17 of the Best Niacinamide Serums to Address a Multitude of Skincare Concerns

SKIN CARE REVIEWS

12.28.21DISCLAIMER

There are a multitude of skincare products with gold star ingredients that tackle fine lines, wrinkles, dryness, acne, enlarged pores, discoloration, texture, and tone — but what if we were to tell you there’s a singular ingredient that can address all of these concerns. Enter, niacinamide, a specific form of vitamin B that’s incredibly effective for a multitude of skin concerns — especially when incorporated in a concentrated niacinamide serum. 

From a retinol toner to niacinamide with retinol, there’s no shortage of niacinamide products on the market. However, serums are more concentrated and contain higher levels of key active ingredients. Most importantly, they have a smaller molecular structure than moisturizers, so they can penetrate deeper into the skin.

What are the Best Skin Care Products of 2022?

Not sure what to look for in the best niacinamide serum? No worries. Here at the Derm Review, we’ve reviewed hundreds of products with a scientific lens to ensure you’re creating a skincare regimen that’s safe and effective. Does niacinamide help with acne scars you ask? We’ve also got the answers to your most burning questions. Ahead, 17 of the best niacinamide serums to help you restore a healthier-looking complexion.

Related: Best Face Serums

Niacinamide Serum: The List

BEST OVERALL
Carrot & Stick The Repair Serum, $80

FULL LIST
Formulyst Active Serum — Vitamin B, C, E, Ferulic + Niacinamide, $80

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%, $6.20

Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment, $88

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, $74

PCA SKIN Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Serum, $117

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

Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum,$89

Neogen H2 Dermadeca Serum Spray, $19

Eve Lom Advanced Brightening Serum, $150

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops, $34

Olay Regenerist Max Tone Serum With Vitamin C, $32.99

Osmosis Skincare Advanced Retinol Serum, $ 78

Sunday Riley Clean Rinse Clarifying Scalp Rinse With Niacinamide, $48

COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum, $14.90

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Dark Spot Serum, $42

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum, $6.00

The Science Behind Niacinamide 

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 niacinamide bandwagon.

Niacinamide reduces environmental damage due to its ability to improve the skin’s barrier (its first line of defense) while also helping repair signs of past wear. This type of daily assault makes skin appear older and less radiant when not addressed.

Related: Best Vitamin C Serums

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 try niacinamide for yourself.

 

Niacinamide Benefits

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.

 

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 discoloration and sunspots
  • Calms inflamed skin

How to Choose the Best Niacinamide Serum

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 consider before incorporating it into your skincare routine.

Woman applying serum

 

Read the Label

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.

 

Choose the Correct Concentration

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 be 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 Skin Brighteners

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

 

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.

Best Niacinamide Serum: The Top 17

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 impart an ageless glow, including chamomile, licorice root, and green tea.

FULL LIST
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.

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

Related: Best Vitamin C Serums

Peter Thomas Roth PRO Strength Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment, $88
Remember how we discussed 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.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Rescue Super Serum, $74
We all have stressed skin at some point or another, and let’s face it, the pandemic 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: 

Related: Best Hyaluronic Acid Serums

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.

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 advantageous when added to your moisturizer or serum to “boost” their efficiency.

Murad Revitalixir Recovery Serum, $89
What’s unique about this serum is that it can be used under the eyes. 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Dark Spot Serum, $42
First Aid Beauty niacinamide serum follows the brand’s philosophy of creating results-driven products that don’t irritate the skin. It’s formulated to help reduce the look of dark spots, sunspots, discoloration, and post-acne marks. 

Licorice root and golden kiwifruit boost niacinamide to reveal a more uniform, healthy-looking complexion. After just four weeks, 100% of surveyed consumers reported a reduction in dark spots and a more even complexion. This clean formulation is dermatologist tested and fragrance-free. 

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum, $6.00
By working directly with labs, Good Molecules offers products that target skin issues like acne, redness, and hyperpigmentation without the traditional retail markup — much like The Ordinary. Powered by 10% niacinamide, glycerin, and betaine, this lightweight, water-based serum helps refine skin tone and texture for a brighter, healthier-looking complexion.

Best Niacinamide Serum: The Bottom Line

Overall, the Best Niacinamide Serum is Carrot & Stick’s The Repair Serum. 

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 niacinamide bandwagon.

Niacinamide reduces environmental damage due to its ability to improve the skin’s barrier (its first line of defense) while also helping repair signs of past wear. Niacinamide benefits include enhanced resiliency, hydration, improved texture, reduced pore size, protection against free radicals, reduced inflammation, and the ability to fade discoloration and sunspots. 

Another great feature about niacinamide is that it pairs seamlessly with most other skincare ingredients (more on that in a bit). When shopping for the best niacinamide serum, 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%.

What’s the best niacinamide serum, in your opinion? Let us know in the comments below!

 

FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about niacinamide serums.

Typically, vitamin C needs to be used at a low pH to be effective, whereas niacinamide works better at a higher / neutral pH level. Vitamin C inhibits tyrosinase, the enzyme responsible for melanin production that gives our skin pigment, while niacinamide blocks the pigment from transferring within our skin cells. Combining these two ingredients often delivers better results than simply using one or the other.

Carrot & Stick, Formulyst, SkinCeuticals, The Ordinary, Mad Hippie, and Obagi are a few brands we’ve reviewed that offer effective vitamin C serums.

The two ingredients have similar benefits, but retinol is much more potent. It’s also known to cause irritation, redness, and dryness. Pairing the two is a safe and effective option and can make retinol easier to tolerate. Niacinamide helps hydrate the skin, which reduces the risk of irritation caused by retinol.

On the market for a good retinol cream? We suggest Formulyst Anti-Aging Cream, Obagi Medical Retinol 1.0, SkinBetter Science AlphaRet Night Cream, Exuviance Super Retinol Concentrate, and RoC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Night Cream.

Anyone can use a niacinamide serum; however, vitamin B is ideal for anyone with oily skin and mild acne because it can calm inflammation associated with breakouts. Additionally, regular use can lead to tighter-looking pores because it reduces sebum production in the skin.
Yes — but it’s best to apply hyaluronic acid first because it can bind a high volume of water, which will keep the skin hydrated continuously throughout the day.
Niacinamide products are not a replacement for a moisturizer. As most niacinamide serums are water-based, apply them after cleansing and toning and before oil-based serums or moisturizers, sunscreen, and makeup.
While some niacinamide serums start to produce results in as little as two weeks, most will take four weeks or more to show a noticeable improvement. As with all skincare products, patience is a virtue.
While it’s not a substitute for a toner, niacinamide can help regulate sebum levels in the skin, which helps reduce clogged pores and shine.

Sources:
“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 200

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