Acne Treatment with Topical Niacinamide

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Acne Treatment with Topical Niacinamide


Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin-B3 or Niacin. The topical version of Niacinamide is formulated in a water-alcohol base so that it can penetrate the skin more easily.

The role of Topical Niacinamide in acne treatment is the reduction of inflammation and redness that occurs in most acne lesions. Niacinamide is an effective topical anti-inflammatory agent that has mild exfoliating action, enabling the skin to shed old skin cells and prevent pore blockage.

The mild exfoliating action of niacinamide is attributed to its ability to speed up the differentiation or cell division of keratinocytes. This acne medication also acts as a mild moisturizer that increases the ceramide and free fatty acids in the skin. Topical niacinamide can also mildly reduce the amount of sebum on the oil gland. Some people use topical niacinamide as a very safe skin lightening agent.

Precautions and Side Effects:

  • Topical Niacinamide can be used by pregnant women and is safe during pregnancy
  • This acne treatment product is not intended to be used on children.
Side Effects
  • No adverse side effects
  • Mild exfoliation, lightening of the skin



Data demonstrate that 4% nicotinamide gel is of comparable efficacy to 1% clindamycin gel in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Because topical clindamycin, like other antimicrobials, is associated with the emergence of resistant microorganisms, nicotinamide gel is a desirable alternative treatment for acne vulgaris.

(Source: Shalita AR, Smith JG, Parish LC, Sofman MS, Chalker DK. Department of Dermatology, State University of New York, College of Medicine, Brooklyn, USA.)

The topical application of niacinamide increases ceramide and free fatty acid levels in the skin, it prevents the skin from losing water content and it stimulates microcirculation in the dermis.

(Source: British Journal of Dermatology, September 2000, pages 524?531; and Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2004, page 88)

2% niacinamide was shown in one small study to be more effective than petrolatum (Vaseline) for reducing water loss from skin and increasing its hydration levels.

(Source: International Journal of Dermatology, March 2005, pages 197-202)

Fifty subjects applied the 2% niacinamide moisturizer to the face for 4 weeks and 50 subjects used a placebo moisturizer for 4 weeks, with sebum excretion rate (SER) measurements taken at baseline, week 2, and week 4. Also, 30 Caucasian subjects were enrolled in a randomized split-face study for 6 weeks with SER and casual sebum levels (CSL) measured at baseline, week 3, and week 6.


The results of the Japanese study demonstrated that the SER of the two groups was not significantly different at baseline, but the 2% niacinamide treated group demonstrated significantly lowered SER after 2 and 4 weeks of application. The results were somewhat different in the Caucasian study. After 6 weeks of treatment, the CSL was significantly reduced, but the SER was not significantly reduced. Conclusions: Topical 2% niacinamide may be effective in lowering the SER in Japanese individuals and CSL in Caucasian individuals.

(Source: Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, Volume 8, Number 2, June 2006, pp. 96-101(6) The effect of 2% niacinamide on facial sebum production, Authors: Draelos, Zoe Diana1; Matsubara, Akira2; Smiles, Kenneth3)

Product Information

Topical niacinamide is available in cream, lotion, or gel form. Niacinamide concentration ranges from 2% to 10% by weight.


Reviews and Comments

“Although topical niacinamide does not kill acne-causing bacteria, this acne medicine is a very good adjunct in multi-therapy acne treatment. Topical niacinamide is indeed a good anti-inflammatory and I have used this anti-acne product to treat Seborrheic dermatitis and it works very well in reducing skin lesions.”


1. Sorg O, Antille C, Saurat JH. Retinoids, other topical vitamins, and antioxidants. Photoaging. Marcel Dekker, 2004: 89-115.
2. Chiu A, Kimball AB. Topical vitamins, minerals, and botanical ingredients as modulators of environmental and chronological skin damage. Br J Dermatol 2003; 149(4): 681-691.
3. Lupo MP. Antioxidants and vitamins in cosmetics. Clinics in Dermatology 2001; 19:467-473.
4. Using Aldara, copper peptide, and niacinamide for skincare. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 24, Issue 1, Pages 83-84
J. Carraway

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