Think back to the last time you read about, heard about or purchased a product that claimed it can turn back the toll of time on your skin to leave it free of wrinkles, blotchiness and other ailments… It seems we’re bombarded with products that promise to deliver impressive results – but how do you know what to trust? Checking out the ingredients list for key components can shed light on a product’s effectiveness, and so Molecular Mondays is back to take a close-up look at the molecules behind the beauty claims. This week we’re looking at niacinamide, a molecule which certainly looks like it has the science backing it up when it comes to improving the appearance of our skin.

Niacinamide (also known as nicotinamide) is used in a huge range of products, from skin moisturisers and cleaning formulas to shampoos and hair tonics. It’s been praised for its benefits by A Model Recommends and Paula’s Choice. Here at Beauty by the Geeks HQ we’re forever on the lookout for achieving stunningly smooth, crystal clear and fabulously flawless skin – but what does niacinamide actually do?

It’s always great to see molecules which have a wealth of research behind them, and niacinamide is certainly one of these! It has been used topically in dermatology for years and years, and so it’s not surprising that we’ve found a whole host of benefits. Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that is readily absorbed when applied to the skin. Its application stabilises the outermost layer of the skin by stimulating ceramide production. Ceramides help maintain the waterproof barrier of the skin to retain moisture and keep the skin hydrated. Niacinamide also boosts production of other proteins such as keratin which improves elasticity of the skin and strength of hair. It’s not a surprise then that niacinamide has been shown in numerous studies to decrease the appearance of wrinkles.

It also acts as a skin lightening agent, which makes it useful for treating hyperpigmentation, and blotchiness and yellowing resulting from acne, rosacea or the general ageing process. It does this through inhibiting processes relating to melanin synthesis to leave skin tone more even.

On top of all that, it has anti-pruritic (anti-itching!) effects – just what we need in products designed to tackle dry, cracked, irritated, or just generally unhappy skin! Niacinamide is also “sebostatic”, which means it helps regulate the rate that the skin produces sebum [link: sebum article] (the skin’s natural moisturising oil). This is one of the reasons why niacinamide can help with conditions like acne, where over-production of sebum can lead to clogged pores and break-outs (for more info on acne, check out our Ask the Expert feature!).

Sounds good? We think so! There’s more positive news – Beauty Geeks can get your hands on this exciting ingredient even if you’ve not got the biggest beauty budget around! In addition to being found in numerous high-end products such as the likes of SK-II Essential Power Cream which retails for a whopping £123.00, it’s also available in a huge number of drugstore products, including the Olay Regenerist and Total Effects lines.

No wonder the beauty world is nuts about niacinamide!

Want to know more? Click here for a good overview of niacinamide and its uses in dermatology!


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