Niacinamide and the effect of niacinamide on the skin

What is Niacinamide?

Niacinamide, has been called Nicotinic acid amide, Nicotinamide, also known as Vitamin B3, is a vital component of the vitamin family. In terms of niacinamide study, Girish Parsad Mathur et al. from the United Kingdom discovered for the first time in 1974 that 15% niacin and 14% sunscreen were compounded into a cream method to produce a brightening skin result. The mechanism of action is as follows: Niacin activates the cyclic 3,5-nucleotide phosphodiesterase, which degrades the 3,5-cyclic adenylate that triggers melanocyte hormones into adenine-5-monophosphate, decreasing melanin output. Niacinamide is a water-soluble substance with solution stability and light stability. In a solution with a pH of 6, the stability is the best.

Authorities in the field of dermatology have unanimously agreed that niacinamide has a brightening impact. Kobe Medical is one of them.

According to Paula´s Choice:

“Also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinic acid, niacinamide is a very effective skin-restoring ingredient that offers multiple benefits for aging skin. Among these benefits is the ability to visibly improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, dullness, and a weakened skin surface. Niacinamide can also mitigate the damage environmental attack can cause, and is stable in the presence of heat and light.”

Paulas Choice, 2021, Niacinamide

Special presentations were provided by Dr. Masamitsu Chihashi, Dean of the University’s Department of Dermatology, and Professor Raymond E. Boyce, Department of Dermatology, Cincinnati Medical University, USA.

The key features of nicotinamide’s brightening mechanism:

(1) Increase the metabolism of melanin-containing keratinocytes and facilitate their shedding.

Skin cells need enough energy to carry out regular physiological tasks including the formation of new cells, collagen synthesis, fat and protein processing, and DNA synthesis. And, as a consequence of ageing and other factors, cell activation energy also declines, resulting in slower cell renewal, hyperpigmentation, decreased skin moisture, and irregular keratin.

Since nicotinamide is a small molecule, it can be ingested immediately by cells. Niacinamide may preserve the skin’s energy balance whilst also restoring cell energy and speeding up collagen production, preventing excessive melanin pigmentation induced by the skin’s low oil content and stratum corneum thinning.

Furthermore, through speeding up skin renewal, nicotinamide facilitates the shedding of melanin-containing keratinocytes.

Nicotinamide can cause skin pigmentation by inhibiting the transport of melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes without inhibiting tyrosinase activity or cell proliferation. It may also cause keratinocytes and melanocytes to have a tense relationship. Melanin activity is reduced by the inter-cell signaling channel. Nicotinamide, on the other hand, will operate on melanin that has already been made, limiting its transition to surface cells.

If niacinamide is used as a brightening ingredient, it is useful in treating melasma and hyperpigmentation induced by ultraviolet rays when the concentration is 2 percent to 5%. When combined with N-acetylglucosamine, it is claimed to be more powerful.

(2) Minimize melanin transmission to surface cells by acting on the melanin that has been generated.

Since the skin only becomes black as melanin is administered to the keratinocytes. Nicotinamide inhibits the movement of around 35 percent to 40 percent of melanin from melanocytes to keratinocytes, minimizing unnecessary pigmentation. Clinical studies have shown that using niacinamide-containing moisturizers can greatly decrease the area and number of brown spots on the face, with the lightening of the bright spots visible to the naked eye. The most critical argument for using nicotinamide as a brightening agent is for this reason.

External use of nicotinamide (2%) can reduce the production of fatty acids and triglycerides in sebum, and has the effect of controlling oil secretion. It is said to have a synergistic effect with sodium dehydroacetate. The reduction of oil secretion will also make the skin pores look less large.

(3) Enhance epidermal protein synthesis and increase skin texture

Niacinamide promotes epidermal protein production, improves the skin’s own protective mechanisms, and increases the skin’s moisture content. As a result, niacinamide is commonly used in anti-aging drugs.

Topical application of nicotinamide can increase the levels of free fatty acids and ceramide in the skin, stimulate the microcirculation of the dermis, and prevent skin moisture loss. It can also increase protein synthesis (such as keratin), increase the level of NADPH in cells, and accelerate the differentiation of keratinocytes. In addition, it can alleviate skin irritation caused by surfactants or solvents.

The ability to improve the skin barrier function mentioned above means that nicotinamide has moisturizing ability. A small study shows that 2% nicotinamide for topical application is more effective than petrolatum in reducing skin loss and increasing moisture retention.

There are drawbacks of all.

The drawbacks of niacinamide as a brightening agent include: Niacinamide is a toxin that cannot be tolerated.

The reality is that many people are allergic to products containing niacinamide. The symptoms of allergies include redness, itching, and tingling of the skin. These symptoms are more likely to occur in cold, dry climates.

The cause of allergies is niacin in niacinamide. As mentioned earlier, nicotinamide has the best stability in a solution with a pH of 6. In a solution with a pH value higher or lower than 6, it will be hydrolyzed to form niacin, which can cause skin irritation. Therefore, formulas containing niacinamide generally control the pH between 5 and 7 to reduce the formation of niacin.

For those with less serious symptoms, you can reduce the dosage and adapt slowly. If you are lucky, your skin will build up tolerance to niacin after repeated use.

Niacinamide is not without flaws. Some people can use niacinamide items with high concentrations of the vitamin, which may trigger redness. As well as some allergies. That is, everybody loves to speak about nicotinamide intolerance. As a result, nicotinamide is ideal for raw materials or impurity regulation in cosmetics, and the product nature and operation have an effect on this. P&G and Unilever have done extensive research and developed a number of mature products in this field. In men, nicotinamide is often used as the key active ingredient, similar to Olay (men should also whiten and brighten the complexion).

Recommendations for the concentration of products to be purchased due to the tolerance of nicotinamide:

In a study, it was confirmed that before the addition of nicotinamide products was less than 2%, the absorption rate increased linearly as the added amount increased. After more than 2%, the absorption will not increase linearly, and the consequence of high content of VB3 is more irritation. Therefore, in order to achieve better results while avoiding potential irritation as much as possible, WE believe that product selection can start with 2% niacinamide products. But unfortunately, 2% content is really hard to judge from the ingredient list, but it is still learned to judge if it is greater than 1%. Then choose products greater than 1% to start your VB3 skin care journey. There are also domestic products that are less than 1%, but they are not the main ingredient. Of course, if you use 5% niacinamide products without any problems, just ignore this paragraph and continue with your skin care journey.

Reference list:

Paulas Choice, 2021, Niacinamide (Accessed 29th April 2021)

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