If you've always wondered which naturally-derived ingredient could help you with your skin woes, you've probably found the answer in the essential vitamin - niacinamide. Niacinamide is a powerhouse ingredient that has fast-gained popularity in the beauty industry. In simple Ayurvedic terms, it enhances your Varna or radiant complexion. To understand this essential vitamin, let's first dive into the characteristics of Varna or complexion.
The age-old practice of Ayurveda specifies that healthy and radiant skin is an essential component of natural beauty and a reflection of your overall well-being. The appearance of the twak or twacha (skin) gives a clue about your Ayurvedic doshas - Kapha, Vata, or Pitta.
To understand the nuances of the skin and the Ayurvedic products that complement it, we must first know how the skin develops. In the ancient scripture Sushruta Samhita, Acharya Sushruta describes the formation of twacha (skin) in a growing fetus. He says the skin develops like a layer of Santanika (cream) on heated Ksheer (milk) due to the union of shukra (semen) and shonita (ovum) with Jeeva (life). Over time, the twacha develops consecutively owing to the peculiar synchronized action of Pitta dosha. On the other hand, Acharya Vagbhata has stressed the fact that the formation of the skin is due to the principal role played by the Rakta Dhatu (blood).
As per Ayurveda, the Pitta is primarily responsible for the skin's color, texture, luster, and glow. Balancing the color Pitta can go a long way in helping you support healthy skin.
Ayurveda specifies that healthy and radiant skin is essential to our body. We have often heard about the benefits of utilizing vitamins A, C, and E to nourish our skin and hair. As times have changed, vitamin B has become the talk of the town. Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is an active form of niacin of vitamin B.
Niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3) is a hydrophilic substance, making it a water-soluble vitamin that the body cannot synthesize. It is typically consumed or applied topically to the skin. According to research, this antioxidant interferes in the transfer of melanosomes (a site that stores and transports melanin) from melanocytes to keratinocytes. This means that niacinamide works to stop the transfer of melanin (which darkens the skin) to the skin cells (keratinocytes). Overall, this aids the process of skin brightening. It has also proven to be a key ingredient in reducing acne, rosacea dermatitis, and premature aging, to name a few.
It is naturally found in several foods, such as cheese, meat, fish, soya milk, eggs, peanuts, avocados, green vegetables, and whole wheat. Dietary choices can go a long way in helping you balance skin issues. Ayurveda recommends you tend to your Ahara (diet) to see a glow inside out.
The best thing about niacinamide is that it is apt for all skin types, and no severe side effects are seen in its topical use. First-time users may see mild redness, which goes away as their skin gets accustomed to it. The suitable skincare formulation can do wonders for your Avabhasini (top-most layer of the skin).
Niacinamide, when clubbed with hyaluronic acid or glycerin, acts as a lipid barrier, helping your skin grow ceramide. Niacinamide also helps increase the proliferation of keratinocytes (skin cells in the outermost layer of the skin that produces keratin). This, in turn, allows the skin to retain moisture while reducing transepidermal water loss.
Niacinamide is the perfect ingredient that controls oil production by sebaceous glands. This contrasts with other components, such as clay or starch, that only absorb external oil. Niacinamide targets oily skin at its source by slowing its release.
Pores usually appear larger with excess oil and dead skin. Clinically, niacinamide is proven to reduce the appearance of pores and improve skin texture with topical application.
With its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and sebum-controlling properties, niacinamide helps treat severe acne such as papules and pustules. It also helps reduce acne scars over two to six weeks.
Reverses signs of aging
Research shows that niacinamide helps reduce the look of the signs of aging, such as wrinkles, fine lines, and the appearance of sunspots. This is due to the production of collagen while reducing the immunosuppressive effects of UV rays. It also improves the appearance of under-eye wrinkles in six to eight weeks.
The skin around your eyes is thin and lacks collagen, elastin, and oil glands. External factors such as pollution, UV lights, and harsh weather conditions result in the skin around the eye being prone to signs of premature aging, such as dark circles, fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity.
According to Ayurveda, an aggravated Vata or Pitta doshacan further result in the under eyes looking saggy and dark. It could be due to constricted blood vessels or overproduction of melanin pigment, resulting in crow's feet, baggy eyes, and dark circles.
This is where niacinamide comes into play. When combined with the right Ayurvedic herbs such as manjistha or aloe vera, under-eye creams or gels moisturize the skin and improve its overall physiology and texture while resisting loss of firmness. Additionally, you must remember to get adequate sleep, avoid stress, and drink sufficient water to rejuvenate your skin as per your dosha.
This essential vitamin can be incorporated into your morning or evening routine after cleansing and toning. Since niacinamide is now found in several toners, serums, moisturizers, and eye gels, you need to choose the proper concentration (between 2% to 10%) as per your skin type, your dosha, and age.
For Vata skin: Vata skin has tremendous energy; typically dry, dull, uneven, and prone to wrinkles and fine lines. Implementing an ingredient like niacinamide which contains intensely hydrating properties, is perfect for this skin type. It will help retain moisture and reduce the first signs of aging.
For Kapha skin: Kapha skin is oily, has large visible pores, and is prone to breakouts. Ingredients such as niacinamide help Kapha skin types feel hydrated and nourished, owing to its ability to control sebum production.
For Pitta skin: Characterized by fiery energy, Pitta skin types are susceptible to redness and inflammation and easily prone to sun damage. Niacinamide can significantly help this skin type reduce hyperpigmentation, acne, and inflammation owing to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
Versatile in nature, niacinamide can be paired with several actives. It's a one-size-fits-all ingredient that can be used for the face, eyes, and neck. Typically, the following combos make for excellent choices in your skincare regime:
Niacinamide + Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant which means it derives moisture from its environment. Since both these ingredients are water-soluble, they may help in maintaining an overall pH balance. Combined, they may make your skin look firmer, smoother, with a radiant complexion.
Niacinamide + Manjistha (Indian Madder)
The magical herb Manjistha contains glycosides that balance the Pitta while brightening the skin. According to Ayurvedic scriptures, this herb is Varnya (enhances radiance), Rakta Prasadaka (soothes the blood), and Rakta Sodhaka (purifies the blood). When combined with niacinamide, it may help in brightening the appearance of the skin, reduce the look of hyperpigmentation, and even the Varnakrit (skin tone).
Niacinamide + Salicylic Acid
Salicylic acid is a desmolytic agent (encouraging cellular turnover and exfoliation while acting as a glue between skin cells) with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Together the cytokines of niacinamide and anti-inflammatory properties of salicylic acid work wonders. Combined, it reduces the look of redness and congestion while balancing oil production and eventual breakouts.
Niacinamide + Ghrit Kumari (Aloe Vera)
As an anti-inflammatory and hydrating herb for the skin, aloe vera consists of essential vitamins, amino acids, polysaccharides, and phytosterols. Ayurveda points out that this Rasayana herb is anti-aging, healing, and protects the skin from everyday wear and tear. Aloe vera and niacinamide make a powerful combination to rejuvenate the look of the skin.
Niacinamide + Kalonji (Nigella Sativa or Blackseed)
Nigella Sativa, or blackseed, is known to be antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It contains the potent active ingredient thymoquinone, amino acids, vitamin A, and omega 3, 6, and 9. Niacinamide aids collagen and elastin production while reducing signs of premature aging and promoting clearer, younger-looking skin.
We understand that innumerable products available today can often be confusing. Niacinamide is a miracle ingredient that helps resolve several skin conditions. It's a vitamin every dosha-specific skin will grow to love, with results between 8-12 weeks.
Remember that choosing products in tune with your unique needs is essential to support more profound healing.
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