Vitamin B is one of the three most important antioxidants (the other two being Vitamin A and Vitamin C), that can help improve the skin’s complexion by aiding natural skin functions.
What makes Vitamin B so special and unique is its soothing effect on the skin. While Vitamins A and C help promote collagen activity and regulate oil or pigment production, Vitamin B also helps to bring down inflammation that may contribute to redness and irritation.
There is a whole range of B Vitamins, but in skincare, the most important are Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) and Vitamin B5 (Panthenol).
Vitamin B3: Niacinamide
Vitamin B3, which may also be known as Niacinamide, is gentle to apply but powerful in effect. Soothing for sensitive skin, it has both protective and proactive properties for your complexion.
As a protector, Niacinamide helps to prevent oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It can also help prevent some skin damage caused by ultraviolet radiation, and prevent environmental and chemical damage that can contribute to ageing and irritation.
It also helps to restore your skin’s natural protective barrier. This helps prevent trans-epidermal water loss to keep your skin hydrated, and it provides anti-inflammatory benefits. In fact, Niacinamide is often used for atopic skin conditions, dermatitis or eczema.
As a proactive ingredient, Niacinamide can help improve the natural self-hydrating functions in your skin, and it also contributes to brightening and evening out your skin tone.
Scientifically, Niacinamide can block the PAR 2 (proteinase-activated receptors) in the melanosomes in your skin. Melanosomes are the cellular organs responsible for transferring pigmentation, and when the PAR-2 receptors are blocked, it prevents them from transferring unwanted pigment into your surface skin cells.
Niacinamide works well with other pigment inhibiting ingredients such as Symwhite, Beta White and Sepi-White because they treat pigment from different angles. Most pigment inhibitors reduce overactive pigment production in the deeper cells, but Niacinamide prevents existing unwanted pigmentation from reaching the surface of the skin where it becomes trapped and leaves uneven blotches and spots.
Vitamin B5: Panthenol
Panthenol is converted into Vitamin B5 in your skin. Though it doesn’t have as wide a range of functions as Vitamin B3, it can be just as hydrating and soothing for your skin.
As a humectant, Panthenol binds water to your skin and aids regulation of moisture levels. It also acts as an emollient, which helps seal the weak spots in your skin’s barrier and keep the water locked in.
Similar to Niacinamide, Panthenol has anti-inflammatory properties that are soothing for all skin types, but especially for sensitive skin.
How to use Vitamin B in your skincare
Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) works well in synergy with Vitamin A. It helps regulate your skin’s natural moisture levels while Vitamin A regulates oil production. It also helps soothe irritation that Vitamin A can sometimes cause when you first introduce it.
For dull, sensitive skin, Niacinamide and Panthenol work well together, especially in conjunction with Hyaluronic Acid.
Because both B Vitamins are soothing for the skin and not associated with sun sensitivity, you can use them morning or night. Apply your Vitamin B serums after cleansing and exfoliating, but before moisturiser or sunscreen.