Ingredient Files: Vitamin B3, Niacinamide

Australian Skincare

A closer look at our hero active – Niacinamide!

Intensity is the secret to any active formulation. A carefully curated selection of nutrient rich botanicals boosted with clinical doses of active cosmeceuticals. No room for fillers or benign synthetics to pad out the product. For me, it’s just value driven hard working ingredients that are compatible with our skin. This is our unwavering criteria to formulating; intensity, authenticity and transparency!


One of the clinical actives I love using in formulating is niacinamide. It hasn’t earned a reputation for being the ultimate skin perfecting ingredient for nothing; a real skin hero! If there is one thing that blows my skirt up it’s a multi-functional results driven cosmeceutical that delivers visible results. And while there is never only one ingredient that is the all elusive magic bullet (think diet… as much as kale can take us from chips to salad, we need so much more to live large) actives that target a number of skin types and deliver a chorus of broad ranging benefits are the way to make our formulations work hard. Sing it sister.

“This is our unwavering criteria to formulating; intensity, authenticity and transparency!”

Niacinamide (AKA Vitamin B3) is just what you’ve been looking for. The perfect skin partner. OK, so maybe B3 won’t hang the bathroom towel or sort your laundry, but it is one of my favourite skin transforming ingredients. Throw in popcorn and a movie and you’ll be partners for life. Let’s take a closer look.

1. The ABC’s of B3 – what is it and where does it come from?

Niacinamide is the precursor to two really important biochemical enzymes (let’s go with acronyms while I finish my almond butter) NADH and NADPH. Why so important? These enzymes shield cells from the ageing process that show up in our skin. And sadly as with most things, the levels of NADH and NADPH decline with age… sigh. But the good news is that topical doses of niacinamide helps to reduce the rate of decline to promote the big three; repair, regeneration and protection. See, there is a god! By supplying the skin with the precursor to these vital enzymes we can start to reverse the damage in the skin. Talk about essential services.

2. B3 + Me – how our skin uses it and the benefits

When we preserve the levels of NADH and NADPH (our big word Wednesday anti-ageing enzymes) we protect the skins barrier function against oxidative stress, pollutants, dehydration and inflammation while boosting collagen and emollient rich ceramides. Nice!

“By supplying the skin with the precursor to these vital enzymes we can start to reverse the damage in the skin. “

Then two main benefits of niacinamide target barrier repair and inflammation. When you think about inflammation being the precursor to all ageing, skin disorders and disease it becomes no small thing. If we can remove the inflammation from the source (bye Felicia!) the skin can begin to heal itself. Improved barrier function strengthens and protects skin. Victory! B3 also boosts the natural emollients in the skin called ceramides, responsible for a hydrated, dewy and luminous complexion. You had me at hello.

3. B-cause – why do I need it?

B3, he’s like the handsome Olympic decathlete. Awesome at everything, a real all-rounder. There’s really not very many skin types that don’t benefit from hanging out with Sir Niacinamide. Inflammation and poor barrier function are the ominous calling cards of acne. But as our environmental factors are placing more stress on skin we are finding that acne is presenting in more mature skin type, the kind of skin that also demands an anti-ageing solution. Enter niacinamide stage left, to provide the perfect combo of anti-acne benefits (oil control, reduced pores, refined skin, reduced redness) with anti-ageing gains (improved skin elasticity, boosted hydration, smoother lines and wrinkles, enhanced collagen and a reduction in pigmentation). Bingo! That’s B3. All while extinguishing inflammation and vaso constricting blood vessels to treat rosacea, redness and couperose skin.

The result is a clearer, brighter, calmer and more hydrated complexion.  That’s not an ingredient, that’s a superhero.

4. BFF’s – niacinamide hangs best with…

There aren’t many ingredients that like to go stag. Most are enthusiastic flirts. When paired with the right actives we get a synergistic boost to the benefits. Here are some of the cosmeceutical ‘Gingers’ to our B3 ‘Rodgers’.

N-acetyl glucosamine or NAG (if you’ve still got a mouth full of almond butter like me) is simply an organic amino sugar naturally found in the skin. Over time, it also depletes with age. It has many benefits including increasing hyaluronic acid to reduce dehydration, repairs barrier function, activates collagen production and skin elasticity and gently exfoliates the skin. When we pair it with niacinamide it has the added benefit of significantly reducing the appearance of pigmentation. Shut the front door! Clinical studies have shown that combining just 2% niacinamide with 4% NAG within an eight week trial showed a drastic decrease in hyperpigmentation, age spots and uneven skin tone. You’re welcome.

“It has many benefits including increasing hyaluronic acid to reduce dehydration, repairs barrier function, activates collagen production and skin elasticity”

Hyaluronic acid holds 1,000 times its weight in water which makes for the ultimate skin hydrator. Niacinamide is also water soluble and targets epidermal water loss, so pairing these two is like adding salt to caramel (what a no brainer).

More B Vitamins like panthenol (vitamin B5) also have a healing and hydrating effect of the skin and synergistically boost the benefits. We like to value add these with other hydrating botanical plant extracts like aloe vera, marine collagen, white tea and fermented papaya.

5. B-ware – what can make it tricky

There is some contention around blending Vitamin B3 with Vitamin C ( but more about that later). The thought is that when they are formulated together they form a chemical nemesis style 1:1 complex that cancels each other out. The idea is they become ineffective or worse still may cause an inflammatory reaction.

This reaction usually comes down to the application of heat during the formulation process. As with many of the Waterlily formulations no heat is applied to our more active or volatile ingredients (some say we’re hot enough). Having said that, we usually recommend to err on the side of caution. We generally prescribe products that feature Vitamin C are applied in your AM routine (remember orange juice at breakfast) as an urban shield protecting from oxidation, while our B3 serums and formulations are layered under night time treatments. Sweet dreams…

6. B-loved – how and when do I use it?

I am completely addicted to B3 in serums. Finally, the perfect love! The ultimate skin quencher to deeply hydrate thirsty skin while delivering fabulous skin perfecting benefits. These dream serums are super light and only require a small amount smoothed into the skin to receive the benefits. Best at night to work hard at replenishing and boosting benefits while you sleep. I like to layer them under a rich creamy emulsion, like the SPACEUTICALS Plasma Repair or WATERLILY Omega Crème or Vitamin Repair.

7. By the way – speaking of heroes

Here are some of my personal favourites featuring niacinamide. Who am I kidding, these are products I can’t live without. Not only do they profile clinical doses of active B3 but they are laden with a rich infusion of other cosmeceuticals, botanical concentrates, naturopathic infusions and pure aromatic essential oils. Nutritious, active and sensory… the holy trinity.

Phyto-B3 Serum – 5%

Lactic cleanser, cell therapy and Phyto-B SerumProfessional strength 5% niacinamide (Vitamin B3) formulated in a moisture-locking superfood skin serum of kale, broccoli and fermented papaya to target fine lines, uneven skin tone and redness. Boosted with milk thistle, goji berries and lime caviar to deliver the ultimate anti-ageing skin perfector.

Super Proof B3 Perfecting Serum – 15%!!!

Skin perfecting niacinamide (Vitamin B3) dispensed in clinical concentrations of N-acetyl glucosamine, a skin identical active to treat pigmentation, sun damage, fine lines and age spots to visibly brighten and lighten skin tone while boosting hydration and repairing barrier function.
Intensified with an active dose of hyaluronic acid, aloe vera, panthenol and marine collagen this quenching botanically active skin treatment is ideal for rejuvenating fine lines while treating acne, skin blemishes, congestion and sensitivity.

Activated B Eye Serum – 5%

Multi-B vitamins with n-acetyl glucosamine and hyaluronic acid to target dark circles, age spots, pigmentation and dehydration. Boosted with botanicals of green tea, coffee and ginseng to reduce puffiness while replenishing and rejuvenating tired eyes.

8. B-careful – any last words of caution?

One of the reasons this ingredient remains the star of formulating is that it can be used safely in relatively high doses with very low reaction, irritations or contraindications. This is excellent news! This makes perfect sense when you think about its main function being anti-inflammatory: soothing ingredients minimise reactions, redness and irritation.

Perfectly B-haved.

When shopping for B3 products just make sure you can see how much of the active is in the product (generally by percentage). I also recommend that the base the active is dispensed in is botanically active (i.e. functional, nutrient rich and purposeful) and is free from oh-so-lazy synthetics, including propylene glycol, mineral oil or sulphates. Watch out also for too much water and glycerine taking space where nutritious botanicals could be enriching results.

B-hold the future of beautiful skin is yours.

Let’s get glowing!

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