Vitamin B3 (niacin) or more specifically, the amide of Vitamin B3, also known as Niacinamide has gained popularity over the last decade or so due to its multifunctional benefits. This beneficial ingredient has been studied in-depth and its results have been peer-reviewed to a rather satisfying extent (compared to many other marketed ingredients out there). As far back as 1995, Niacinamide has demonstrated its ability to work just as well as a prescription of Clindamycin for acne and without the risk of antibiotic resistance. It is known as a cell-communicating ingredient that can either enhance healthy cell communication or block damaging cellular pathways. Overall, cell-communicating ingredients complement antioxidants to improve skin-cell function.
According to the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology along with the British Journal of Dermatology, topical application of Niacinamide has the ability to increase ceramide and free fatty acid levels as well as stimulate microcirculation in the dermis and prevent transepidermal water loss. Among these benefits, Niacinamide also has an inhibitory effect on the transfer of melanosomes to skin cells, therefore it's able to decrease skin discolorations. Its reputation for diminishing wrinkles lends to the fact that it improves elasticity and is able to repair the moisture barrier effectively by increasing hydration levels.
Keep your eye out for products that contain anywhere from 2-4% of Niacinamide in their formulations, since these are the most suited for its positive effects on skin. Although Niacinamide is safe and can be used by all skin types, individuals with very sensitive skin should err on the side of caution and use lower concentrations since it can potentially cause flushing (redness and warmth). Regardless of your choice in concentration, always remember to read your labels and use only toxin-free skin care products.
Sources: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2011, pg 87–99; British Journal of Dermatology, December 2009, pg 1,357–1,364; Dermatologic Surgery, July 2005, pg 860-865; Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2004, pg 88; and Journal of Dermatological Science, volume 31, 2003, pg 193-201; Begoun, Paula. Don't go to the cosmetics counter without me. 2008, 7th Edition, pg 1083-1084 & 1128.