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Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial


  • Conflicts of interest
    This study was funded by Procter & Gamble Beauty, Cincinnati, OH, U.S.A. A.B.K. has served as consultant and investigator and has received grants and honoraria from Procter & Gamble Beauty. J.R.K., J.L., L.R.R. and K.M. are employees of Procter & Gamble Beauty. C.A.B. and D.L.B. were employees of Procter & Gamble Beauty at the time of the study. P.J.M. is an employee of the Procter & Gamble Company, Egham, Surrey, U.K.

  • These data have been shared in part as a poster at the meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (San Francisco, March 2006) and in the Royal Society of Medicine International Congress and Symposium Series 264, 2005 [McClanahan S. N-acetyl glucosamine/niacinamide combination – comparative clinical studies in skin hyperpigmentation. In: Reduction of Skin Hyperpigmentation – Cosmetic Considerations (Gray J, ed.; Bissett D, Matts P, McClanahan S, Grammer K, Kimball A, associate eds). London: Royal Society of Medicine Press, Ltd, 2007; 19–29].

Alexa B. Kimball. E-mail:


Background  Topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) each individually inhibit epidermal pigmentation in cell culture. In small clinical studies, niacinamide-containing and NAG-containing formulations reduced the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

Objectives  To assess the effect of a combination of niacinamide and NAG in a topical moisturizing formulation on irregular facial pigmentation, including specific detection of changes in colour features associated with melanin.

Methods  This was a 10-week, double-blind, vehicle-controlled, full-face, parallel-group clinical study conducted in women aged 40–60 years. After a 2-week washout period, subjects used a daily regimen of either a morning sun protection factor (SPF) 15 sunscreen moisturizing lotion and evening moisturizing cream each containing 4% niacinamide + 2% NAG (test formulation; n = 101) or the SPF 15 lotion and cream vehicles (vehicle control; n = 101). Product-induced changes in apparent pigmentation were assessed by capturing digital photographic images of the women after 0, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of product use and evaluating the images by algorithm-based computer image analysis for coloured spot area fraction, by expert visual grading, and by chromophore-specific image analysis based on noncontact SIAscopy™ for melanin spot area fraction and melanin chromophore evenness.

Results  By all four measures, the niacinamide + NAG formulation regimen was significantly (P < 0·05) more effective than the vehicle control formulation regimen in reducing the detectable area of facial spots and the appearance of pigmentation.

Conclusions  A formulation containing the combination of niacinamide + NAG reduced the appearance of irregular pigmentation including hypermelaninization, providing an effect beyond that achieved with SPF 15 sunscreen.