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La niacinamide, un actif efficace contre les taches brunes.

Niacinamide, Effective Against Dark Spots?

Niacinamide is a derivative of vitamin B3 with multiple benefits for the skin. It calms irritation and redness, reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots, regulates sebum secretion, prevents the appearance of imperfections and improves skin elasticity. In this article, find out how it acts on hyperpigmentation.

Summary
Published January 10, 2022, updated on June 3, 2024, by Maylis, Chemical Engineer — 5 min read

What Is Niacinamide?

Also known as vitamin B3, nicotinamide or vitamin PP (Pellagra Preventive), niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin of the B group with antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. 

It is essential to provide it to the body via the diet because it synthesizes only a small amount. Niacinamide is naturally present in cereals, legumes, tea, coffee, and meat (liver, offal). Its role is essential to the body: niacinamide is involved in the production of the essential coenzymes NAD and NADP, known as energy transfer molecules.


In a cosmetic care, this vitamin is multi-functional. It is used to care for mature skin thanks to its antioxidant properties and its ability to stimulate collagen synthesis. It can also be found in skin care products for combination to oily skin, as it regulates sebum and limits the appearance of imperfections. Finally, it is an ally of choice for dry and dehydrated skin: it promotes the production of lipids and restores the hydrolipidic film.

What Are Dark Spots?

Hyperpigmentation is the dermatological term for persistent spots that appear on the surface of the skin. This phenomenon occurs as a result of a disturbance in the pigmentation process: melanin, the pigment responsible for the natural coloring of the skin, is overproduced in certain areas. The spots that appear then are of variable size and impact the uniformity of the complexion. Spots related to hyperpigmentation can be classified into three categories:

  • melasma caused by hormonal imbalances;

  • lentigo due to excessive sun exposure;

  • post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation which results from an overproduction of melanin after an inflammation (wounds, burns, blemishes, acne outbreaks).

Please note: The use of certain perfumes and the use of certain medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-malaria drugs and Imipramin can also be causes of hyperpigmentation.

Niacinamide For Hyperpigmentation.

Studies have shown that niacinamide as a skincare ingredient applied to the dark spots on the skin can lighten the complexion and reduce their appearance. Researchers have found that 4% niacinamide works as well as 4% hydroquinone in reducing hyperpigmentation. As a reminder, hydroquinone is a recognized whitening ingredient but has been banned in Europe in cosmetic products since 2001 due to its carcinogenic potential.

Two biological actions are at the origin of this lightening faculty of niacinamide:

  • It inhibits the transfer of the melanosomes from melanocytes to keratinocytes. As a reminder, skin pigmentation is a complex process that begins in cells called melanocytes which themselves contain organelles (melanosomes) in which melanin is synthesized. These melanosomes are then transferred to the surrounding keratinocytes, which then transport the pigment and eventually break it down.

  • It stimulates the synthesis of collagen. Although the biological mechanism has not yet been elucidated, studies have shown niacinamide's ability to boost collagen production, reducing the appearance of pigmentation spots due to photoaging (aging of the skin caused by the sun's UVA rays).

Typology unifying serum with 12% niacinamide as an ingredient is a highly concentrated treatment that reduces the appearance of dark spots by applying 3 to 4 drops to a cleansed and dried face morning and night. We recommend using the niacinamide serum for 4 weeks to see the effects.

The unifying toner is less concentrated than the niacinamide serum (7%) but still provides its benefits to the skin. In addition, it reduces imperfections and associated redness, and refines skin texture.

Sources

  • SCHNICKER M.S. & al. Niacinamide stimulates collagen synthesis from human dermal fibroblasts and differentiation marker in normal human epidermal keratinocytes: Potential of niacinamide to normalize aged skin cells to correct homeostatic balance. 59th Annual Meeting American Academy of Dermatology (2001).

  • BOISSY R. E. & al. The effect of niacinamide on reducing cutaneous pigmentation and suppression of melanosome transfer. British Journal of Dermatology (2002).

  • MONCADA B. & al. A double-blind, randomized clinical trial of niacinamide 4% versus hydroquinone 4% in the treatment of melasma. Dermatology Research and Practice (2011).

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