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What is niacinamide and what does it do for hair?

 

At Abyssian, we use only the highest quality natural, cruelty-free, vegan ingredients that you can trust – and we like to showcase star ingredients that get you the most bang for your buck. You may or may not have heard of ‘niacin’ and how it plays a major role in nutritional health. Niacinamide, its vitamin B cousin, has similar benefits to niacin but does not cause skin flushing and redness when applied topically. Let’s explore what is niacinamide and what does it do for your hair?

The chemical structure of niacinamide

Niacinamide vs niacin

Both Niacinamide and niacin are multitasking star ingredients that fall under the vitamin B3 umbrella. For skincare, niacinamide is known for being effective at treating acne, hyperpigmentation, and signs of ageing with the added bonus of being safe for all skin types. On the other hand, niacin is known in the wellness world to support cardiovascular health. They are similar in name and both derive from vitamin B3 but they have key differences.

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a water-soluble nutrient which works in conjunction with natural substances in your skin and hair which is why it is an effective ingredient in skincare and haircare products. It’s also known for treating many skin conditions including eczema and rosacea. It’s a multidimensional super vitamin in the vitamin B family.

What is niacin? 

Niacin, also known as nicotinic acid, is another water-soluble nutritional element in the vitamin B3 family involved in neurotransmission, oxidation, reduction reaction, one-carbon metabolism, and fatty acid synthesis. Our bodies need niacin (and niacinamide) but our bodies don’t naturally produce it. Niacin can be found in red meat, poultry, fish, nuts, mushrooms, and avocado.

What does niacinamide do for hair?

Niacinamide has a number of benefits for hair including the following.

  1. Keratin synthesis
  2. Boosts circulation
  3. Reduces redness
  4. Reduces inflammation
  5. Reduces hair loss
  6. Promotes hair thickness 
  7. Locks in moisture
  8. Protects against environmental damage

Keratin synthesis 

Niacinamide helps increase protein synthesis, which is known as keratin, which is essential for healthy hair structure, health, and strength. Keratin is the main structural component of hair, skin, and nails, so it’s important to support healthy keratin synthesis in the body. Just as food supplements help the body function, niacinamide acts like a supplement for the hair, boosting its function.

Niacinamide also helps ceramide synthesis, which is the glue between protein scales and helps to mend brittle hair. It reinforces hair resistance, thus making it stronger. Read more about its hair-strengthening properties in this PMIDstudy.

Since the all-star ingredient in our Protein Shake Hair Mask is niacinamide, we thought we’d make a play on the name. So, just like protein shakes can help weightlifters build muscle mass, our protein shake hair mask with niacinamide helps support healthy hair function on your head. It’s like a protein shake for your locks! 

Niacinamide provides a stimulating effect as well as stabilising and increasing the protein in the hair, which means stronger, more elastic hair. Since the hair shaft is 98% protein, that means if you don’t have adequate vitamin B3, or niacinamide, as a hair supplement, it can contribute to the weakening of your hair, impacting overall hair health and hair growth. Your hair, without correct nutrition, may appear limp and lifeless, prone to breakage, and appearing flat, lacklustre, and dull. So, just as we nourish our bodies with micronutrients and vitamins, our hair needs it too!

Boosts circulation

Niacinamide promotes strong, healthy hair by nourishing strands but also thanks to its circulation-boosting properties. It helps to improve blood flow and circulation to the scalp, which can provide increased oxygen and other nutrients right where your hair needs them. It thus creates an optimal environment to encourage hair growth. Your hair will have increased body, sheen, and suppleness. Your hair texture will improve and any hair that has been physically or chemically damaged can be rebuilt with the keratin-boosting properties.

Reduces redness and inflammation

For topical skin treatments, niacinamide is used to reduce redness and inflammation, treating eczema, acne, and other inflammatory skin conditions as well as minimising pores, and keeping skin smooth, and moisturised. 

For the scalp, these inflammation-reducing properties carry over and you feel the benefits of a soothed, calm, irritant-free scalp, reducing itchiness which can also lead to hair loss and thinning. For those with inflammatory skin diseases, applying niacinamide to the scalp can reduce redness and prevent inflammatory hair loss. Some research also shows that when applied topically, it increases hair fullness and healthier-looking hair.

Reduces hair loss and promotes hair thickness

As mentioned, since niacinamide boosts blood circulation in the scalp, it also reduces hair loss by increasing the nutrients available to the scalp in hair production. This essential nutrient promotes faster and thicker hair growth.

In a study on hair loss and alopecia, it was concluded that niacinamide helped in improved hair thickness and growth: “Our data demonstrate that niacinamide could enhance hair growth by preventing oxidative stress-induced cell senescence and premature catagen entry of hair follicles.” In other words, your hair grows because niacinamide prevents the hair follicles from moving too early into the “catagen” phase of the growing cycle which is where the hair moves from growing to resting to shedding. Shedding is the loss stage of the hair and once the hair moves too early away from the growth stage, the hair can thin and the overall look of the hair will be less full and voluminous.

The study explains that hair loss is often caused by ageing, nutritional deficiency, hormone imbalances, disease, and stress. But studies where people treated their hair with niacinamide, a long-used active ingredient in anti-hair loss treatments, showed that there was a “significant increase in hair fullness” after use and “participants showed the clear improvement in hair thickness.”

Locks in moisture 

Among its many benefits, niacinamide also helps lock moisture into your hair, which is perfect when used in a repairing and moisturising hair mask like our Protein Shake Hair Mask, also available in our Anti-Pollution Club Set. Niacinamide helps fortify the lipid barrier in the hair, helping produce ceramides which lock in moisture and support strong, hydrated hair. For you that translates to healthy, sleek, and shiny hair.

Protects against environmental damage

Finally, niacinamide protects against environmental damage. We have covered this before but to protect our face and body against sun damage, we throw on some sunscreen but we rarely treat our scalp with the same courtesy. Few of us protect our scalps from harmful UV rays and our scalps are also susceptible to sun damage. Niacinamide is shown in the lab to initiate DNA repair and increase the rate of cellular reproduction (i.e. cell renewal and regeneration). Plus, products rich in vitamin B3 can support the healing of skin damage. Some even study niacinamide as a way to reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

For those who use heating and styling tools, niacinamide can rebuild the hair and protect it from heat tools and colouring hair dyes. It protects against pollution, helps repair the hair, and scalp and fixes the look of brittle, dry hair.

 

Can all hair types use niacinamide? 

The short answer is, yes, niacinamide can be used safely on all hair types and textures but it’s especially helpful with those with alopecia and hair thinning as well as inflammatory skin diseases. Niacinamide strengthens the hair and replenishes it to full health.

Where can I find hair care that contains niacinamide?

At Abyssian, you can find niacinamide as one of our star ingredients in our Protein Shake Hair Mask.

Our Protein Shake Hair Mask is silicone-free, vegan, and cruelty-free made of 96% natural plant-based ingredients. It’s like a protein shake for your hair where it can rebuild your hair’s strength, structure, and texture. Your hair is protected against urban aggressors from the scalp to the hair’s cuticles all the way to the end of each strand. 

Our star chemists designed the speciality patented KeraPlantin™ by selecting three plant proteins (in around 1,000 crops that were designed for hair strength and structure) to create a compound that’s proven to increase your hair’s strength by 2.2x and reduce split ends and breakage by 53%.

The solution also contains 2% niacinamide, our showcase ingredient this month, which is proven to rebuild keratin proteins, reduce inflammation, and improve hair growth and circulation. 

You also get castor oil to tame the frizz and mint extract to preserve colour and reduce oxidation.

You can find it on its own here or as part of our Anti-Pollution Club Set which includes

  • Superfood recovery shampoo
  • Daily shield superfood conditioner
  • Protein shake hair mask
  • Sunday detox exfoliating shampoo

 

The takeaways

Niacinamide has a multitude of benefits from synthesising keratin to reducing inflammation, boosting circulation, and redness to promoting hair growth, reducing loss, promoting hair thickness, keeping in moisture, and protecting against environmental damage. It’s a superfood ingredient for your hair and everyone could use a little hair TLC. 

Let us know if you’ve seen improved results from using our Protein Shake Hair Mask. Tag us on Instagram @abyssianbeauty with #proteinshakehairmaskresults

References

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