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 Is Vitamin B the new C?

Is Vitamin B the new C?

The increasing popularity of Vitamin B has many in the skin industry asking if Vitamin B is, in fact, the new C. There are many parallels between the two so one can understand why this thought might cross our minds but, first remember that not all are created equal. Additionally, the quality of the particular vitamin chosen, other factors such as; the concentration of the vitamin in a product, the mechanism of its release out of the cream base and the manner in which it is transported to its destination to start its activity are all of importance.

Here are some of the parallel functions Vitamin B and C have:

  • These vitamin groups are used in both water and lipid soluble forms.
  • They both inhibit melanogenesis.
  • They both have a positive influence on cell regeneration
  • They both assist in wound healing
  • They both contain anti-oxidant properties.

If they are so similar, why do we need both?

Well, the two vitamin groups are similar, yet they contain different but distinct properties. It is these particular properties that hold the reasoning why they should perhaps both be included in a skin maintenance program.

In the Vitamin B group, which in recent years have enjoyed increased attention, there are are 12 individual vitamins; however, the following are the ones of focus.

Vitamin B1 Thiamine, Vitamin B2 riboflavin, Vitamin B3 Niacinimide, Vitamin B5 pahtenol, Vitamin B6 pyridoxine, Vitamin B6 pyridoxine triphalmitate, Vitamin B7 Biotin, Vitamin B9 folic acid.

Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) is probably the most widely known, research shows that in concentrations of 4% it is useful in the treatment of inflammatory acne grade 3 and up,

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), Azelaic Acid and Zinc are known to individually inhibit the enzyme 5a-reductase, which is instrumental in the treatment of non-inflammatory or inflammatory acne. When these three were added together at very low concentrations, 90% inhibition of 5a-Reductase activity was obtained.

The Vitamin B group is also useful, in wound healing, Cell formation and epithelization after skin lesions (injuries, acne), and suppresses skin itching. A deficiency in Vitamin B can lead to dermatitis and hair loss.

They also increase the production of ceramides, lipids in the outer layer of the epidermis that shield skin against moisture loss and protect it from harmful substances. Ceramides, along with other lipids like cholesterol and fatty acids, form a protective barrier against water loss, so replacing ceramides lost through the normal chronological aging process, the use of harsh cleansing products and other inappropriate skin care products helps to keep skin barrier defense intact, including protection from ultraviolet radiation.

Vitamin B is multifaceted and needed for proper functioning of almost every process that occurs in our body. It is of critical importance for metabolism, the nervous system, vital organs, eyes, muscles, skin and hair.

The Vitamin C group includes L-ascorbic acid or ascorbic acid. Ascorbyl palmitate, aminopropyl phosphate, ascorbyl glucoside, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl tetriasopalmitate, and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.

Vitamin C is a category of immense interest. It plays a vital role in the maintenance of skin health. In the olden days, sailors and others who couldn’t get fresh fruits and vegetables suffered bleeding under the skin, ulcers and joint weakness. That’s because vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is key to the production of collagen, a protein that aids in the growth of cells and blood vessels and gives skin its firmness and strength. Vitamin C also helps with wound healing and ligaments, and it helps your skin repair itself.

Some types of Vitamin C can, in fact, the irritating to skin and additionally, especially in the case of Vitamin C higher doses does not mean that that the vitamin will be well absorbed and can be discharged. The packaging, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, plays an important but underestimated role. Free vitamin C only has superficial effects on the skin or may be used in a formulation as and antioxidant. Derivatives can only achieve substantial impact on the skin in combination with penetration enhancing substances such as liposomes or nanodispersions.

Advantages of vitamin C, when combined with the penetration enhancing substances, means that the concentrations can be reduced, and hence keratolytic and pro-oxidative side effects eliminated.

Vitamin C activates the synthesis of collagen and neutralizes free radicals. These properties are what make it a desired ingredient when dealing with the treatment of scars. It is well known that Vitamin C is a tyrosinase inhibitor and reverses DNA damage caused by the harmful effects of sun damage. It is also able to strengthen the vascular wall and supportive connective tissue, beneficial in anti-ageing skin care programs.

The Vitamin A story must also be taken into account when thinking of skin health. Vitamin A works in synergy with Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E; however Vitamin E is the most abundant lipophilic antioxidant found in human skin. In humans, levels of vitamin E in the epidermis are higher than the dermis. Vitamin E first accumulates in the sebaceous glands before it is delivered to the skin surface through sebum.

Back to Vitamin A; and the benefits of it to an anti-ageing regime.                     The derivatives of vitamin A are known as retinoids (found in animal based foods) and carotenoids (found in plant-based foods). Carotenoids have to be hydrolyzed into a retinoid form for the body to utilize. Vitamin A is essential for the health of, not just your skin, in particular, the production of enzymes that build your collagen, but also your vision, your immunity and it is an important antioxidant.

Dr. Albert M. Kligman is credited as being the first dermatologist to show a link between sun exposure and wrinkles. He coined the term “photoaging” to describe skin ageing caused by the sun.
In 1967, he patented Retin-A, a vitamin A derivative known generically as tretinoin, as an acne treatment. Today it is still being prescribed as an acne treatment, but Dr. Kligman started to notice that his patients using Retin-A (brand name) presented with fewer lines and wrinkles than those who did not, and in 1986 he received a new patent for discovering the drug’s wrinkle-fighting ability.

Now, we know even more about this vitamin, its benefits and its challenges.

Redness, irritation and peeling of the skin, sometimes referred to as “retinoid dermatitis”, are often experienced. Since the vitamin receptors increase with the duration of treatment, it is recommended to start with small doses and then gradually augment the dose. With time and adjustments to the dose, these effects usually settle down.

The benefits of Vitamin A when it is applied to the skin includes wound healing, reduce wrinkles via stimulation of collagen synthesis, increasing skin smoothness, protection the skin against UV radiation, and diminishing of pigmentation.

Vitamin A is used for skin conditions including acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, wounds, burns, sunburn, keratosis follicularis (Darier’s disease), ichthyosis (non-inflammatory skin scaling), lichen planus pigmentosus, and pityriasis rubra pilaris in the medical field.

Vitamins are sensitive to atmospheric oxygen, and using it in formulations with penetration enhancing substances such as liposomes or nanodispersions are highly recommended. This not only increases the penetration of the vitamins but does so with less irritation to the skin.

With the multi-faceted benefits, these three vitamins provide you can treat an array of skin conditions from acne to aging across the generations.

It is my conclusion that a proper maintenance skin care regime with a focus on anti-ageing and all the conditions we see in the aging skin should be supported by the A, B, C of skin health.

Gone are the days where we thought Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E is the holy grail for skin. Since Vitamin E is an abundant lipophilic antioxidant in human skin, lets put Vitamin B into our mix and give our clients the full vitamin deck.

One last important note on the use of vitamins in skin care.
Due to its sensitivity to oxidation expecially when exposed to the sun it is best applied at night when your skin is in a ‘state of repair’.

Written By: René Serbon

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  1. (Barrett-Hill, Cosmetic Chemistry, 2009)
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  5.  How does vitamin C benefit skin? – HowStuffWorks. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  6.  Vitamin A: Types & Myths – BeautyMagOnline. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  7.  Sebaceous glands as transporters of vitamin E. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  8.  Sebaceous gland secretion is a major physiologic route of vitamin E delivery to skin. (n.d.). Retrieved from


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