Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science)  on 29th  Dec 2020

Can Niacinamide Act as an Anti-pigmentation Ingredient?  

Can Niacinamide Act as an Anti-pigmentation Ingredient?

What is Skin Pigmentation? 

Skin pigmentation refers to the color of the skin. The color of the skin results from the melanin synthesized by color-producing cells known as melanocytes. These cells can sometimes enter an overdrive and produce excess amounts of melanin and result in hyperpigmentation on the skin.

Not sure what hyperpigmentation is? Hyperpigmentation is a skin condition where the skin darkens beyond one's normal skin complexion. It can occur in patches or can affect the whole body. Though hyperpigmentation is harmless, it might cause people to get concerned about their appearance.

Though most people are inclined towards skin bleaching to lighten dark spots and brighten the skin complexion, the ingredients used to bleach can be harmful to the skin's integrity. As alternate solutions, the skincare industry has introduced various active ingredients to correct dark spots and blemishes.

One such amazing ingredients is niacinamide. Want to know more about its benefits and effects? Keep reading and explore the benefits that niacinamide has on the skin and how it can give you bright, flawless, youthful skin.  

What is Niacinamide? 

Niacinamide has created quite a buzz in the skincare industry in the past few years, and it's not in vain. This active form of Vitamin B-3 is genuinely a great ingredient that can ward off all your skin woes. If you are not familiar with it, we are here to help you out.

Niacinamide, often referred to as Nicotinamide, is also an active form of Vitamin B-3, also known as Niacin. Though the terms niacin, niacinamide, and nicotinamide are often used interchangeably, they are not the same. They do have a similar chemical structure but possess different functionality.

Vitamin B-3 is an essential nutrient that is needed by our body to perform its everyday functions. However, this vitamin is not naturally synthesized by our body cells. We need to consume it through our diet. Foods such as eggs, milk, fishes, and green vegetables tend to have abundant amounts of Vitamin B-3, and they play a big role in maintaining essential bodily functions. Deficiency of Vitamin B-3 can give rise to skin disorders, kidney disorders, and even cause cognitive impairment.

With age advancement, our body fails to uptake the necessary amount of niacinamide required by the body. That's when the topical niacinamide serum comes to help. It penetrates the skin and compensates for the short niacinamide, providing all its benefits to the skin.  

Niacinamide as an anti-pigmentation agent

To have clear, bright skin is everyone's desire. And to achieve that, we often take the help of skin bleaching. Though skin bleaching agents can lighten your complexion, the ingredients used can harm your skin's health in the long term. As a safer and milder substitute, dermatologists are now recommending niacinamide serum.

Though it may take much longer to show the desired effect, it is safer on your skin and usually does not show any adverse reaction even when used daily. Let's see what science says about it.

Research has shown that regular use of topical niacinamide can effectively lighten the skin tone and reduce dark spots and blemishes. This happens due to two major reasons due to decreased melanin production as well as increased collagen synthesis.

According to a double-blinded, randomized clinical study done in 2011, it was found that 4% niacinamide can work at par with 4% Hydroquinone (an ingredient known for bleaching the skin). In the study, 27 melasma patients were divided randomly into two groups, and each group of patients was administered with 4% Niacinamide and 4% Hydroquinone.

After eight weeks, when the patients were evaluated, it was found that about 44% of the patients who were using niacinamide showed good to moderate effect compared to the 55% of the patients who had been using Hydroquinone.  

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Niacinamide can be Very Beneficial. Here's What Niacinamide Can Do For Your Skin 

Niacinamide not only acts as a skin lightening agent. It has various beneficial effects that will make you fall in love with this ingredient. Keep scrolling to find out the amazing effects of niacinamide.

Apart from reducing melanin synthesis, niacinamide also helps in boosting collagen production in the body. Increased collagen erases fine lines and wrinkles on the skin and brings back its youthful appearance. A hike in collagen in the skin also makes the skin firmer and more resilient. Niacinamide can also help in retaining moisture in the skin, thereby making them softer and plumper.

Niacinamide can help in maintaining the integrity of the skin's natural defense barrier. Some studies have shown that it plays a role in protecting the acid mantle that protects the skin from outside assaults. Niacinamide has a similar pH as this acid mantle or the skin's lipid barrier and blends perfectly with it and strengthens it.

Niacinamide can also help in controlling sebum production and prevents acne and breakouts on the skin. It can help in reducing enlarged pores and also protects the skin from photo-damage.

Niacinamide also has antimicrobial properties that keep the acne-causing bacteria at bay. Its antioxidant action helps in neutralizing oxidative stress. What else? Its anti-inflammatory property can soothe itchy, reddened skin. On regular use, it can visibly reduce inflammatory acne and prevent future breakouts.  

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Skin Correction with Niacinamide. How does it work?  

Niacinamide is a water-soluble organic component that has a mild effect on the skin. It is well-accepted by all skin types and causes no adverse reaction when topically applied to the skin. It's slightly acidic pH makes it an ingredient that blends perfectly with the pH of the skin.

Niacinamide is available in various concentrations in the market and is often found with a booster ingredient that improves its efficacy, like hyaluronic acid and zinc. It has been found in a double-blinded study that a 2% concentration of niacinamide can effectively lower the sebum production in the skin in about four weeks. Thus, it helps in giving you a smooth, matte appearance to your skin.

5% concentration of niacinamide can help treat hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin concentration of the skin and promoting cell turnover. It also aids in rejuvenating the skin and reduces sun damage on the skin. 5% concentration of niacinamide also can retain moisture in the skin and rehydrate the skin cells. Thus, dermatologists recommend this for people with dry people.

Dermatologists suggest that a 10% concentration of niacinamide is suitable for people with oily skin. The ingredients of the ingredients pass through the epidermis and penetrate the deeper dermal layers and control the sebaceous glands' sebum production.  

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Niacinamide in Your Skincare Regime: How Should You Use Niacinamide Serum? 

  • Niacinamide, being a mild ingredient, allows it to be used in your daily skincare regime. You can conveniently use this ingredient in your AM and PM regime without the fear of risks or complications.
  • Before applying niacinamide, make sure that you cleanse your skin with a mild water-based cleanser and hydrate the skin with a potent moisturizing agent such as hyaluronic acid. Then apply 2-3 drops of niacinamide serum with a dropper on the face and spread all over your skin.  
  • Wait for a few minutes to allow the serum to get absorbed into the skin so that its benefits reach the deepest layers of the dermal cells.  
  • If you wish to layer it with other products, keep in mind to layer the ingredients according to their consistency. That means the lightest ingredient goes on first, and then the gradient increases to the heavier ones.  
  • Niacinamide can improve cell turnover, bringing newer and younger skin cells to the superficial layers. This layer can be more susceptible to photo-damage. Thus, you must apply a good broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent the effects of exposure to sun rays.  

Are There Any Potential Side Effects of Niacinamide? 

Niacinamide is a mild, organic substance that does not usually show any adverse reaction on the skin. However, it is recommended by skin experts. If you are new to using niacinamide, you must begin with a lower concentration of the ingredient and gradually increase the concentration when your skin becomes accustomed.

Though rare, some cases have been reported to develop hypersensitive reactions on using topical niacinamide. Thus, it is advised to perform a patch test at least 24-48 hours before using it.

Niacinamide is soft on the skin and does not cause any purging. However, if you use it as a combination with other facial acids, you might experience some purging. This will reduce after a month of regular use as the superficial skin sheds and new cells grow.  

Final Note: 

Skin pigmentation can be very distressing and can seriously affect your self-esteem. If you are concerned about the spots and blemishes on the skin, then niacinamide can be a boon for you. It can promote collagen production, which makes the skin smooth and resilient. It can lower melanin overdrive by manipulating the melanocytes and effectively brighten skin tone.

We hope this article will help you understand what niacinamide is and how it can help skin correction. Adopt this magical ingredient in your skincare regime and unlock flawless and radiant skin.