Can Vitamin B3 really be that good for your skin?
You’ve probably already heard about the health benefits from eating foods packed with Vitamin B3 such as several well known fish (tuna and salmon), but what about the health benefits of applying Vitamin B3 on your skin (scientific name - niacinamide)?
When evaluating the effectiveness of a cosmetic ingredient, the Kligman Test is the highest benchmark to follow. What is the Kligman test? Great question. Really glad you asked.
In short, the Kligman test consists of the following three questions that if answered sufficiently, means the ingredient is legit for skincare:
- Can the active ingredient (Vitamin B3 in our case) penetrate the skin?
- Does the active ingredient actually influence a relevant target in the skin?
- Are there published clinical trials substantiating efficacy?
Okay, Kligman, game on.
Question #1, does Vitamin B3 penetrate the skin? Short answer, yes! There have been multiple studies showing an increase in the coenzyme NAD after Vitamin B3 application, which means vitamin B3 penetrates. Boom!
*As an aside, be weary of skincare ingredients such as collagen (most commonly marketed and useless topical protein), long sugars, peptides, and other large molecules. They typically do not pass through the outer most layer of the skin, so you are pretty much just splashing expensive water or cream on your face.
Bring it, Kligman, question #2.
Now that we know Vitamin B3 sneaks through the outer layers of the skin, does it reach a relevant target in the skin?
Actually, Vitamin B3 works on quite a number of skin mechanisms. It is a known powerful antioxidant and has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis along with the structural proteins keratin, fillagrin, and involucrin. This would point to Vitamin B3’s ability to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
In addition, Vitamin B3 stimulates the production of ceramides, lipids that help regulate epidermal barrier function. And guess what, improved barrier function may reduce irritation and redness of the skin when exposed to environmental factors such as pollutants.
But wait, there’s more!
Looking for ways to smooth out the complexion of your skin? Evidence has shown that Vitamin B3 blocks the transfer of melanosomes (carrying the skin coloring pigment melanin) and was effective when placed in a head-to-head study against hydroquinone (the controversial and irritating ingredient banned in several countries). Chalk one more up to Vitamin B3.
Let’s bring this home, Kligman.
For your final question, the short answer is that in multiple clinical trials, Vitamin B3 was shown to have clinically meaningful and statistically significant improvements to skin function. Even more, a study published in the world’s premier medical publication, the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that Vitamin B3 reduces the rate of skin cancer!
This is all to say, Vitamin B3 is a power ingredient that is incredibly effective against redness, hyperpigmentation, and as a general anti-aging molecule. Look for this Vitamin in skincare lines and work them into your daily routine.