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How does vitamin B3 act on the skin?


Vitamin B3 (niacin) occurs either as nicotinic acid or nicotinamide. 

As a component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP, hence dehydrogenases, it is found in non-processed food (meats, cereals) and involved in the biochemical redox reactions. The vitamin is reabsorbed as nicotinic acid in the intestinal tract. In cosmetic products, the nicotinamide (INCI: Niacinamide) is used for skin recovering purposes due to its better water-solubility1). Furthermore nicotinamide shows anti-inflammatory effects on acne vulgaris comparable with Clindamycin2,3).  The penetration into the skin is improved by liposomal dispersions.


  1. H. Lautenschläger, Vitamine in der Kosmetik, medical Beauty Forum 2011;1:14-16 and 2011;2:16-18
  2. Shalita AR, Smith JG, Parish LC, Sofman MS, Chalker DK, Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris, Int J Dermatol. 1995 Jun;34(6):434-7
  3. Khodaeini E et al., Topical 4% nicotinamide vs. 1% clindamycin in moderate inflammatory acne vulgaris, Int J. Dermatol 2013;52:999-1004

Dr. Hans Lautenschläger

Please note: The contribution is based on the state of the art at the revision date.

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