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

Br J Dermatol. 2010 Feb 1;162(2):435-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09477.x. Epub 2009 Aug 28.


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.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylglucosamine / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Face
  • Female
  • Glucosamine / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Hyperpigmentation / drug therapy*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Middle Aged
  • Niacinamide / administration & dosage*
  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Skin Pigmentation / drug effects*
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Pharmaceutical Vehicles
  • Niacinamide
  • Glucosamine
  • Acetylglucosamine