We could not resist including this one, given its versatility and benefits to so many skin types.
Niacinamide is naturally found in your skin and plays a variety of roles to keep your skin working properly. Importantly, it has been recognised as a cosmeceutical ingredient and found to deliver multiple benefits for the skin.
Dermatologists Jacquelyn Levin, Saira B Momin and James Del Rosso reviewed published scientific data on Niacinamide, retinoids, Kinetin, Soy Isoflavones, Soy Protease Inhibitors and Green Tea Extract in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology in February 2010 to determine whether these ingredients have evidence to support their function as cosmeceuticals. The authors concluded that “Niacinamide is probably the closest ingredient investigated in this review to satisfy the three major questions in cosmeceutical ingredient analysis.”
It can reduce redness, calm inflammation, improve dryness, brighten skin tone, reduce sebum reduction, improve enlarged pores, lessen fine lines and wrinkles, and rebuild an impaired skin barrier. And if that was not enough, it protects against environmental damage, including helping to prevent the emergence or darkening of those darned spots. And by stimulating microcirculation, it can give the skin a healthy glow. Yep, this really is a great multi-tasker.
Niacinamide also promotes the production of ceramides and inter-cellular lipids naturally found in the skin, thereby strengthening the skin’s barrier. A stronger epidermis makes for a less reactive skin. Your skin will be able to better retain moisture and defend itself against environmental stressors, leading to improved skin appearance and structure. Skin that looses moisture too quickly becomes dehydrated, looks tired, and is prone to redness, as it is more reactive to irritants, both environmental and cosmetic.
Because it has an anti-inflammatory effect, Niacinamide is used in the treatment of acne and rosacea, by helping to control oiliness, reduce redness, minimise pores and fade the red marks sometimes left behind by breakouts.
Niacinamide has been found to be a potent cell-communicating ingredient that plays a role in promoting the synthesis of collagen in the dermis and proteins in the epidermis.
Additionally, it has been found to improve the skin’s elasticity when used with a sunscreen. It may also play a role in the prevention of the Maillard Reaction that is found in ageing skin. As we get older, sugars and proteins in the skin cross link, giving the skin a yellow colour. Niacinamide can help prevent this oxididation process occurring in the skin.
Australian research found that applying Niacinamide in concentrations of 5% or more to the skin prevents immune cells from leaving our skin when we are exposed to the sun. There is research to show that it can be photo-protective and can repair DNA damage caused by UV exposure. It does this by going to the defence of the skin’s Langerhans cells, which are present in the epidermis and dermis, to defend our skin from infection and signal the need for an immune response to threats such as microbes, allergy or injury. Prolonged UV exposure can cause these Langerhans cells to die off and so rob the skin of its own police force and immune response signallers.
Niacinamide in skin care products is equally helpful for anyone who is prone to hyperpigmentation. This ingredient helps control the production of pigment and its transfer from melanocytes to surrounding skin cells and on to making its way to the top layer of the epidermis.
Unlike Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Retinol or Vitamin C, Niacinamide is not usually irritating and has a neutral pH. It is well tolerated by most skin types when used in concentrations of 5-10%, however in higher concentrations it can cause skin irritation and redness, especially in sensitive areas, such as around the eyes.