The 5 Best Niacinamide Serums

By Marissa DeSantis
Bustle/Amazon

On the list of It ingredients to add to your routine, niacinamide is steadily gaining popularity. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide's long list of benefits include increasing skin-cell turnover and reducing pigmentation without causing irritation. Not only does this mean it's compatible with more sensitive skin types, but the best niacinamide serums can actually help calm signs of inflammation while improving your skin's hydration levels; basically, this magical stuff does it all.

While niacinamide can help with all of the above, to make sure you're getting the full benefits, look for a higher concentration (10 percent is the highest you'll find in topical formulas). Depending on your skin concerns, you'll also want to look for a niacinamide serum that's paired with other active ingredients. For acne-prone skin, studies have shown that even concentrations of niacinamide as low as 2 percent can help with oil production and inflammation. To help with more moderate acne, you can look for a serum that includes other gentle acne-fighters such as centella asiatica, which has long been used in traditional medicine to calm inflammation and speed up the healing process of blemishes.

For skin that's on the combination or dry side, niacinamide can help restore moisture and improve your skin's barrier function. But you'll also want to be on the lookout for other hydrating ingredients (such as hyaluronic acid) to attract even more moisture, which niacinamide then helps lock in.

If it's plumper skin and more even-looking texture you're after, once again, a higher concentration of niacinamide can help boost collagen production and fade hyperpigmentation and other signs of damage. You can give the ingredient a boost by choosing a serum that contains antioxidant-rich ingredients like vitamin C to further brighten or peptides to improve firmness.

To find your match, here are five of the best niacinamide serums on the market now.

1. The Cult-Favorite

For a serum that's formulated with a high concentration of niacinamide yet still affordable, The Ordinary's Niacinamide 10% serum is a beauty insider go-to. In addition to a 10 percent concentration of niacinamide, The Ordinary also included 1 percent zinc, which has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm redness and irritation (such as inflammation from acne). Even though the serum is budget-friendly, it doesn't compromise on quality, thanks to a formula that's alcohol-free, oil-free, silicone-free, and cruelty-free.

Amazon users are also discovering how effective the serum is when it comes to treating everything from discoloration to pore size and even acne. "This is truly a miracle product," wrote one reviewer. "As a woman in her 40s who has struggled with hormonal acne for 25+ years, large pores and skin texture issues… Literally within a couple of days there was a drastic difference. I spent $1400 on laser treatments that didn’t work as well as this did in just a few days."

2. The Best Drugstore Niacinamide Serum

If you're looking for another inexpensive option, Olay's Regenerist Regenerating Serum is a solid drugstore pick. In addition to niacinamide, Olay included moisturizing ingredients dimethicone and glycerin in the formula, as well as soothing allantoin and green tea extract. Plus, the brand added its own amino-peptide complex to help improve skin's firmness within four weeks of use.

The multitasking serum currently has more than 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, with fans raving about its non-greasy moisturizing abilities and ability to clear up congested pores. "This product lives up to its claims," commented one reviewer. "My oily t-zone no longer has breakouts ... My pores are visibly smaller giving my skin a firmer look and I don't get pimples anymore. My drier cheek area feels nicely moisturized."

Another fan of the serum wrote, "I love that it leaves no film or sticky feeling.... you can't even tell there's anything on your skin once it sinks in."

3. The Best Niacinamide Serum For Acne-Prone Skin

If you've been dealing with breakouts, the COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum might be just what you need. The K-beauty serum uses 4 percent niacinamide to help fade acne spots, and it also includes centella asiatica for more skin-soothing, acne-fighting power. Centella asiatica is widely used in Korean skin care for its ability to heal wounds, calm inflammation, and prevent scarring, and, in this serum, it has been developed into its own unique complex to optimize its efficacy.

The formula contains another Korean beauty favorite — propolis — a resin-like substance that's made by bees to help build their hives. Propolis has gained popularity as an effective acne-fighter because of its natural antibacterial properties and its ability to soothe and moisturize skin without congesting pores.

"I can see my dark spots have been fading and my skin looks healthier," commented one reviewer, who also reported fewer breakouts since they started using this product. Another Amazon user commented, "My favorite thing about this serum is that it is soothing! And it really does help with redness ... [and] I have found that it actually does help to heal."

4. The Best Niacinamide Booster

While niacinamide helps with any type of inflammation, if your skin is particularly picky, the Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster includes several other skin-soothing ingredients. Allantoin, beta-glucan, and licorice root extract work to heal and protect skin from damage caused by environmental stressors while also leaving it moisturized and smooth.

It's important to note that this serum does contain vitamin C for more brightening, skin-evening, and protecting powers, so if you have rosacea, be mindful that this could cause irritation. For every other skin type, this water-like serum promises to work quickly to improve skin texture, tone, and hydration levels thanks to its high concentration of niacinamide and other antioxidant-rich ingredients. Plus, the cool thing about this product is that it's technically a "booster," which means you can add a few drops to your favorite moisturizer (to give it a boost) or use it on its own.

"Within a week, my skin looked significantly healthier, smoother, and brighter ... But most importantly, my acne scars were finally fading!" commented one reviewer. "One month later, I could confidently walk out of the house without foundation. I haven't done that in years ... Please try this. It will change your skin!"

5. The Best Splurge

SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3 is a lightweight moisturizing cream that makes skin look smoother, brighter, and more even using three key ingredients. 5 percent niacinamide helps reduce discoloration and blotchiness while also strengthening the skin's barrier to protect it from future signs of damage, while SkinCeuticals's own firming tri-peptide concentrate works to keep skin firm and plump. To moisturize even the the driest of skin, 15 percent pure glycerin was added to the formula to attract moisture, while dimethicone helps lock it in. The lotion has a gorgeous water-gel texture that makes skin look smooth and feel soft, and since it's not at all heavy or greasy, oily skin types can enjoy it, too.

SkinCeuticals is a medical-grade brand favored by dermatologists and estheticians, so you know you're getting your money's worth with this product — plus, a little goes a long way. "If you struggle with post inflammatory hyper pigmentation this will change your life," wrote one reviewer. While another reported, "Even though this cream is expensive, it leaves your skin feeling like SILK."

Another Amazon user described, "It's like a gel cream type formula, insanely soothing. Really reduces redness!!! Never breaks me out. Works well even with oily skin. And makes my skin have a glow to it ... Definitely makes makeup go on better as well. This is a holy grail product for me."

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