For What? … About Niacinamide

Niacinamide is one of the most consistently used and preferred skincare ingredients. 
Why do skincare brands continue to use niacinamide in their products? Why do consumers seek out products with niacinamide? Is it because of its well-known brightening effect? Or does it have other, lesser-known benefits? 

In this post, we’ll answer these questions and know more about niacinamide. 

Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3 and nicotinamide, is one of the most common water-soluble vitamins used as a skincare ingredient. In Korea, niacinamide is listed as a “Certified pigmentation treatment ingredients,” so it can be easily found in many products related to brightening. 

Certified pigmentation treatment ingredients

It is excellent for brightening skin, but it is also a great ingredient with a variety of effects including improving pores, sebum, skin texture, etc. 

Niacinamide is a smart solution for various skin concerns from blemish to acne skin. Then let’s take a closer look at the benefits of niacinamide. 

▶ Various Effects of Niacinamide

1. Skin Tone Improvement·Brightening Effect

Ultraviolet rays is one of the main causes of pigmentation in the skin. When UV rays stimulate melanocytes located deep in the skin, melanin pigment is produced and gradually moves to the surface of the skin, causing blemishes and discoloration such as dark spots and freckles that are visible to the naked eye.

Niacinamide has an effect to reduce pigmentation by preventing the pigment made by melanocytes from moving to the surface of the skin. 
[Reference] British Journal of Dermatology, 147, p20–31 (2002). 

2. Sebum · Pore Improvement Effect

An adequate amount of sebum is necessary to protect the skin and retain moisture in the skin. However, when sebum secretion becomes irregular and excessive, the pores become filled with sebum and they gradually stretch. Since pores can be easily stretched not only by sebum excessive secretion but also by external factors such as UV rays, if it is left untreated, pores can become prominent, resulting in a bumpy skin texture. 

Niacinamide helps to control sebum secretion properly, preventing excessive buildup and improving pores. 
[Reference] Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 8, p96–101 (2006).
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 6, p243–249 (2007). 

3. Skin Problems Improvement Effect

Skin problems such as acne is caused by a wide variety of factors which are the external environment, lifestyle, and hormones in the body, etc., and can appear in different ways depending on the progress. There is initial acne which is non-inflammatory, such as blackheads and whiteheads. Besides, there is also inflammatory acne that has an inflammation and pain caused by acne-causing bacteria(P. Acnes)

Niacinamide not only improves non-inflammatory acne with its ability to control sebum secretion, but it can also improve inflammatory acne by inhibiting the overgrowth of acne-causing bacteria. 
[Reference] International Journal of Dermatology, 52, p999–1004 (2013). 

4. Acne Blemishes Improvement

Unlike initial acne, severe acne with a damaged skin barrier and inflammation can leave different types of blemishes such as reddish pigmentation, uneven skin tone, and more even after the acne is disappeared. These marks are not easy to restore and can remain on the skin for a long time if not managed in time. 

Niacinamide has an effect to improve the skin barrier damaged by skin problems like acne and reduce excessive pigmentation to improve acne blemishes. 
[Reference] Journal of drugs in dermatology, 18, p454-459 (2019)., International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 441, p192-201 (2013). 

5. Skin Barrier Improvement – Dryness Relieving Effect

When the skin is frequently irritated by a variety of factors, including UV exposure, temperature changes, stress, physical friction, etc., the skin barrier can become weak and damaged. When the barrier is in the damaged condition, the skin loses its natural ability to moisturize, which can lead to dryness and even make skin problems worse because harmful things like allergy and bacteria can easily permeate into the skin. 

Niacinamide works to improve the broken skin barrier, reducing water loss and improving the moisture in the skin
[Reference] International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 441, p192-201 (2013). 

▶ Is it okay to continue using Niacinamide?

As it is mentioned in the beginning, niacinamide is one of the ingredients approved by the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety as a “Certified functional ingredient,” which means that its safety and efficacy have been proven based on several research data. According to numerous research papers, niacinamide has many beneficial effects on the skin and has been proven its effects for a variety of skin problems, with studies showing it to be safe at concentrations up to 20%. 

Of course, as with any ingredient, some people may not be able to suit it or find it irritating, depending on their individual skin conditions. A small percentage of users may experience a slight tingling sensation when niacinamide is absorbed and worked into the skin, but rest assured that it is not harmful to the skin. If you keep an eye on your skin condition and use it consistently, you will see more satisfactory results. 
[[Reference] International Journal of Toxicology, 24, p1-31 (2005).