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Three Natural Compounds to Manage Brown Spots: Part 2


Liver spots (age spots) are the natural consequence of chronic sun exposure. This column is the second in a series in which I'll review 3 natural compounds that help to normalize melanin output and promote even pigment distribution for the appearance of even-toned, younger looking skin.

As the safety concerns mount for the traditional prescription therapy of hydroquinone, I've been looking for a while now into safer, more natural ingredients to help lighten pigment.

The second is niacinamide. A derivative of niacin (vitamin B3), niacinamide suppresses transfer of melanin from pigment-producing melanocytes to neighboring skin cells by up to 68%. In other words, while alpha-arbutin blocks the production of melanin in the skin, niacinamide prevents the accumulation of melanin in the epidermis that leads to dark skin spots. Two great natural ingredients with 2 different mechanisms of action.

In a double-blind clinical trial of 18 women aged 25-60 years, topical niacinamide was applied twice daily to one side fo the face and placebo to the other side of the face for 8 weeks. The treated area had a 25% pigmented reduction. In another study, 8 weeks of topical niacinamide was shown to be nearly as effective as hydroquinone for treating melasma. Bonus: the niacinamide produced fewer side effects that the hydroquinone.

For my patients, I supply 5% niacinamide in a nighttime moisturizer with my signature B3 Balm. Stay tuned for next month and another holistic option for lightening those pesky spots.

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