The Best Niacinamide Serums of 2021 - The Dermatology Review

The Best Niacinamide Serums of 2021

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

03.02.21DISCLAIMER

Retinol, retinoids, vitamin C, CBD oil, glycolic acid, bakuchiol, and hyaluronic acid are just a few of the many in-demand skincare ingredients consumers and skincare professionals are clamoring over — and with good reason. They exfoliate, brighten, soften fine lines and wrinkles, refine pores, treat stubborn acne, and give the skin a serious moisture boost. But what if we were to tell you there’s another showstopper out there. One that does a little bit of everything and can be used by just about everyone.

Enter niacinamide, a specific form of vitamin B that’s incredibly effective for a multitude of skin concerns — especially when incorporated in a concentrated serum. Moisturizers have larger molecules than serums; therefore, they cannot penetrate the epidermis (skin’s surface layer) as serums do. The best of both worlds is to combine a niacinamide serum day and night along with a moisturizer to boost its effect while targeting specific skin concerns.

Ahead, everything you need to know about niacinamide, including the best niacinamide serums to try in 2021 — and beyond.

Related: Best Face Serums

The Best Niacinamide Serum is Carrot & Stick the Repair Serum
followed by Formulyst Active Serum — Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic + Niacinamide

Here are our top picks.

Best Overall: Carrot & Stick the Repair Serum, $80

Best Antioxidant-Packed: Formulyst Active Serum — Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic + Niacinamide, $80.

Best Bargain: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $6.20

Best for Discoloration: Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment, $88

Best for Oily Skin: The Inky List, Niacinamide Oil Control Serum, $6.99

Best Lightweight: Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum, $28

Best for Stressed Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, $74

Best for Rough Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Texture Reform, $88

Best Hydrating: PCA SKIN Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, $117

Best Booster Formula: Paula’s Choice 10% Resist Niacinamide Booster, $44

Best for Inflammation: Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum $89

Best Spray Formula: Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray, $19

Best Multi-Tasker: Eve Lom Advanced Brightening Serum, $150

Best for Brightening: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, $34

Best Drugstore Buy: Olay Regenerist Max Tone Serum With Vitamin C, $32.99

Best With Retinol: Osmosis Skincare Advanced Retinol Serum, $ 78

Best for Sun Damage: Biopelle Tensage Serum SCA 15, $136.00

Best for the Scalp: Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Rinse With Niacinamide, $48

Best for Blemishes: COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, $14.90

Best High Percentage: Sobel Skin Rx 15% Niacinamide Gel Serum, $75

Niacinamide Benefits

Vitamin B3, aka nicotinamide (also known as niacinamide), is an essential water-soluble vitamin that cannot be synthesized in the body. The only way to reap its benefits is to eat it, or apply it topically, which is why so many skincare companies have been jumping on the vitamin B bandwagon. So, what does niacinamide do?

Niacinamide for the skin:

  • Enhances skin’s resiliency
  • Improves texture
  • Hydrates
  • Minimizes the appearance of large pores
  • Regulates oil production
  • Enhances skin’s radiance
  • Guards against free-radical damage
  • Fades hyperpigmentation and melasma
  • Calms inflamed skin

We know what you’re thinking: Where has niacinamide been all your life? Especially considering, it’s safe for all skin types, so there is no need to worry about side effects like peeling, flakiness, or redness associated with ingredients such as retinol, retinoids, and glycolic acid.

Studies revealed that using a 5% concentration of niacinamide for 12 weeks showed a significant improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, red blotches, sallowness (yellowing), and elasticity. Additionally, niacinamide can begin to fade hyperpigmentation in as little as four weeks. With regular use, results can improve. Numerous studies came to the same conclusion, so the only thing left to do is to try niacinamide for yourself.

Related: Best Night Serums

How to Use Niacinamide

Another great feature about niacinamide is that it pairs seamlessly with most other skincare ingredients (more on that in a bit). However, there are a few things to take into consideration before incorporating it into your skincare routine.

 

Niacinamide Side Effects

There’s a slight possibility that you’ll experience minimal redness, but this is normal as your skin adjusts to the product. Simply scale back to using it every other day — or even a few times a week. In the unlikely event that your skin becomes too irritated, discontinue use and consult your dermatologist.

 

Read the Label

Also, be sure to read the label before committing to a product. You should always see niacinamide, no “nicotinic acid.” Even though the latter transforms into niacinamide, it can cause excessive redness and flushing. For a niacinamide serum to be effective, look for a formula with a percentage of 2-10%.

 

Niacinamide and vitamin C

As a word of caution, niacinamide shouldn’t be used concurrently with any product containing vitamin C because niacinamide will turn into niacin. While it’s nothing to be overly concerned with, some people with sensitive skin can experience short-term side effects such as redness and tingling. However, you can use both ingredients if they’re applied at two different times of the day, so say your C in the morning and niacinamide at night.

 

Niacinamide and Retinol

Retinol has some comparable benefits to niacinamide, but it’s more potent. When the two are used together, it can make it less challenging to use retinol. Why? Niacinamide has hydrating properties, which can help reduce any irritation associated with retinol. Of course, the two can be used separately as well.

Related: Best Retinol Serum

 

Niacinamide and Pigmentation

When it comes to pigmentation issues, acne scars, and melasma, niacinamide’s lightening effects work better in conjunction with other like-minded ingredients. Niacinamide, along with kojic acid, arbutin, or soy, helps clear discoloration faster.

The 21 Best Niacinamide Serums of 2021


Best Overall:
Carrot & Stick the Repair Serum, $80
Niacinamide is the hero ingredient in this ingredient-packed formula, which is why it tops our list. This high-performance serum is designed to visibly lift, tighten and firm as it helps defend against damaging free radicals. Hyaluronic acid and vitamin E deliver an instant boost of hydration. A blend of synthesized growth factors encourages elasticity, cell turnover, and nutrient absorption to support revitalization. Seven plant-based neuropeptides enhance the skin’s structural integrity from the inside out, promoting smoother, more resilient-looking skin. Soothing and brightening botanicals, including chamomile, licorice root, and green tea, impart an ageless glow.

Best Antioxidant-Packed: Formulyst Active Serum — Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic + Niacinamide, $80
This formulation shields your skin from environmental assaults that age your skin.
We discovered that pollution could contribute to significant aging and damage. We turned this insight into a new serum that safeguards your skin against damage. It contains a remarkable blend of Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic, and Niacinamide. One drop contains a powerful antioxidant blend of antioxidants and vitamins, with the highest concentration of pure vitamin C, B, and E, Ferulic Acid, and Niacinamide. It leaves your skin looking brighter, healthier, and more youthful.

Best Bargain: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $6.20
Niacinamide + The Ordinary equals an effective yet affordable serum the internet can’t stop talking about. It’s formulated with a potent 10% niacinamide plus zinc to balance oil production, refine pores, and prevent breakouts. Indubitably, niacinamide reduces redness associated with acne while promoting a healthy, glowing complexion.

Related: Best Vitamin C Serums

Best for Discoloration: Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment, $88
Remember how we talked about mixing niacinamide with other ingredients that promote radiance while fading discoloration? This is one of those products. Niacinamide teams up with kojic and tranexamic acids to help chase away hyperpigmentation and acne scars while improving the skin’s texture. The result is bright, clear, radiant skin.

Best for Oily Skin: The Inky List, Niacinamide Oil Control Serum, $6.99
Another affordable yet potent serum formulated with 10% niacinamide, this popular niacinamide serum from the Inky List controls oil, battles breakouts, and reduces redness — primarily associated with acne. There’s no need to worry about your skin drying out, thanks to the addition of lightweight yet ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid.

Best Lightweight: Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum, $28
This light-weight, oil-free gel-like niacinamide serum is perfect for oily skin types who desire a formula that skins into the skin. A combination of 5% niacinamide and zinc works to hydrate, refine pores and balance the complexion in approximately four weeks sans any irritation.

Best for Stressed Skin: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, $74
At some point or another, we all have stressed skin, and let’s face it, 2020 put us to the test. Along with soothing niacinamide, ashwagandha and goli fruit extracts protect against environmental stressors and damaging blue light from electronics.

Best for Rough Skin: Shani Darden Skin Care Texture Reform, $88
From acne scars to chronological (intrinsic) aging, the skin’s texture can change from soft and supple to rough in texture. That’s why celebrity facialist Shani Darden (think Jessica Alba and January Jones) created this serum for sensitive skin clients who want anti-aging benefits. Along with niacinamide, aloe vera, 7% lactic acid, and 5% retinyl palmitate (a mild retinoid) improve cell turnover rate. This action helps to reduce fine and wrinkles, acne scars, dark spots, and roughness.

Related: Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums

Best Hydrating: PCA SKIN Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, $117
This soothing serum harnesses the power of a proprietary HA-Pro Complex that encourages the skin to create its own hyaluronic acid, resulting in deeply hydrated skin. Advanced niacinamides and ceramides provide antioxidant protection while promoting a more even and balanced complexion.

Best Potent Formula: Paula’s Choice 10% Resist Niacinamide Booster, $44
This concentrated 10% niacinamide serum booster dramatically improves the appearance of fine lines, large pores, texture, and an uneven skin tone. You can use it alone, but it’s most useful when added to your moisturizer or serum to “boost” their efficiency.

Best for Inflammation: Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum $89
What’s unique about this serum is it can be used under the eyes as well. In fact, it’s encouraged because caffeine, wild indigo, and niacinamide brighten the appearance of dark circles while reducing puffiness. But don’t stop there. Cannabis and neuropeptide calm inflammation and boost hydration, so don’t skip out on the rest of your face.

Best Spray Formula: Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray, $19
There’s a first time for everything, so add this serum spray to your list. Niacinamide, Centella Asiatica, and vitamin C work together synergistically to refine pores, increase collagen production and give the skin a from-within glow. And unlike other serums, this one can even be sprayed over your makeup.

Best Multi-Tasker: Eve Lom Advanced Brightening Serum, $150
While it’s a bit on the pricey side, you’ll receive dermatological treatment results without a trip to the doctor’s office — with time, of course. Along with niacinamide, dermapep (a brightening agent that blocks melanin production), hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and a powerful tri-peptide work together to reveal a revived and clear complexion. Wrinkles and acne scars are reduced, hydration is improved, acne scars are faded, and dull, lifeless skin is revitalized.

Related: Best Hydrating Serums

Best for Brightening: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, $34
Reading the description, these best-selling Dew Drops may sound more like a cosmetic than a serum — but rest assured, it’s not formulated with any mica, glitter, or pear powder. This unique niacinamide highlighting serum can be worn in three different ways: alone as a serum, mixed into foundation for a luminous glow, or on top of makeup as an illuminator. Suitable for all skin types (even acne-prone), the serum immediately provides a luminosity and reduces hyperpigmentation over time.

Best Drugstore Buy: Olay Regenerist Max Tone Serum With Vitamin C, $32.99
You’ll find vitamin B3 in a lot of Olay products (they call it “their unicorn”) because it increases cell turnover, promotes a vibrant complexion, and deeply hydrates. Along with niacinamide, this power-packed serum is formulated with brightening vitamin C and a proprietary Skin Energizing Complex to make skin look and feel smoother and more radiant.

Best With Retinol: Osmosis Skincare Advanced Retinol Serum, $ 78
As mentioned, niacinamide and retinol are a perfect pair, as vitamin B can help negate some of the more harsh side effects of retinol. This formula contains the highest concentration of a vitamin A derivative called retinaldehyde, which stimulates collagen production and brightens an uneven skin tone. Hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and peptides work synergistically to deeply hydrate and fight the signs of aging. Over time, skin looks firmer, smoother, and more resilient.

Best for Sun Damage: Biopelle Tensage Serum SCA 15, $136.00
While wearing sunscreen is the best way to prevent sun damage, maybe you’re just now seeing the after-effects of that Mexico vacation when sun protection fell to the wayside. While severe sun damage requires a skincare professional’s help, this oil-free serum (suitable for all skin types) helps repair mild to moderate sun damage while improving mild signs of aging. It’s also great for those recovering from aesthetic procedures. Niacinamide, humectants, and brightening agents restore elasticity, tone and texture, and brightness. The addition of antioxidants protects against free radicals that can cause further damage.

Best for the Scalp: Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Rinse With Niacinamide, $48
The skin on your scalp is just as important as the skin on your face. Dead skin cells, product buildup, and excess oil can have an impact on your hair — including the growth cycle. Suitable for all hair types, this AHA/BHA-infused serum balances oil production, breaks down product buildup, and cleanses the scalp. Niacinamide promotes healthy hair growth, making way for lustrous locks.

Related: Best Anti Aging Face Serums

Best for Blemishes: COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, $14.90
Centella Asiatica, 4% niacinamide, and bee propolis work together to soothe, fade acne spots, prevent scarring, decongest pores, and moisturize, making it a must for anyone battling breakouts. It’s no wonder that it’s a K-beauty favorite.

Best High Percentage: Sobel Skin Rx 15% Niacinamide Gel Serum, $75
This gel-serum contains an impressive 15% niacinamide to firm, smooth, and minimize the appearance of large pores. Additionally, allantoin calms and soothes while Sigesbeckia Orientalis softens the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and brightening the skin’s appearance.

The Final Word

Niacinamide is an essential water-soluble vitamin that cannot be synthesized in the body. The only way to reap its benefits is to eat it, or apply it topically, which is why so many skincare companies have been jumping on the vitamin B bandwagon. Niacinamide regulates oil production, improves texture, guards against free radical damage, minimizes large pores’ appearance, fades hyperpigmentation, calms inflammation, and more.

Since vitamin B (niacinamide ) is instrumental in treating a multitude of skin concerns, it’s best when incorporated in a concentrated serum. Moisturizers have larger molecules than serums; therefore, they cannot penetrate the epidermis (skin’s surface layer) as serums do. The best of both worlds is to combine a niacinamide serum day and night along with a moisturizer to boost its effect while targeting specific skin concerns.

References:
Niacinamide: A B Vitamin that Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance,” Wiley Online Library, March 2006.
“The Effect of Niacinamide on Reducing Cutaneous Pigmentation and Suppression of Melanosome Transfer,” British Journal of Dermatology, January 2002.
“Niacinamide: A B Vitamin That Improves Aging Facial Skin Appearance,” National Library of Medicine National Center for Biotechnology Information, July 2005.

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