Beauty education

Vitamin B3

Elise Deylgat

As you probably already know, vitamins play an important role in the condition of your skin and are therefore often used as ingredients in cosmetics. In the previous blogs, we have already spoken about vitamin A and vitamin C but which benefits does vitamin B3 offer for your skin? Let’s take a closer look at niacinamide (aka. Vitamin B3).




What is vitamin B3 and where can I find it?

Niacinamide, also nicotinamide or vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for the human body. Vitamin B3 can be found in various foods: meat and fish, poultry, nuts, seeds and grain products. In addition, the body can partly produce vitamin B3 itself from the amino acid tryptophan (a building block of proteins). Vitamin B3 plays an important role in the energy supply of cells and is important for a healthy skin.

Which benefits can niacinamide offer for my skin?

This vitamin is a true multifunctional ingredient for the skin.

1. Pigmentation and melasma

Topical niacinamide has been shown in several clinical studies to reduce facial hyperpigmentation appearance, in particular, hyperpigmented spots 1-4. The effect of niacinamide is already visible after four weeks of treatment.1

In addition, niacinamide targets differently on the biological pathway than other anti-pigmentation ingredients. Most ingredients, like hydroquinone and vitamin C, work as tyrosinase inhibitors that slow down the speed of pigment creation. Vitamin B3 works downstream from the tyrosinase step to deter pigment transfer. This means that instead of competing for the same position, niacinamide works alongside other ingredients. Resulting in a greater effectiveness of niacinamide in reducing the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation when combined with ingredients that inhibit different points in the pigmentation pathway.


2. Barrier repair

Topical application of niacinamide has a stabilizing effect on epidermal barrier function, seen as a reduction in transepidermal water loss and an improvement in the moisture content of the upper skin layer (horny layer).

3. UV damage

UV radiation leads to the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) which are responsible for the creation of free radicals. Free radicals can directly damage DNA, lipids and proteins, and are held responsible for the development of (skin) cancer. Vitamin B3 is an antioxidant that binds and removes harmful free radicals, resulting in a better prevention of photo-induced damage to the skin.


4. Soothing

Moreover, niacinamide also has a soothing and calming effect on the skin.

How to use or select a product.

In contrast to most ingredients used in cosmetics, niacinamide is a very stable molecule to formulate. It is highly soluble in water AND highly stable. The only consideration for selecting a vitamin B3 product is the concentration. Niacinamide is proven to be effective at a concentration as low as 2%, but most studies are conducted around 4%. It can be recommended to start at a lower concentration and increase over time. As niacinamide has a low irritating potency, higher concentrations rarely cause problems.


1. Navarrete-Solís J, Castanedo-Cázares JP, Torres-Álvarez B, et al. A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial of Niacinamide 4% versus Hydroquinone 4% in the Treatment of Melasma. Dermatol Res Pract. 2011;2011:379173. doi:10.1155/2011/379173

2. Kim B, Kim JE, Lee SM, et al. N-nicotinoyl dopamine, a novel niacinamide derivative, retains high antioxidant activity and inhibits skin pigmentation. Exp Dermatol. 2011;20(11):950–952. 

3. Lee do H, Oh IY, Koo KT, et al. Reduction in facial hyperpigmentation after treatment with a combination of topical niacinamide and tranexamic acid: a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial. Skin Res Technol. 2014;20(2):208–212.

4. Farris P., Zeichner J. et al. Efficacy and Tolerability of a Skin Brightening/Anti-Aging Cosmeceutical Containing Retinol 0.5%, Niacinamide, Hexylresorcinol, and Resveratrol. Journal for Drugs in Dermatology. 2016; 15(7);863