What is Vitamin B3?

What is Vitamin B3?

Written by Dr. Joshua Townley, BForensSc, PhD.

chemical and molecular structure of vitamin b3


What is Vitamin B3?

With so many ‘special ingredients’ in skincare products these days it can be difficult to know which offer real benefits, and which are just a passing fad. But one ingredient that’s here to stay is Vitamin B3, which has been proven to deliver a range of benefits for the skin.

Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, is an essential nutrient in the body. Its active form, niacinamide, is an important precursor to the molecules that make up the fundamental energy ‘currency’ units used within the cells, and drive metabolism1. A dietary deficiency of Vitamin B3 can cause pellagra, a potentially debilitating condition that causes an array of symptoms throughout the body.

Niacinamide can also boost the effectiveness of other moisturisers, making it a valuable addition to moisturising creams, especially those for the face.

Dr. Joshua Townley


Improving skin tone and texture

Researchers have studied the effect of niacinamide on mature or sun-damaged facial skin in several clinical trials1. Participants applied a cream containing 5% niacinamide to one side of their face, and a placebo cream with no niacinamide to the other, without knowing which was which. By comparing high-resolution photographs throughout the 12 and 8-week studies, skin texture and roughness could be judged at various time points. The researchers found that the cream containing niacinamide produced a significant improvement in skin texture appearance, compared to the placebo cream2.

Boosting the effectiveness of moisturisers

While niacinamide has been found to help reduce water loss from the skin in its own right3, it can also boost the effectiveness of other moisturisers, making it a valuable addition to moisturising creams, especially those for the face. When researchers studied the effect of combining niacinamide with glycerin, a common moisturising ingredient, they found it was more effective at relieving dry skin than glycerin alone4. It also resulted in a greater improvement than other combinations of moisturisers without niacinamide.

Supporting the skin barrier function

Niacinamide has been shown to help support the natural formation of skin barrier components, like ceramides and keratin, which are important for normal skin barrier function5. As a result, skin appears healthier, feels more elastic5, and is more resilient against moisture loss4.

Helping reduce skin damage through antioxidants

Exposure to UV radiation can create reactive oxygen species and free radicals, which are responsible for some forms of skin damage. Niacinamide possesses antioxidant properties, which may help to reduce the harmful effects of UV-radiation, although how this works is still unknown6.

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