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Vitamin B3

Niacinamide: Is It the B All of Anti-Aging?

Reviewed by Marta May 2, 2013 6 Comments

To B or not to B… Niacinamide is the question. This fancy form of vitamin B3 crops up in many heavy-hitting anti-aging ingredients. Yet rarely, except in the case of brands such as NIA-24 or Olay Pro-X, does it take center stage. So I got to wondering if it is indispensable or merely somewhat useful as part of our anti-aging arsenals.

Niacin, vitamin B3, is in beets, leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry and tuna. Once in the body, it converts to niacinamide. There, it becomes a precurser of the co-enzymes NADH and NADPH. These enzymes are essential for cell-energy production and lipid synthesis. Unfortunately, levels decline with age. Fortunately, niancinamide is proven to reverse that decline. The nomenclature can get a bit confusing. Niacinamide is also known as nicotinamide, and niacin is also known as nicotinic acid. Nia-24, an anti-aging skincare range, majors on a proprietary form of niacin called Pro-Niacin. Still, it all boils down to vitamin B.

So what’s so good about it? Actually a lot. Niancinamide is a Herculean multitasker that tackles wrinkles, uneven skin tone, acne, melasma and hyperpigmentation. And there’s a ton of research to back up claims.

Niacinamide for Wrinkles

According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, niacinamide leads to an increase in protein synthesis (e.g. keratin), has a stimulating effect on ceramide synthesis and on aging skin, improves the surface structure, smooths out wrinkles and inhibits photocarcinogenesis. A 2003 study on 50 women aged 40 to 60 added niacinamide at 5% to a moisturizer and found “significant improvements” to fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation spots, texture, and red blotchiness.

Niacinamide for Acne

If you suffer from adult acne and are also concerned about aging skin, then niacinamide is an ingredient that could be your new best friend. One study has shown that niacinamide at a 4% concentration can reduce that severity of moderate inflammatory acne.  However, MedLine Plus (a service of the US National Library of Medicine) says that there is “insufficient evidence to rate its effectiveness.” This seems a little unfair since a Turkish study also got good results, and in North Carolina researchers found that niacinamide may modulate the production of sebum. The same team also found that it helped with rosacea. There are a ton of other citations that have helpfully been posted on the Acne.org message boards.

Niacinamide for Skin lightening

In a study on the treatment of melasma, niacinamide at 4% did almost as well as hydroquinone with fewer people experiencing side effects. Another study also showed that niacinamide can “significantly” decrease hyperpigmentation, although it must be noted that it was paid for by Procter & Gamble, owners of Olay.

I was also very excited to see research demonstrating that ultrasound with a skin-lightening gel (consisting of niacinamide and vitamin C) reduced hyperpigmention. So get out your Ultra Renews.

Products that Feature Niacinamide

Niacin is given center stage by NIA24. However, although I see a lot to like in its products, it never seems quite enough to persuade me to try them out as I am put off by the synthetics, silicones and potential toxins. It also gets star billing in Olay’s Pro-X products, which for a drugstore brand take its anti-aging ingredients seriously.

One of my personal favorites with niacin is Your Best Face Define ($70 in the shop), a lip cream that I have used religiously since it launched in 2009. One of Your Best Face’s go-to ingredients, niacin, is in a host of its products – see below. Another brand that reaches for niacin is Osmosis and it is in both its retinol serum Correct ($46 in the shop) and Replenish ($44), one of the few serums to feature the antioxidant astaxanthin.

ReLuma uses niancinamide to round out the human conditioned media and Matrixyl 3000 in its Eye Cream ($76).  Arcona Night Breeze’s elegantly simple formula has niacinamide as well as the intriguing  fumaric acid, which is created naturally by the skin when it is exposed to sunlight and is used by cells to produce energy.

Other products with niacinamide loved by the Truth In Aging community include:

Osmotics Lighten FX Serious Brightening Solution ($62)

Stemulation Boost Cream ($75)

Taun Facial Repair Formula ($79)

Lather 10-Minute Brightening Mask ($28)

Your Best Face Hydrate B ($45 in the shop)

Your Best Face Balance  ($45 in the shop)

Your Best Face Boost ($65 in the shop)

Your Best Face Prep ($80 in the shop)

  • August 10, 2013

    by Tara

    Hello Marta and TIA community,

    I've recently discovered 2 fabulous sun protection products, Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 and Tizo3 Facial Mineral Fusion SPF 40, only to have them both cause immediate breakouts. I'm at a loss now! Any clue as to which ingredients may be causing trouble and which products may be safer choices? Bare minerals products have also disrupted my skin in the past.

    Thanks so much in advance, I sincerely appreciate it.

  • May 4, 2013

    by pam

    la vie Celeste products contain niacinimide .

    Are they included in this promotion?

  • May 3, 2013

    by Amy

    Thanks for the interesting article. I have some "hyper" pigmented areas on my arms, guess this would work also?

  • May 2, 2013

    by Julie Kay

    Marta! Thanks for this commentary on Niacinamide. From my arsenal of personal (medical) history I have this: I was treated for Meniere's Syndrome (an inner ear disturbance) once (I still have the Meniere's; I've dropped the treatment) which included taking extremely high doses of B3, and other things, twice a day. The goal was to create a huge rush of circulation; the effect was that I turned the color of a ripe plum for about 5 minutes while the blood rushed particularly close to the surface. Now I'm wondering if niacinamide "excites the blood" when applied topically. #thoughtful. ~jk

  • May 2, 2013

    by Marta

    Thanks Oksana. And I like your tip for a CC cream (BBs are so 2012).

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