Home Cosmetic Science Talk Formulating Niacinamide question

  • Niacinamide question

    Posted by Cinema on February 14, 2022 at 11:49 pm

    Oh wise formulator, quick questions regarding niacinamide- so this being an amide is clearly on the alkaline side and instructions clearly say best at pH 5.5 or above. Its reactions with vitamin C are well known for the same reason ( acid alkali reaction and bam- nicotininc acid !!!)
    My question to you is two pronged:-
    What has been the optimal pH you all have strived while using niacinamide- given the fact that most of the other ingredients in skin care are usually acidic and not to mention- absorption is best at pH closest to skin- again acidic.
    Second , some supplier- say that they supply niacinamide PC ( not USP) which has minimal nicotinic acid hence less irritative and then you are not bound by the ph as much- but of course, this one is way more expensive- is it worth it ? any benefits of niacinamide PC over USP- in your opinion

    thanks in advance to all. Tagging some of the smart that come to my mind

    Pharma replied 2 years, 3 months ago 5 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • MarkBroussard

    February 14, 2022 at 11:58 pm


    Niacinamide PC (Personal Care grade) or USP are interchangeable.  Use the one that is least expensive.  As for pH, best at 4.5 - 5.0.

    The interaction with Vitamin C … yeah, that really is a minor concern as you will not reach the required activation energy in a cosmetic product to trigger that reaction.  You may get some minor conversion over time.  But, for marketing purposes, just avoid combining the two in the same product.

  • Cinema

    February 15, 2022 at 1:16 am

    thanks @MarkBroussard, it was very informative and answered with precision.

  • Graillotion

    February 15, 2022 at 5:24 am

    I use Niacinamide in formulas one formula that is 4.4 and several that are 4.8.  Of course, it works fine there..)  As Mark said…use the cheap one. :) 

    All these re-packer sites that have that higher pH thingy…was just mommy bloggers reading technical papers, and not understanding the results (like using a strong acid….and the fact that cosmetics are typically not stored at high heat, or kept for 1,000 days…etc.)  Just grin….next time you read that.

    A quote from Lab Muffin:

     Vitamin C is compatible with most things. The only true incompatibilities I can think of are copper ions (e.g. any of those blue copper products) and benzoyl peroxide – both of these will inactivate ascorbic acid.

    It’s a myth that you can’t use niacinamide with ascorbic acid (Kind of Stephen has debunked this thoroughly on his blog).

  • grapefruit22

    February 15, 2022 at 10:10 am

    What are your thoughts on the niacin content? It can vary from 100 to 1000 ppm, depending on “purity” grade. The lower content of niacin is to reduce the feeling of heat after the application (according to manufacturer). In fact, there are users who report such a side effect. This is not a common situation, but it does happen.

  • Pharma

    February 15, 2022 at 11:29 am
    Heating sensation is usually not caused by niacinamide but by nicotinic acid present as contaminant. However, good quality niacinamide should not contain more than traces thereof.
    Content may be much higher than those 0.01-0.1% 😉 . I doubt that as little would do anything other than making your LOI longer and boosting marketing claims. ‘Scientific’ publications (cosmetic science articles are often borderline between scam, marketing, and a desperate attempt at justifying claimed benefits of a sponsored ingredient) I’ve found which show benefits in partially controlled setups use something in the range of 1-5%.
  • Cinema

    February 15, 2022 at 12:10 pm

    @pharma @Graillotion- makes me feel re assured- thanks again for your pearls of wisdom:-)

  • grapefruit22

    February 15, 2022 at 1:43 pm

    What is the maximum niacin content you have encountered? I wonder how much niacin in topical application can cause heating sensation. If only traces are present, and those traces are sufficient to cause “heating sensation” in some cases, then maybe reducing them 10 times (or more) could be beneficial?

  • Pharma

    February 15, 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Traces aren’t enough to cause any issues at any inclusion rate or I wouldn’t use the word traces 😉 .

  • grapefruit22

    February 15, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    But what exactly amount of niacin can be considered as “traces”? When niacinamide can be described as a good quality product? I wonder if this has ever been checked given the product’s ph, changes over time, and the amount of niacinamide in the product. Since people experience side effects from topical application, does it mean that their niacinamide was extremely highly contaminated, or maybe even small difference in the amount of niacin can make a difference? It seems more logical to me that if niacinamide contains trace amounts of niacin and causes side effects anyway, it seems safer to use niacinamide with as little niacin content as possible, as apparently even small amounts have an impact.

  • Pharma

    February 17, 2022 at 5:41 am

    I heard stories that, back in the day, niacinamide (also food & pharma quality) came with up to 10% nicotinic acid. Nowadays, you can expect less than 0.1% total contaminants. The sensation nicotinic acid can produce is well known and not allergic in nature. Weird enough, some people get the effect easier, others only at really elevated levels.

Log in to reply.