown that applying 5% Niacinamide topically for 12 weeks resulted in a 21% improvement in fine lines!
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Niacinamide can stimulate the production of ceramide, which is a major component of the skin barrier. In addition, it increases the production of proteins such as keratin, involucrin and filaggrin that are important factors in the formation and maintenance of the outermost layer of the skin. By fortifying the skin barrier, the skin can then better retain moisture, and block off harmful irritants and bacteria that could lead to sensitivity and acne.
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Research suggests that with continued use, niacinamide helps in regulating oil production by lowering sebum levels and the rate of sebum excretion. This is most beneficial to oily and acne skin. It has also been shown to normalise the lining of the pores, preventing them from getting clogged and subsequently enlarged or resulting in acne.
Free radicals in excess amount is the main cause of skin aging. As a powerful antioxidant, niacinamide fights free radicals, and according to the Journal of Clinical Aesthetic Dermatology, it "increases the antioxidant capacity of skin after topical application", which in turn slows signs of premature aging, such as dullness, sagging, and wrinkles.
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Not meant to replace your sunscreen, but it has been found that niacinamide aids in DNA repair after UVA and UVB damage, and helps prevent photocarcinogenesis. This effectively prevents collagen and elastin breakdown, as well as premature skin aging.
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