Discover the latest anti-ageing vitamin for skin.

It's a tricky word to say, niacinamide but one that represents a game-changer for skin. Trudi Brewer finds out how and why?

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And as we age, our skin loses firmness, clarity and vitality, and the one way to boost a youthful glow from the inside out, is with vitamin-rich skincare. Appearance medicine Doctor Joanna Romanowska from Clinic 42 in Auckland believes if you could add one more vitamin to your skincare regime, at should be Vitamin B3 - here's how it works.

What is it Niacinamide?
Niacinamide or Vitamin B3 is one of eight water-soluble B vitamins, in other forms also called niacin and nicotinamide. It has unique nutritional and pharmacological properties, and research has demonstrated its remarkable benefits in the treatment of arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heart disease, stress, stroke and more recently as an anti-ageing nutrient.

How does it work once on the skin?
Applied topically it increases circulation, improving  oxygenation to the skin cells in the dermis (top layer of skin). It's the most well-studied form of topical B3 and is regarded, as the most efficacious. Niacinamide readily penetrates the skin and is easily tolerated; it does not cause irritation or flushing commonly noticed with nicotinic acid. Niacinamide also decreases pigmentation and inflammation.

Why is it the latest anti-ageing ingredient in skincare?
As we age, both the epidermis (deepest layer of skin) and dermis become thinner with a loss of cell numbers and connective tissue, which leads to facial wrinkles and is a cofactor in causing cellulite. UV radiation is a primary source of skin oxidative stress that also leads to loss of skin cells, age spots, actinic keratosis, (crusty growths or lesions caused by sun damage) and skin cancer. The basis for niacinamide skin treatments comes from a series of studies conducted in 2005, where 50 women who showed signs of ageing, were treated with a niacinamide cream. Results indicated that women treated with this cream showed significantly more improvement in skin elasticity and appearance than women who were treated with a placebo. Studies also suggest that niacinamide skin creams can reduce the signs and symptoms of severe acne and rosacea by reducing inflammation.

What skin concerns can it correct?
One of the unique benefits of niacinamide as an anti-ageing ingredient is that it enhances the skin's barrier function. Barrier compromise is common in ageing skin and can contribute to heightened sensitivity and irritation, and a decrease in water loss, which naturally increases skin hydration. It is also well known for its skin lightening properties by acting as both a tyrosinase inhibitor, slowing the transfer of melanosomes (responsible for the pigment in skin cells) to keratinocytes ( the skin cells in the dermis), a property that is most remarkable at higher concentrations. So it will improve the complexion, by improving the pigmentation, blotchiness and redness of ageing skin. It will effectively treat acne by its anti-inflammatory action and reduce sebum (oil). Clinically it reduces pore size and improves skin texture too. It also makes retinol (vitamin A used in acne treatment and for anti-ageing) easier to tolerate. Studies also show niacinamide creams may increase the effectiveness of your sunscreen Protecting cells against free radicals. Nicotinamide does not work as a sunscreen, (and does not prevent sunburn), however it may affect the complement cascade, cell energy metabolism, and apoptosis (cell death).

Can it be taken as a supplement to benefit skin?
The latest research has shown that 500-1000mg of vitamin B3 per day, taken orally, was effective in a group of patients with significant sun damaged skin. Also, further research is underway to determine the benefits of vitamin B3 in people with different skin types. 

For skincare rich in niacinamide or vitamin B3 editor Trudi Brewer recommends:


Clinique Superdefence SPF20 Daily Defense Moisturizer, $96. Verso Day Cream, $176. Eve Lom Advanced Brightening Serum, $265 and Ultraceuticals Ultra B2 Hydrating Serum, $96.