What are the principle advantages of niacinamide for the pores and skin?


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Niacinamide sounds like a beauty brand’s chemistry lab invention (just us?), but the increasingly popular skincare ingredient is actually just a form of vitamin B3. Benefits of niacinamide on the other hand? Not so ordinary: They potentially include improving all kinds of skin issues, from acne to hyperpigmentation to signs of aging.

You might see niacinamide appear in a topical product and in supplement form (we’ll explain the differences between the two and potential side effects below) and wonder which one to choose. Or maybe you’ve already purchased a niacinamide-containing product off the Sephora shelf without being 100% sure of its potential benefits. If you’re not sure what niacinamide is or what it does in your moisturizer, you’re not alone. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of niacinamide and how to use it before adding it to your skincare routine.

What is niacinamide? | What does niacinamide do for your skin? | What ingredients can you combine with niacinamide? | How do you use niacinamide?

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide, also called nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3 (niacin) found in supplements, skin care products and foods. « Vitamin B3 is an important antioxidant for cell repair », Snehal Amin, MDboard-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill-Cornell Medical College, says SELF. Vitamin B3 in general is found in a variety of food sources, including poultry, legumes, and eggs. As such, deficiencies are not common in the United States, according to Dr. Amin.

And then there’s niacinamide, the vitamin B3 compound. It is often touted as helping to manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation issues, and wrinkles. But is there a science behind these claims?

Scientists theorize that niacinamide may be effective in skin care products because it is a precursor to two super important co-enzymes in your cells: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+/NADH) and nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP+). ). These two molecules are central to the chemical reactions your cells, including skin cells, need to repair damage, reproduce, and function normally. Many of these essential reactions cannot occur at all without NAD+, which your cells cannot manufacture without niacinamide.1

By giving your body niacinamide, the theory is that it allows you to make more NAD+, John G. Zampella, MDAssistant Professor in the Ronald O. Perelman Department of Dermatology at NYU Langone Health, says SELF. NAD+ then fuels the proliferation of your cells and also allows your body to absorb and neutralize more free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells).

In other (less confusing) words, the ability to potentially help your body create more NAD+ and therefore repair the damage would drive the potential benefits of niacinamide for skin care under topical and even potentially complementary form. There is also evidence that topical niacinamide may increase the production of ceramides (lipids that help maintain the skin’s protective barrier), which may contribute to its topical effects on wrinkles, fine lines, and the skin’s moisture barrier.2 All of this is probably why you see niacinamide listed in a bunch of skin care products.

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What does niacinamide do for your skin?

If niacinamide is involved in the most important cellular functions, there’s nothing it can’t cure, is there? Well, no, if every cellular process in our body could be perfected with vitamin supplements, we wouldn’t need antibiotics or radiation therapy. That said, both oral and topical niacinamide can have some real benefits for skin health:

Prevention of skin cancer:

Ask a dermatologist what niacinamide does best, and the very first benefit of niacinamide they’ll list for you is probably « skin cancer prevention. » In a 2015 study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers gave 386 patients 500 mg of niacinamide orally or a placebo twice daily for an entire year. All participants had at least two non-melanoma skin cancers in the previous five years and therefore were at high risk of developing another skin cancer. The results showed that during the study, there were 23% fewer new cases of skin cancer in the group who received niacinamide (336 cancers) compared to those who received the placebo (463 cancers ).3

Dr. Zampella and Laura Ferris, MD, Ph.D.associate professor in the department of dermatology at the University University of Pittsburghtold SELF that they frequently suggest oral niacinamide to their patients at high risk for non-melanoma skin cancers, and cited this study as the reason.

That doesn’t mean that two capsules of niacinamide a day (which is what participants took in the study) will ward off skin cancer forever, though. The study focused on people who had previously suffered from skin cancer, not the general public. And that tells us nothing about the use of niacinamide to help prevent melanoma-related skin cancers (and the research we have suggests it’s more useful for prevent squamous cell carcinoma).4 But if you’ve had multiple non-melanoma skin cancers in your life, you should ask your dermatologist about oral niacinamide.


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