This ingredient can help tighten pores, fight signs of aging, lighten dark spots, even control acne. Need more convincing? Here's why you might want to try a niacinamide serum on your skin, plus the best ones on the market right now.
Although it might not be as buzzy as retinol creams or vitamin C serums, niacinamide is one skincare ingredient you're probably not using yet but should definitely incorporate into your routine. "If you're looking for an all-purpose ingredient, look no further," says Ava Shamban, MD, a dermatologst based in Beverly Hills and founder of SKINxFIVE. "It can work on so many levels of the skin and improve so many conditions."
Niacinamide—also known as vitamin B3—boasts a long list of perks. It's a potent antioxidant, says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist, explaining that serums and creams which contain this powerful ingredient can make a big difference in your complexion. "It helps even skin tone and improve the appearance of enlarged pores and dullness," she tells Health.
"When applied on the skin, niacinamide can increase natural lipids while decreasing water loss," says William Kwan, MD, an ethnic skincare expert and dermatologist based in San Francisco. He adds that niacinamide may also be anti-inflammatory, and therefore beneficial for those with acne and rosacea. Even better, it fights signs of aging, can lighten the appearance of melasma and dark spots, and works as an effective anti-aging ingredient, says Dr. Shamban. "And all of the above without irritating the skin."
One important thing to note: Niacinamide shouldn't be used simultaneously with skincare products that contain vitamin C. "Niacinamide turns into niacin when mixed with vitamin C," explains Dr. Jaliman. "Although not harmful, niacin is a substance that can cause short-term effects such as skin redness and tingling in people with sensitive skin." As long as you apply the two formulas at different times, though (such as vitamin C serum in the morning and niacinamide serum at night), you don't need to worry, she adds.
This multitasking ingredient is found in a variety of skincare products, including serums, creams, and masks. Here, our favorite niacinamide products to add to your routine, STAT.
SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3
Dr. Kwan recommends this pricey (but worth every penny) formula from SkinCeuticals, which is a great choice for anyone with environmental damage. In addition to 5% niacinamide, it contains peptides and glycerin to firm skin and ease the appearance of deep wrinkles and fine lines.
InstaNatural Niacinamide 5% Face Serum
Don't let the price point fool you. This budget-friendly serum works wonders to soothe, firm, and replenish skin, says Dr. Jaliman. "Besides niacinamide, it has other beneficial ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, rosemary extract, and aloe."
Paula's Choice RESIST 10% Niacinamide Booster
Call it a team player: This treatment is designed to help the other serums and creams in your medicine cabinet work more effectively. Packed with a whopping 10% niacinamide, it tightens pores and helps improve the appearance of skin over time.
Allies of Skin Promise Keeper Blemish Facial
This supercharged mask contains niacinamide, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), enzymes, and probiotics to reduce inflammation, brighten dark spots, and fight breakouts. Also good: It's hypallergenic and free of silicones, parabens, sulfates, and synthetic dyes.
Nia 24 Skin Strengthening Complex
This moisturizer is another of Dr. Kwan's favorites. The formula fights signs of aging and leaves skin seriously soft and clear thanks to niacinamide (to brighten dark spots), aloe vera (to soothe), hyaluronic acid (to moisturize), and primroise oil (to improve elasticity).
Murad Rapid Age Spot Correcting Serum
Murad's NHP-3 technology includes niacinamide, hexylresorcinol, and plankton extract to encourage cell turnover and reduce the look of dark spots and pigmentation. The formula also boasts light-reflecting pearls that give it an instantly brighter, more radiant appearance.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%
This budget-friendly serum (yes, you read that right—it's really just $6) gets the job done with an impressive 10% niacinamide, plus 1% zinc to manage sebum activity and prevent breakouts.
Biossance Squalane + Peptide Eye Gel
Want to harness the effects of niacinamide in your under eye area? This eye gel from Biossance contains niacinamide as well as plant-derived squalane and swiss apple stem cell extract to prevent moisture loss and brighten the delicate skin under your eyes.