Monday, March 7, 2011

Cosmeceuticals: Niacinamide

Niacinamide (aka Vitamin B3 or nicotinic acid) is an absolutely fascinating cosmeceutical and one that has a lot of science to back up the claims! It's a water soluble vitamin that can be found as a powder we add to the heated water phase of our products. So what can this amazing vitamin do?

The claims for niacinamide are pretty substantial and they are backed up by studies and good science. Studies have shown that 2% in a facial moisturizer can increase skin's keratin, ceramides, and barrier lipids which results in a reduction of transepidermal water loss and an increase in collagen synthesis. 2% can result in a 23% reduction in sebum production and pore diameter. It can reduce hyperpigmentation of age and sun spots. And it can reduce the damage from environmental causes, which reduces the irritation, inflammation, and skin redness from things like the sun, cold, or weather as well as application of straight SLS.  Even at 5%, there's a lack of irritation and redness on our faces ('cause sometimes niacin can make our skin flush, but not at 2% or 5%). It can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and decreases skin blotchiness and "pebbling" or roughness on facial skin. All of these great things can happen in a short period of time. In one study, all of these results were seen within 12 days (the first time they checked, so it could have been a shorter period of time) and continued to work with application of the moisturizer daily.

This seems like a great inclusion for just about every skin type from wrinkled to oily to normal!

Take a look at this article on the awesome power of niacinamide! It's even more amazing than you think!

I've found this ingredient in a few locations - at Lotioncrafter and - and it's not that expensive considering the suggested usage is 1% to 6% (check with your supplier for their specific recommendations) As the studies I've quoted above used 2% in their products, it seems that this is a good amount for our products!

Please note, listing these links does not constitute an endorsement of these suppliers. If you know of any others, please link in the comments section. I will be reviewing every link to ensure they are true recommendations for a supplier and not an advertisement for one.


Katherine said...

The Herbarie has it.

I've thought about ordering it, but I didn't because of this comment on their website:

"To avoid the hydrolysis of Niacinamide to nicotinic acid, we recommend the pH of the finished formulation be in the range of 5.0 to 7.0. The hydrolysis of Niacinamide to nicotinic acid can result in skin flushing, redness and burning. Please note that Niacinamide added to pure distilled water will have the desired pH of 6.0-7.0. "

The only lotions I have checked the ph on are ones that contained AHAs & BHAs. The ph on them has been between 3.5 & 4. I don't know if that's because of the addition of the AHA or BHA.

Any thoughts on that?

Amy Lynn said...

Here's another:

BTW - I am a new follower of yours and I am absolutely in heaven that I found your site! It is truly amazing and I have learned more here in a couple of weeks than I could have imagined possible. I can't thank you enough for all the effort you put into sharing all this wonderful wisdom. You have completely captured my heart and mind! :)

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Katherine. Thanks for the information. Those lotions are probably low because of the AHAs, which will lower pH and work best at around 3.5 to 4. If you test a normal lotion, it should come out about 5.5 to 6 or so because most of our ingredients don't have a pH (like our oils and butters).

Hi Amy! Thanks for your kind words. I'm blushing!

Carol said...

Hi, Xenex labs in Coquitlam has Niacinamide. I've also purchased Allantoin,Ylang Ylang, Rose Hip oil, Argan oil,Sweet Almond oil and Lactic Acid

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Carol! Thanks for the information! I've browsed their site before and they have some great stuff! They sell to the general public?

Link: Xenex Labs

Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Green said...

Hi Susan, I also LOVE your blog, I visited it many times in the past to learn new things, but I was too shy to place my post. I am doing it now, hoping you will find a moment to reply.
Since I live in Canada I would rather avoid additional cost of ordering Niacinamide from suppliers you mentioned. Can't I just buy vit. B3 in the drugstore or health food store and dissolve it in the disstilled water?

Anonymous said...

Hi, just reading about vitamin B3 here, and I'm wondering about Katherine's comment. Wouldn't a basic pH hydrolyze niacinamide, as a hydrolysis reaction requires a base, doesn't it? Would it maybe oxidize the niacinamide? Thanks for helping me twist my brain around this, Jodie

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Jodie. I'm not sure what you mean by using a basic solution? We wouldn't be using a solution with a pH of 6 or lower, meaning it would be acidic. Sorry if I'm not getting what you're asking...

Tom Busby said...

In the past I had not used niacinamide because of the Herbarie's information, but I think that's wrong, as this link shows that the correct pH is 3.0 to 7.5:
I'm only 3 weeks into trying a 2% niacinamide lotion and it is in fact rapidly fading my tinea versicolor hyperpigmentation spots (aka giraffe spots). I tried a test batch at 2.5% niacinamide and in my opinion it made the lotion feel too waxy, but it's still useable. I think 1.5% to 2% for the concentration is probably just right. My lotion has a pH of 5.2. Keep up the good work Susan!

Tom Busby said...

In the past I had not used niacinamide because of the Herbarie's information, but I think that's wrong, as this link shows that the correct pH is 3.0 to 7.5:
I'm only 3 weeks into trying a 2% niacinamide lotion and it is in fact rapidly fading my tinea versicolor hyperpigmentation spots (aka giraffe spots). I tried a test batch at 2.5% niacinamide and in my opinion it made the lotion feel too waxy, but it's still useable. I think 1.5% to 2% for the concentration is probably just right. Keep up the good work Susan!

MK said...

Hi Susan, I've been thinking about Niacinimide a lot lately, so thank you for posting!
I'm a huge fan of Allantoin at 0.5% in my lotions.
Would it be redundant to use them both?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi MK. I think allantoin and niacinamide would be a winning combination!

Crazy cavy lady's DIY blogg said...

Hi, am I the only one that has noticed that niacinamide has a horrible smell? It really stings my nose. And it still smells in my products when I am using it in 2 %.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Crazy Cavy Lady. Sorry, I haven't noticed it. But then again, I didn't notice the fishy smell of Incroquat BTMS-50 until a few years ago!

Miss J said...

Hello Susan,I must say your site is an amazing tool.I am so grateful for all the research you do and the information you share.Thank you so much.With regards to Niacinamide I'll need your help with two questions I am formulating my lotion and I use hydrosol and aloe Vera instead of distilled water is it okay to use it with this base and another question is can I use niacinamide with fruit extracts like papaya,pineapple or even the phytofruit mix?I have read articles which state Niacinamide interacts with Vit C and cancels it out.I am not sure how this would react to this extracts considering they have fruit acids.Ill very much appreciate your response.Thank you,Jane

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi MIss J. To what base are you referring? A lotion base? If that's the case, I don't know what will work with a base as I need to know the ingredients to make that suggestion.

You aren't using the fruit extracts for the Vitamin C as Vitamin C isn't stable in water and will be gone when you dissolve it any way. Nothing you're using here will offer Vitamin C, so there's no conflict with niacinamide. To get Vitamin C in a product, you need to use a special version that won't oxidize quickly.

Check out the posts I've written about these various extracts in the extracts section of the blog. Please don't use Phytofruit with other exfoliating extracts, like the ones you list. That's just too much exfoliation! Choose one or the other, but not all! This could be really harmful to your face.

And water is important. Don't go over 10% aloe vera in a product or you may destabilize it. I suggest 10% hydrosol and 10% aloe vera when you're making a product because the electrolytes can mess things up really badly. And use the rest in water! Water isn't just a filler - it's a lovely ingredient for our skin!

Miss J said...

Thank you so much Susan,thank you for replying to my question I really appreciate it.I am making a lotion using Rose hydrosol,aloe Vera,rosehip oil and pumpkin oil(acne prone skin)I would add niacinamide,Panthenol,papaya and pineapple extract.I was worried the fruit acid might react with the niacinamide but you have clarified me.Thank you so much!I appreciate how generous you are with your knowledge.Gracias Miss J

Ann Whitaker said...

Hi Susan,

I'm noticing this ingredient a lot in hair conditioner lately and wondered what the benefit would be to hair? Would a niacinamide and allantoin combo work in a conditioner?

I love the blog and use it regularly.

Many thanks,


Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Miss J! Where's the emulsifier in that recipe? What are you using to bring the oil and water together? Are you using a preservative with all those botanicals?

Hi Ann! I don't know. Maybe for the scalp? I took another look at niacinamide in this post and I'm still not sure why! Sorry I can't be more helpful!

gail said...

Hi Susan, I just purchased a bit of niacinamide liposome. Is it actually more effective than the powder?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Gail. I can't see why it would be more effective. Where did you get it and what did they say made it more effective than the water soluble powder?

Unknown said...

Hello Susan,
As always, I love the information that you provide on your blog. I also love the results I have been getting with niacinamide. I put it in lotions and also made a facial serum with it. I know you are not a fan of the optiphen family and I understand why because it is annoying me as well. Unfortunately the people I am selling to do not want parabens thanks to all the bad press. I used Optiphen ND in my facial serum and it is turning it yellow. It seems to be reducing the pH as well so I am concerned about the niacinamide converting to niacin. Maybe my question should be under a Leucidal post because now I am wondering if that would work. I don't care if it is slightly yellow as it sounds it would be with Leucidal but the information on that preservative says it works by acidifying the environment. Do you think it would reduce the pH enough that I would have to be concerned about niacinamide conversion? I am using a pH meter to make sure I am in a good starting range. The serum is:
74.5% water
10% aloe
5% propylene glycol
3% niacinamide
4% panthenol
2% oat protein
.75% optiphen ND
.75% hyaluronic acid

Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated.

Gail said...

Hi Susan, I got it at FSS. They call it the FSS Vitamin B3 Liposome preserved Naturally with Leucidal Liquid. They give an example by saying
some molecules are unable to effectively penetrate the stratum corneum; for example, actives such as collagen and elastinare too large to permeate efficiently. However, with the liposome as a vehicle we can release these active molecules through several layers of epidermis, but without diffusing too deeply.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Craig! All the questions you are asking can't really be answered by theory. You will have to try these things out and see what happens. That HA you're including - is that 0.75% of pure hyaluronic acid or 0.75% of a 1% solution or something similar. That's a lot of HA!

Hi Gail! Interesting! I still really don't know because I've never looked into the liposome version, but I guess the real question is do we want it to penetrate the stratum corneum? Does it do more by doing this or is it pointless? I really don't know the answer, but it's going on the to-do list to research!

I've written another post on niacinamide. Check it out here!

jerem said...

Hi, regarding the niacinamide encapsulated in liposome, the company Bicosome ( is selling a system called BicoMide that provides a double encapsulation of Niacinamide and allows to really penetrate inside the skin,

jerem said...

For Niacinamide encapsulated in Liposome, you can check the new product of Bicosome called BicoMide that allows a real penetration into the skin and double encpasulation.

El said...

Hi, I'm making creams of oils and butters. Is there a way to incorporate niacinamide into my recipe? Thanks for your article; i learn a lot.