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I’ve been using Metazene for a little over a week, twice daily on my face.

Q:I’ve been using Metazene for a little over a week, twice daily on my face. The results I’m seeing so far are amazing! The redness and irritation of my facial skin (from a long-running case of seborrheic dermatitis compounded with light-to-moderate acne) have almost totally vanished, and the texture has smoothed out quite a bit. Even the acne is disappearing…

So this brings me to a rather pointed question about Metazene. I’ve used aloe vera gel on my skin before and never had results like these, so I know it must indeed be whatever you are putting into the Metazene as the active ingredient, which you claim is the nicotinamide/niacinamide variant of vitamin B3. Is this truly what you’re using in Metazene, or are you using something else, something that maybe you’re not supposed to?

A:As stated on the label of the bottle, Metazene has three active ingredients:

  • niacinamide
  • extract of Hamamelis virginiana, and
  • Aloe barbadensis leaf juice.

There are no other active ingredients — and there don’t need to be any, as you will realize once you understand what these three ingredients do in the skin.


Niacinamide (aka ‘nicotinamide’) is a member of the vitamin B3 family. Niacinamide by itself has a scientifically documented track record as an anti-acne treatment.1 For example, researchers at the State University of New York showed in 1995 that 4% topical niacinamide gave results comparable to that achieved by clindamycin (a powerful antibiotic used for acne).2

How does it do this?

  • It suppresses inflammation,3 the cause of much of the skin disruption seen in dermatitis and acne;
  • It reduces sebum production by hair follicles,4 limiting its availability to bacteria which thrive in it;
  • It improves the skin’s water barrier function,5 which is impaired in dermatitis- and acne-prone skin.6

Hamamelis extract

Extracts of Hamamelis virginiana (aka ‘witch hazel’) have strong anti-inflammatory actions in the skin.7 The effect is thought to be due an influence of some component of the extract on signaling molecules used by the immune system.8 By itself, Hamamelis is not a good anti-acne treatment. But it appears to work synergistically with niacinamide and aloe to produce a large effect.

Aloe leaf extract

Aloe, a gelatinous substance from the plant Aloe barbadensis (aka ‘Aloe vera’), is a traditional herbal remedy used mainly for skin ailments.9 Aloe is included as an ingredient in Metazene because it stimulates the growth and repair of the skin at the sites of acne lesions (pimples). Aloe also has anti-inflammatory properties that add to those of niacinamide and Hamamelis.10,11


The bottom line here is that Metazene has no secret ingredients because it doesn’t need any. The formula makes use of the fact that all three active ingredients — niacinamide, Hamamelis, and aloe — have anti-inflammatory activities that stem from different mechanisms and therefore reinforce each other. This is ‘synergistic action’ at its finest!


Disclaimer: The information provided in this “Ask Dr. Zarkov” article contains no medical advice whatsoever — it contains biological information. Nothing in the article constitutes an effort to persuade readers to use, or not to use, this biological information as a basis for action.

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