Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)

What is it? Niacinamide is “an amide derivative of nicotinic acid“, also known as Vitamin B3.
INCI Niacinamide
Appearance White powder
Usage rate 1–6%, though I’ve seen higher concentrations in store bought products
Scent Nothing much
Solubility Water
Why do we use it in formulations? Niacinamide is a fantastic skin care active! It helps down regulate sebum production, reduce inflammation, decrease acne lesions, increase the synthesis of ceramides, reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), reduce fine lines, fade age spots and hyperpigmentation, and brighten the complexion.
Do you need it? No
Strengths Highly effective, well-researched skin care active with many benefits.
Weaknesses While it is usually well tolerated, it can be irritating to some. It can also be problematic in very acidic formulations as it can break down into niacin, causing flushing and irritation.
Alternatives & Substitutions Nothing is a complete substitution. Panthenol (vitamin B5) plays some of the same roles and can be a decent alternative. You could also try choosing a botanical extract that has comparable properties depending on what you are trying to achieve. A humectant or hydrolyzed protein could also be a decent choice.
How to Work with It Include it in the water phase of recipes. I’ve found varying recommendations for the final pH of the product; it’s typically around 6, but Amanda at Realize Beauty and Stephen at Kind Stephen have articles on on how and why a lower final pH is also likely to be ok.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, niacinamide should be shelf stable for up to three years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks If you want to try niacinamide in your skin care routine before investing in the raw ingredient I would highly recommend The Ordinary’s 10% Niacinamide + 1% Zinc formulation. It has absolutely revolutionized my skin and it’s under $6!
Recommended starter amount 10–30g (0.35–1oz)
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier.

Some Formulations that Use Niacinamide


Posted on

December 13, 2018