Recently an Acne.org member wrote to me asking if I could look into niacinamide, an ingredient which may be beneficial for acne prone skin and which is included in some over-the-counter products, especially moisturizers due to its water loss prevention properties. Knowing that over-treatment of the skin can lead to irritation and the perpetuation of acne, he asked if I could explain whether niacinamide could potentially interfere with the effectiveness of the Regimen.

What is it: Niacinamide (a.k.a. Nicotinamide or Nicotinic Acid Amide) is a close chemical compound to Vitamin B3 (niacin) which can be taken orally or applied topically. Based on the published research I have uncovered, this ingredient may be a welcome addition to a skin care product ingredient deck and will most likely not prove to be an unwelcome variable.

Evidence: For the purposes of this post, I am speaking of topically applied niacinamide. Topical niacinamide may have measurable anti-inflammatory, anti-irritation, and skin turnover properties. In one study testing topically applied 4% niacinamide (brand name Nicomide), it was shown to reduce acne symptoms as much as 1% clindamycin, a widely prescribed topical antibiotic. Keep in mind that clindamycin produces unimpressive results, even if significant over placebo. In another study, in order to test for niacinamide’s effect on skin oil production, researchers applied 2% niacinamide to Japanese and Caucasian subjects. At least some of the Japanese subjects experienced somewhat reduced skin oil production.

Mixing it with other meds: Normally, it is wise to keep the amount of active ingredients one uses to a minimum to prevent over-treatment of the skin, and resulting irritation. However, since the skin reacts very minimally to niacinamide and it tends to cause so few side effects, it may prove a welcome passenger alongside other ingredients.

Beware of “label claim”: It is a general practice in the cosmetics industry to include ingredients in products at tiny amounts for what is referred to as “label claim.” Manufacturers will very often add one or two drops of an ingredient into huge hundred gallon batches so they can write on their label that the desired ingredient is in the product. If you see niacinamide in a product, check its placement within the product’s ingredient list. As an example, it is the fourth ingredient in Olay Complete All Day Moisturizer – Normal. The higher an ingredient is listed, the more of that ingredient is included, so its fourth place showing is promising. If you see it listed toward the end of an ingredient list, chances are it may be in the product only for label claim.

A final note: In my years of researching promising acne fighting ingredients, I have come across hundreds of ingredients which show promise in fighting acne. Studies of these ingredients are often small, and results, while scientifically significant, are often unimpressive. In other words, it is not time to lobby skin care manufacturers to be certain to include niacinamide in their products. Rather, be sure you have the basics in place–a non-overdrying cleanser, a 2.5% benzoyl peroxide, and a moisturizer which does the trick of bringing the skin back into balance. When used within the Regimen, these products alone should get you 100% clear. However, if you do see niacinamide on the label, I don’t see any reason at this point to worry that you will be over-treating your skin.

_____
As we move forward here at Acne.org, I will keep niacinamide in mind when formulating, along with all of the other promising ingredients available to us. I’ll also keep checking research as it emerges regarding this ingredient.

20 Responses to “Ingredient report: Niacinamide”

  • Mismo

    Thanks for this timely post. I have been researching Niacinamide too.

    Has anyone tried Mimosa tenuiflora as an acne treating ingredient.

  • Anonymous

    Ahh this was my email! I’m honored. Good post Dan. I assume you are planning on making a new moisturizer sometime in the future (although I am one of the people who do support the new one). What would be your opinion on putting niacinamide in it? I think that would be an awesome call, and definitely something worth looking into.

  • Anonymous

    do you realize that if you simply rely on studies, your bp regimen isn’t validated by science either? you guarantee complete clearance, yet most studies with bp only note moderate improvements. gotta try the ingredients individually!

  • Jon

    I’ve used freederm topically, its called ‘Freederm’ in the UK. It’s ok, not as good as BP generally.

  • Sheryl

    No offense but you are wrong about the niacinamide studies. They are not just “small” studies. They are numerous and carefull controlled/double bllinded. A google search will prove this.

    I truly believe that niacinamide has made a real difference in my skin. I like your moisturizers, but I always go back to products with niacinamide such the Olay brands.

    Niacinamide will never take the place of BP, but when used with BP prevents irritation more than the licorice extract in many products. Dermatologists recommend niacinimade products to their patients with rocaecea, it is so milk.

    If you ever start putting niacinamide in your products, I would be thrilled.

    Another reason dermatologists like niacinamide so much is that it combines well with other ingredients without halting their active ingredients. In fact it compliments other ingredients.

    The studies are out there! I was so impressed with how niacinamide products effected my skin, I did study it.

  • David Pascoe

    I too have been following niacinamide and its promise as a contributor to topical preparations.

    My interest is more to do with rosacea and any benefits that may result by being able to restore the skin barrier function using Niacinamide.

    A small study maybe but *link edited out* Niacinamide, Moisturizers and the Skin Barrier Function is a good start.

    I know that for my own skin, a good moisturiser along with a gentle cleanser was really important.

    David Pascoe.

  • Michelle

    I’m using benzoyl peroxide combined with niacinamide. it’s less irritating and equally potent. :)

  • scarlettO

    Hey Dan! Me again! Just Checking for the millionth time to see if there is an update on the sunscreen yet…

  • Calisia

    I’ve been using CeraVe PM lotion for 7 months daily. Its 4th ingredient is niacinamide. The product makes no acne claims but it says; “Containing ceramides, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM increases the skin’s ability to attract, hold, and distribute moisture. It penetrates deep into the layers of the stratum corneum to help to replace deficient levels of key lipids that are essential for an effective skin barrier.” It is the best lotion I’ve used on my sensitive, acne-prone skin. Unfortunately, the PM does not contain sunscreen, and I don’t like the AM version.
    For day-use during summer, but my derm gave me a sample of Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46, which also contains niacinamide as the third ingredient. I’m very happy with it and purchased a full size bottle today.
    I don’t follow the research on acne, but my doctor does and so far her advice kept me almost 100% clear. Hope this helps.

  • julian

    the question i always find is people want to know the difference between natural and the other option, because face it there are many other method one can go with,*link edited* , this may help but i think one must find something that reduce inflation and still retains moisture, maybe both option may be better

  • Ana

    I have heard it also helps with discolorations/hyperpigmentation? Cerave makes a good, basic daytime moisturizer with SPF30 and niacinimide.

  • Joe

    Some of the remedies mentioned may not be applicable to taking care of acne in babies. This is because babies usually have a tender skin that may require special care and attention. Some of these substances may be too harsh for their skin. There are a number of remedies for baby acne at*link edited out*

  • mauwong

    I started using niacinamide (Olay Regenerist Serum) in addition to BP with great success. I’m usually clear with BP only unless I’m stressed, don’t have enough sleep or during my period. With the addition of niacinamide in my regimen, I haven’t had any of those big ugly acne lesion even when I’m stressed.

    The big test came when I was on a business trip to NY. I was stressed, my sleep was disrupted due to the three hours time difference and had my period. For all this, I only got a tiny white head that went away the next day.

  • Toby

    It’s probably best not to use niacinamide in conjunction with any benzoyl peroxide product. Benzoyl peroxide is an oxidizing agent, and niacinamide is incompatible with oxidizing agents. Niacinamide reacts with oxdizing agents and converts into a different structure—possibly into nicotinic acid/niacin (I’m not 100% sure), which, unlike niacinamide, tends to cause flushing of the skin.

  • Cordula

    Niacinamide GAVE me breakouts and a rash. Other people have said so as well. This can be allergenic and also some people have had “Dermatologic side effects have included increased sebaceous gland activity, dry skin, itching, and rash.” -http://www.drugs.com/sfx/niacinamide-side-effects.html Ouch!! Watch out!

  • Christophe

    I used a black soap containing niacinamide plus other product from a company named ABIFOS
    in France, this product is very very efficient, my acne goes away.
    The name of the product is : KARITENE BLACK SOAP against acne.

  • Peanut

    I have used Olay Complete Night Fortifying Cream for years and it has been amazing for my skin! Never breaks me out, packed full of niacinamide and non-greasy. It brightens my complexion, fades acne scars, gets rid of redness and overall just makes my skin look better than it ever has! You all need to try it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.