Sitting snugly between Vitamins A and C, Vitamin B is no middle child in the alphabet of skin vitamins. The BZZZZ around this heavy hitter of skin health vitamin B3, has been created by a plethora of recent scientific studies attesting to it’s many benefits either when applied topically or taken by mouth.
Lets get down to B3 business!
B3 is a water-soluble vitamin, not stored in the body and acquired from our dietary intake. B3 containing foods include chicken, pork, beef, fish, legumes, nuts, grain products, mushrooms, yeast extracts and coffee…..yay bread and coffee !
Vitamin B3 has 3 subtypes, also known as nicotinamide, niacinamide and nicotinic acid, all forming part of the larger collective of essential B complex vitamins, which play a number of key roles in the metabolic processes within our body which are essential for skin health.
Niacinamide and /nicotinamide’s low molecular weight allows it to easily makes it easy to penetrate the skin and are the most efficacious of the B vitamins. Together with B3’s beneficial skin health properties, it’s a popular cosmeceutical ingredient.
One of niacinamide and /nicotinamide properties is their ability to restore barrier function in the skin by increasing synthesis of keratinocytes and ceramides. Ceramides make up the protective skin lipids aiding in lubrication, maintaining hydration and together protect against irritants, helping to reduce redness.
Note that of all the B3 vitamin types nicotinic acid has a vasodilatory effect, which can cause flushing, and itching in the skin, and for this reason is not generally included in skin care.
This skincare ‘Swiss Army’ knife of skin vitamins is a multi- tool able to effectively manage multiple skin conditions including hyperpigmentation, acne, rosacea wrinkling and photo-aging simultaneously, making it essential in any skin care routine specifically targeting these conditions. B3 vitamins can be used in formulations up to 5% niacinamide with a low incidence of irritation and is a great wingman to the Retinols, helping to increase the tolerability of topical Vitamin A.
The ‘B3-Hive’ of Skin Benefits at a glance…..
- Has a broad anti-inflammatory activity
- Assists in wound healing
- Assists in post inflammatory hyperpigmentation by acting as a tyrosinase inhibitor interrupting melanin production
- Helps to regulate sebum production
- Reduces pore size
- Effective skin lightening properties.
- Acts as a tyrosinase inhibitor preventing the transfer of melanosomes to keratinocytes,
- Safe for use whilst pregnant/breastfeeding including as treatment for pigmentation brought on by hormonal changes during pregnancy referred to as Melasma or the Mask of Pregnancy
- Benefits are temporary and hyerpigmentation if use is discontinued.
- Increases collagen production
- Decreases excess glycosaminoglycan (GAG) production in the upper layers of the skin (we need GAGS to act as part of the supporting structure of the dermis but too much results in a poor skin appearance)
- Inhibits protein glycation helping to prevent the degradation of collagen
- Skin sallowness seen in actinically damaged skin is believed to be a result of glycated cross-linked yellow-brown proteins that accumulate in the skin after sun exposure – photoaging. Vit B3 helps to repair the DNA damage in keratinocytes caused by UV exposure.
- Maintains hydration
- Restores barrier function which is disrupted by these conditions.
- Anti inflammatory.
- Assists in wound healing.
- Topically applied niacinamide has been shown to help reduce and prevent erythema induced by solar stimulated light.
- Oral niacinamide reduces the onset of non-melanoma skin cancer
Vitamin B3 is More than a pretty face…..!
Vitamin B3’s skin health properties extend beyond it’s cosmeceutical uses. Studies show that people who had previously been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers and who supplemented their intake with an additional 500mg nicotinamide twice a day, over a period of one year found a 23% reduction in new diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancers.
Dr Gary Halliday, a dermatologist from the University of Sydney, states “Niacinimide plays an important role in the prevention of non-melanoma skin cancers and is ‘now widely prescribed by Dermatologists in Australia”, confirming it’s beneficial role in skin health
Side effects from the topical application of nicotinamide are minor and rare and include: mild burning, itching and redness and resolve quickly with discontinued use.
Cross pollination and patents pending!
During my research for this blogpost I stumbled across a patent pending with Proctor and Gamble for formulation of a new product containing both vitamin A and nicotinamide…………definitely something to watch out for!
The BZZZZ around Vit B3 – particularly in its Niacinamide form – whether taken orally or as a cosmeceutical ingredient make it a popular choice due to it’s ablility to treat a wide variety of skin conditions and for it’s ability to be well tolerated with little or no side effects.
In my opinion the skin alphabet would be lost without it!