May 24, 2017

The Skin Alphabet – Vitamin B

Written by Dr Kate Jameson

Next in the series of the Skin Alphabet is Vitamin B.

The B VItamin complex is an important class of vitamins ( Vitamin B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12) that are essential in cell metabolism. The individual functions of each of these vitamins is beyond the scope of this little blog.

The use of vitamin B in skin care is relatively new with the benefits becoming evident in a wide range of skin conditions, especially those associated with ageing. There are numerous studies which support the use of B vitamins in cosmeceutical use.

“There are two main B vitamins which are beneficial to the skin – Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and Provitamin B5 (panthenol).”

Other B complex vitamins also promote skin health and beauty by promoting healthy hair and nails. They primarily act as anti-oxidants and protect from damage caused by free radicals.

The most widely used topical preparation of Vitamin B is Vitamin B3. It has been shown to dramatically reduce the effects of ageing in human skin.


Niacinamide readily penetrates the stratum corneum of the skin and is water soluble, because of this is can improve the ability of the skin to retain moisture leading to increased hydration. It is also  extremely well tolerated and non-irritating to the skin.

Vitamin B3 has been used in treatment and prevention of a number of conditions such as photoageing, acne, rocacea and atopy (allergy).

So what are the visible effects of daily use of Vitamin B3?


Vitamin B3 improves the barrier function of the skin and thus greatly improves hydration. It does so by reducing transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and increasing the protective lipids (fats) in the skin barrier. The skin then becomes more resilient and resistant to damage from irritating substances. As a result the skin appears more hydrated with less irritation, flushing and blotchiness.


Longer term use of topical Niacinamide can also reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation such as sun spots and melasma by interrupting the production of melanin by melanocytes. Unfortunately the production of melanin will continue if the topical use of Vitamin B3 is stopped.


A common complaint with many is pore size and often poor skin texture is due to this factor. The use of Vitamin B3 can greatly improve skin texture with long term use and reduce the appearance of pores.


Vitamin B3 can also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. The exact mechanism is unknown but the long term use of Vitamin B3 is thought to increase the production of collages and decrease levels of glycosaminoglycan (GAG) production in the top layers of the skin.


Vitamin B5 primarily acts to control the lipid levels in the skin, improving the protective skin barrier. Its main clinical use is in wound healing.


Panthenol is used widely to treat bruises, scars, wounds, burns and used pre-and post operatively. Despite being widely used medically its exact mechanism of action in healing is unknown. Panthenol increased skin lipid production which results in an improved skin barrier which in turn helps with wound healing.

Because of the improvement in the barrier of the skin, panthenol is very well tolerated and aids in hydrating the skin. It is also helpful in reducing redness, roughness and has anti-inflammatory and skin soothing effects

It’s main clinical use is with wound healing and when combined with other topical vitamins such as vitamin C it is even more effective.


Vitamin B can be used every day, both morning and night. As is is very non-irritating there is no limit to its use in daily skin care. Using both morning and night will help with hydration and also to help minimise any irritation from other active ingredients, such as vitamin A (retinoids). The use of vitamin B with other products will not affect the efficacy of either product.

I hope this little blog helps to further inform you about the ingredients in your skin care regime. Before embarking on any skin care journey it is really important to discuss your concerns with your cosmetic doctor, dermatologist or dermal therapist to ensure the correct ingredients are included to target your specific concerns.

Yours in skin health, love Dr Kate

(miss the first part to this series? see it here, The Skin Alphabet – Vitamin A)