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One additional skin lightening or whitening quasi-drug (QD) has been developed and officially approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan. The active ingredient niacinamide should be included in this review . Its mechanism of skin lightening is based on the inhibition of melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes. Niacinamide is listed in Table 1, which classifies compounds according to the mechanism of skin lightening QDs registered in Japan.
Niacinamide (also termed nicotinamide), a derivative of vitamin B3, has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in acne . Niacinamide had no effect on the tyrosinase activity and melanin synthesis of cultured normal human melanocytes, however, it was found that niacinamide significantly decreased hyperpigmentation, such as melasma and solar lentigines, via inhibition of melanosome transfer from melanocytes to keratinocytes [3,4].