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The Best Niacinamide Face Serums for Unbelievably Clear, Glowing Skin

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There’s a lot of ingredient hype in the skincare world—some of it warranted, some of it not so much. But we’re here to tell you that niacinamide is the real deal. Like niacin, which is found in food sources, niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that can be found in a growing number of topical products. And from reducing hyperpigmentation and discoloration to clearing breakouts, this vitamin’s list of benefits is seemingly endless.

“Niacinamide inhibits melanin [skin pigment] production, which gives the skin a brighter appearance,” explains New York City-based dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD. The ingredient has also become popular in acne routines, with good reason. “It’s very helpful for acne, because it’s also anti-inflammatory,” explains Dr. Henry. Those anti-inflammatory properties make it tolerable for pretty much all skin types, too. “It can also be quite soothing, which makes it great for sensitive skin,” she adds.

Because niacinamide is water-soluble, it can be found in everything from cleansers to toners. But serums are a great way to get your daily dose of the skincare ingredient, as it can be both highly concentrated or act as a supporting player along with other active ingredients like hyaluronic acid. And unlike those with harsher ingredients, niacinamide products can be used daily. “Because of its soothing properties, it’s great for everyday use,” explains Dr. Henry. Ready to make the skincare ingredient as integral to your skincare routine as SPF? Read on for 10 of our favorite serums that contain niacinamide, plus why we love them.

About the Expert:

Michelle Henry, MD FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist and Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon. She is the founder of Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan, located in New York City.

1. Best for Dry Skin:

DRUNK ELEPHANT B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Serum

DRUNK ELEPHANT B-Hydra™ Intensive Hydration Serum

Not only does this beloved formula contain vitamin B3, but it also has vitamin B5, sodium hyaluronate (a cousin of hyaluronic acid), and squalane—all of which are freakin’ incredible for increasing skin’s hydration and elasticity.

2. Best for Sensitive Skin:

TULA Sensitive Skin Treatment Drops

TULA Sensitive Skin Treatment Drops
Courtesy of TULA

Just a little of this serum soothes and calms redness and irritation (see ya, rosacea), thanks to a cocktail of anti-inflammatory ingredients including oats, ginger, probiotics, and four—yes, four—types of vitamin B.

3. Best Booster Serum:

PAULA'S CHOICE 10% Niacinamide Booster

PAULA'S CHOICE 10% Niacinamide Booster
Courtesy of PAULA'S CHOICE

Mix 2-3 drops of this water-like liquid into your favorite moisturizer or hydrating serum to instantly add skin-tone-perfecting powers. Its 10% concentration is high, but when diluted with your favorite skincare products, it’s just right.

4. Best for Acne-Prone Skin:

COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum

COSRX AC Collection Blemish Spot Clearing Serum
Courtesy of COSRX

Not only is this 4% niacinamide serum effective at clearing blemishes and controlling oil production, it’s also affordable; a 40 mL bottle is under $30 (and a 10 mL travel-size is just $3!).

5. Best for Anti-Aging:

SHANI DARDEN Texture Reform™

SHANI DARDEN Texture Reform™
Courtesy of SHANI DARDEN

This serum has a little of everything—a mild retinol for fine lines, lactic acid for increased cell turnover, niacinamide for skin texture—but the formula is still gentle enough for all skin types.

6. Best for Oily Skin:

GLOSSIER Super Pure Serum

GLOSSIER Super Pure Serum
Courtesy of GLOSSIER

Technically, this cult-fave formula is great for pretty much everyone, but the lightweight formulation (and addition of pore-clearing zinc) is especially ideal for dealing with excess sebum.

7. Best for Dark Spots:

MURAD Revitalixir Recovery Serum

MURAD Revitalixir Recovery Serum
Courtesy of MURAD

The sphere-packed bottle looks high-tech, but it’s the ingredients that make this formula worth trying. In addition to yes, niacinamide, it also contains caffeine to fight puffiness, peptides to soften fine lines, and cannabis sativa oil to hydrate and maintain the skin’s barrier.

8. Best for Dullness:

DR. DENNIS GROSS B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress Rescue Super Serum

DR. DENNIS GROSS B³Adaptive SuperFoods™ Stress Rescue Super Serum
Courtesy of DR. DENNIS GROSS

Ashwagandha—an antioxidant-rich adaptogen you may have heard helps destress the system—and brightening goji berry round out this niacinamide serum’s triple threat of ingredients that protect skin cells against free radical damage.

9. Best for Blending:

SKIN INC. Vitamin B3+ Serum

SKIN INC. Vitamin B3+ Serum
Courtesy of SKIN INC.

You can use this minimal yet potent serum on its own, or mix and match it with others (vitamin C, ceramides, and collagen are just a few that the brand offers) for a layered formula that’s personalized just for your skin.

10. Best Ingredient-Conscious Formula:

HONEST BEAUTY Calm & Porefect Serum

HONEST BEAUTY Calm & Porefect Serum

Found: The perfect serum-lotion hybrid for those who want glowy skin, but prefer their products fragrance-free, cruelty-free, and excess-ingredient-free.

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About the author
Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated March 17, 2021 12:00 AM