What is niacinamide?
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a specific form of vitamin B3 (an amide) and a powerhouse ingredient for brightening and hydration. It is not produced by the body, which means that if we want to reap its benefits, it should be topically applied to the skin.
How does pigmentation, or dark spots, form?
There are several types of hyperpigmentation or dark spots, usually in the form of solar lentigo (sun spots) that is related to excess sun exposure over time, melasma caused by hormonal changes, and post inflammatory hyperpigmentation caused by inflammation of the skin, most commonly, acne.
A common cause of pigmentation is excess production of melanin – the pigment that gives skin its color. Melanin is produced by melanocytes and is then transferred to keratinocytes (skin cells) by melanosomes.
Does it work? What are its benefits?
Niacinamide’s main benefit is that it helps to lighten pigmentation.The results from two experiments in the presence and absence of niacinamide showed that niacinamide downregulated the amount of melanosomes (pigment carrying cells) transferred within the skin by approximately 35–68% (1). In clinical studies niacinamide significantly decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness after 4 weeks of use.
Apart from being a powerful skin lightening agent, niacinamide also has anti-inflammatory properties, is a powerful antioxidant, improves aging facial skin, moisturize dry atopic skin, and helps to protect the skin from immunosuppressive effects of the sun’s UV rays (2) – making it an effective anti-aging ingredient (3).
Are there any side effects?
Unlike hydroquinone, a popular skin lightening agent that commonly causes skin irritation, niacinamide does not cause skin irritation at low concentrations (1-2%).