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Vitamin B3: The Gold Standard Skincare Ingredient

The multitasking all-rounder that your skin will thank you for

Vitamin C often hogs the limelight, leaving other vital vitamins a little bit in the shade.

Go back in the vitamin alphabet slightly, and you’ll find the complex and multifaced Vitamin B3, which could be the unsung hero of skincare.

It is a brilliant multitasker in the skin-boosting stakes and is supported by long-standing research.

It communicates with your skin cells to make your skin clearer, healthier, and act younger.

Addressing a range of skin concerns, it is one of the most stable and active ingredients used in skincare with a neutral pH.

Our go-to guide provides further insights into this hard-working ingredient and how you can incorporate it into your skincare routine.

What is Vitamin B3?

When referring to this essential ingredient’s skin benefits, we talk about a specific form of B3 (an amide) known as Nicotinamide or Niacinamide.

It is a crucial water-soluble vitamin that is not synthesised in the body, meaning our bodies don’t produce it independently. Therefore, if we want to reap the benefits, it needs to be applied topically or ingested via a supplement.

What are the benefits?

It promotes the barrier function

Vitamin B3 is particularly beneficial because it can strengthen your barrier function, the first line of defence against environmental aggressors like UV exposure, pollution, and irritants.

Niacinamide boosts the barrier function by increasing the production of ceramides and improves the synthesis of healthy fats and barrier proteins such as keratin, involucrin, and filaggrin, making it perfect for an impaired barrier.

It can improve dehydration

Vitamin B3 can help prevent water loss from your skin’s tissues (TEWL), and your skin’s natural hyaluronic acid levels are boosted.

Targets hyperpigmentation 

The benefits also extend to uneven skin tone, as this clever ingredient signals the melanocyte cells to stop producing melanin, reducing hyperpigmentation.

A split-face study was carried out in 2011 over eight weeks with 27 participants. What was found was that a topical application of 4 per cent Vitamin B3 was nearly as effective as the controversial 4 per cent hydroquinone. The study found that 44 per cent saw good-to-excellent improvements with Vitamin B3, and 55 per cent saw the same with Hydroquinone. Thus proving that vitamin B3, with its fewer side effects, can significantly help to reduce hyperpigmentation within your skin.

When combined with N.acetyl glucosamine, it is even more powerful, which is why we recently added this ingredient to our B+ Niacinamide complex.

Decreases fine line

Topical vitamin B3 can reduce the appearance of fine lines on your skin by increasing collagen production and reducing excess glycosaminoglycan (GAGs). These Gags are structural components of your skin extracellular matrix; they crosslink to other matrix proteins like collagen and can form supermolecular structures that can increase tissue stiffness, causing many signs of ageing.

The cool thing, vitamin B3 can reverse this, so we use a potent formula with 10% blended with vitamin B5 – Panthenol and N.Aceyyl Glucosamine.

Treats acne

It can help to reduce papules and pustules – and the inflammation around them. Two double-blind studies published by the international journal of dermatology shows a topical application of 4 per cent Vitamin B3 treated acne just as well as 1 per cent of topical antibiotic Clindamycin, which is commonly prescribed to acne patients.

The oral version is also great at treating acne, especially when some oral medications such as antibiotics aren’t well tolerated.

Ideal for those with oily and combination skin

If you suffer from daily shine, further research suggests that applying just 2 per cent Vitamin B3 daily can significantly slow down the flow of oil onto your skin’s surface.

The other great thing about vitamin B3 is that it is relatively non-irritating compared to other acne treatments, making it a desirable option for those with combination skin prone to bouts of inflammation.

Has the potential to treat skin cancer?

Ask a dermatologist what niacinamide does best, and there will probably be skin cancer prevention.

To understand this further, let’s take a quick look at some skin science; Vitamin B3 is a precursor to two essential biochemical cofactors: Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide and Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide Phosphate; these molecules are central to your cells’ chemical reactions – including skin cells – which need to repair, propagate, and function normally. Many of these essential reactions can’t occur at all without NAD+, which your cells can’t make without niacinamide.

By supplying your body with the precursor, more NAD+ can be created, fuelling cellular proliferation and allowing your body to absorb and neutralise more free radicals.

Incorporating it into your routine

So as we can see, Vitamin B3 is one of the most versatile ingredients available. Most of the successful studies have been centred around using topical preparations containing 2 per cent to 10 per cent. Our B+ niacinamide complex contains 10%, and we are seeing great results on ageing skin, and with it helping to balance oily, combination skin and target breakouts and acne. With the added addition of N Acetyl Glucosamine, we see that after three months, it is lifting hyperpigmentation and PIH from the skin.

It is versatile and can be incorporated anytime into your routine. With one exception, if you are using a Vitamin C product, we recommend using it at the opposite time of day, ideally, nighttime. Vitamin C is recommended for daily wear because of its potent antioxidant properties that ward off the damaging free radicals from UV rays.

Can vitamin B2 cause facial flushing?

This is where we need to look closely at the ingredients Nicotinic Acid versus Nicotinamide or Niacinimide.

There is one common misconception when it comes to using Vitamin B3. Nicotinamide is a specific amide – a particular chemical structure form ofB3. It is not niacin, which is the acid version of Vitamin B3. On occasion, it can have the unpleasant side effect of causing the skin to flush; Nicotinamide or Niacinimide doesn’t have this side effect.

So if you’re not into having a red face on occasion, be sure to scan your products Inci list, and don’t make the mistake of assuming that it is still the same ingredient despite the lack of “amide”.

The naked truth

In short, vitamin B3 is an incredibly restorative ingredient. It helps restore energy in the cell, repair damage to our DNA, fight off external stressors that can lead to premature ageing, prevent lines and wrinkles by reducing GAGs, and lift discolouration by preventing the transfer of pigment within the skin. It is also extremely balancing on an oily, combination skin type and helps to clear up acne and breakouts.

Vitamin B3’s anti-inflammatory properties also help to reduce redness and irritation whilst strengthening the skin’s barrier.

No wonder it’s given a gold star for its multitasking abilities. So we think you’ll agree, with so many benefits it brings to the skin, this is one little beauty ingredient that should be incorporated into your skincare routine.

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