niacinamideI have written about niacinamide (AKA nicotinamide), the active component in vitamin B3, for a couple of years now. Evidence shows it can help significantly reduce acne through its anti-inflammatory effects. However, the more I look into this ingredient, the cooler it becomes. The latest double-blind study I found in the journal Dermatology Research and Practice has researchers administering 4% niacinamide to patients with melasma or dark patches of skin from sun exposure. Melasma is much more common in women and is an extremely prevalent condition experienced during pregnancy. The reason I find this particularly interesting is because people with acne often experience dark/red spots after acne lesions heal, also called hyperpigmentation.

The study pitted 4% Niacinamide against 4% hydroquinone for the treatment of melasma. Results were similar. “Good to excellent improvement was observed with niacinamide in 44% of patients, compared to 55% with HQ.” The lightening effect of niacinamide took a little longer to exhibit itself and was evident at 8 weeks versus 4 weeks for hydroquinone.

As far as side effects go, “Treatment with niacinamide showed no significant side effects and was well tolerated.” This is in contrast to “moderate adverse effects” in 18% of the hydroquinone patients.

I am in the process now of trying niacinamide in products because of the breadth and depth of compelling research that exists now on this simple yet effective ingredient. I’ll let you know how that goes.


  • Navarete-Solis J, et al. “A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma.” Dermatology Research and Practice. 2011.

NicotinamideNicotinamide (AKA niacinamide or nicotinic amide), a vitamin B3 derivative, may be a welcome adjunct ingredient in an acne sufferer’s arsenal. I say adjunct because it is unlikely to produce adequate levels of clearing on its own, but may help boost otherwise lacking treatment protocols. It has a fairly good track record over the years and two recent studies further corroborate its acne fighting prowess. The first of the two studies compared 5% nicotinamide gel against 2% clindamycin (a topical antibiotic) and found them to be equally effective, with no side effects seen from the nicotinamide gel. The second study pitted 4% nicotinomide against 1% clindamycin. The researchers of this study came to a similar conclusion: “The efficacies of 4% nicotinamide and 1% clindamycin gels are comparable in treating moderate inflammatory facial acne vulgaris.”

Nicotinamide is available over-the-counter but is not found in many products. This may changes as more evidence surfaces showing its efficacy. I am personally going to look into the possibility of adding it into products in the coming years.


  • Shahmoradi Z, et al. “Comparison of topical 5% nicotinamid gel versus 2% clindamycin gel in the treatment of the mild-moderate acne vulgaris: A double-blinded randomized clinical trial.” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. 2013; 18(2): 115–117.
  • Khodaeiani, et al. “Topical 4% nicotinamide vs. 1% clindamycin in moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris.” International Journal of Dermatology. 2013; 52(8): 999-1004.

Niacinamide B3Recently an 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, 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.