Here’s Why You Should Add Niacinamide to Your Routine, Stat 

The best ingredient you can’t pronounce.

By Langa Chinyoka
shanika hillocks, skincare, BIPOC, wellness

If you’re as enthusiastic about skincare as I am, you’re likely familiar with niacinamide. Even if you don’t know how to pronounce it (guilty!), you’ve definitely seen it listed in the ingredients of some of your favorite serums. Niacinamide is an impressive, versatile ingredient—no wonder it’s all the rage these days. And, in the spirit of sharing, it’s time to spill the best niacinamide serums I’ve tried, tested, and loved.

While some buzzy beauty trends lack staying power in the ever-shifting skincare world, niacinamide has been mainstream for a while. So believe what you’ve heard: once you start using it, you never go back.

I began my niacinamide journey the way many of us did: with The Ordinary’s Niacinamide and Zinc serum. It was all over my social media feeds, garnering attention for its high efficacy and low cost. I’d only just heard of the transformative ingredient, and desperate to experience the skin-saving magic myself, I stumbled into The Ordinary’s tiny storefront on Prince Street in SoHo (IYKYK) and walked out with the product that would change my skin.

Featured image by Michelle Nash.

Shanika Hillocks skincare routine_best niacinamide serums
Image by Michelle Nash

To this day, I call that my “good skin summer.” My skin soaked up the niacinamide serum and started changing before my eyes. Stubborn dark spots began to fade, my bumpy texture became silky smooth, and my breakouts vanished overnight. I couldn’t believe it. My skin was eating up this ingredient—I was here for the glowy results.

Eventually, I reached a point of diminishing returns. My skin health skyrocketed then plateaued. But I wasn’t ready to give up on niacinamide just like that. Instead, I started exploring new serums and experimenting with product combinations that would keep my skin on the same rapid incline. Introducing niacinamide was a game changer, but keeping it in my skincare routine was a challenge. That is, until I discovered the best niacinamide serums that were gentle, but effective.

Agatha Luczo skincare routine_best niacinamide serums
Image by Andrea Posadas

What is niacinamide?

Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that acts like an antioxidant. Just as your body needs antioxidants, so does your skin. They prevent and protect from free radical damage, which occurs when stressors in the environment wear away at your skin barrier. Niacin, the active ingredient in niacinamide, repairs this damage while also strengthening your skin.

What are the benefits of niacinamide?

Niacinamide’s reparative properties mean it pretty much does… everything. It protects your skin while undoing the damage caused by sun exposure, aging, and hyperpigmentation. It has anti-inflammatory properties—so you get immediate results for soothing redness and calming breakouts—while also going deep into your skin for complete renewal.

The benefits of niacinamide include:

  • Smoothing fine lines
  • Smoothing texture
  • Clearing acne
  • Stopping excessive oil production
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Fading dark spots
Samantha Wennerstrom skincare_best niacinamide serums
Image by Sara Prince

Is it okay to use niacinamide every day?

Yes! Because niacinamide strengthens your skin, you can (and should!) use it morning and night to support your overall skin health.

Niacinamide also helps fortify other ingredients, like Vitamin C and retinol. The barrier protection and skin soothing this powerhouse provides offsets the dryness and irritation of retinol. It also boosts the efficacy of other antioxidants by speeding up cell turnover.

How To Use Niacinamide Serums in Your Skincare Routine

Niacinamide serums are the most potent way to deliver a dose of this transformative ingredient. Whether you’re a beginner or a niacinamide devotee, playing around with different formulations can be exciting. When my skin gets used to one product or ingredient combo, I like to embrace a minimalist skincare routine for a while before adding back the best niacinamide serums to really see the results.

Tracy Tutor's Morning Routine-skincare in bathroom

The Best Niacinamide Serums To Add to Your Rotation

The best niacinamide serums are elegantly formulated to soak right into your skin. Lower quality niacinamide serums make my skin sensitive and reactive while pilling under other products. Choosing the right products with active ingredients is always a balancing act. But don’t stress—this roundup of the best niacinamide serums save you the headache.

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

u003cpu003eFor so many of us, this is the product that launched our niacinamide obsessions. Its simple, no-nonsense formula combines 10% niacinamide with zinc to fight blemishes and balance sebum. Beginners: start here—you won’t regret it.u003c/pu003e

Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum

u003cpu003eAnother beginner-approved niacinamide serum is this 10% formulation by Good Molecules, which keeps it simple and effective. Add this lightweight serum to your moisturizers for a painless dose of niacinamide.u003c/pu003e

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

u003cpu003eThis TikTok-approved product is a must-have from the aesthetically pleasing brand Glow Recipe. It’s an innovative niacinamide-infused highlighting serum that combines skincare and makeup in one.u003c/pu003e

Glossier Super Pure Serum

u003cpu003eSpeaking of internet-approved serums, Glossier is a go-to for every beauty essential. The Super Pure serum soothes skin by pairing 5% Niacinamide with Zinc PCA for a gentle, but effective formula.u003c/pu003e

Naturium Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2%

u003cpu003eThis concentrated formulation contains 12% niacinamide and 2% zinc PCA for a powerful burst of actives. This serum yields an even complexion and filter-like results.u003c/pu003e

Topicals Faded Serum

u003cpu003eAnyone who is looking for a niacinamide serum that fades dark spots, this is an instant cult classic. Niacinamide pairs with other powerful hyperpigmentation solutions like tranexamic acid, azelaic acid, kojic acid, and licorice root.u003c/pu003e

Paula’s Choice Clinical Niacinamide 20% Treatment

u003cpu003eFor all the niacinamide vets out there. Looking to supercharge your serum even more? This 20% niacinamide treatment will give you the dramatic results you crave.u003c/pu003e

Typology Unifying Serumn12% Niacinamide

u003cpu003eTypology is one of those brands that’s super satisfying to see on your shelf. The well-designed, minimalist packaging mirrors the well-formulated, minimalist products that take a no-frills approach to skincare. With 12% niacinamide, you’ll see results in no time.u003c/pu003e

Super Egg Tonal Scenery Reparative Serum

u003cpu003eThis serum is a staple for sensitive or damaged skin. The synergistic blend of bio desert oil and probiotics combine with niacinamide to pack your skin full of the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Glide it onto irritated skin for instant relief.u003c/pu003e

Fenty Skin Fat Water Pore-Refining Toner Serum with Niacinamide

u003cpu003eDon’t sleep on Fenty Skin! While Fenty Beauty is a makeup staple, Fenty Skin is full of gems, too. This innovative toner/serum hybrid pumps moisture into your skin while using niacinamide to brighten and soothe. All in one simple step.u003c/pu003e

ROSE Ingleton MD Calming Hydration Booster Serum

u003cpu003eSkin need soothing? This gentle serum packs a punch without causing further irritation. Protect and strengthen your skin barrier with niacinamide and other fortifying ingredients like hyaluronic acid, Caribbean sea whip extract, allantoin, and green and white tea extracts.u003c/pu003e

Versed Clarifying Serum

u003cpu003eAnother cure for inflamed skin is this drugstore favorite. Calm breakouts with this clarifying serum that soothes while soaking up excess sebum. A synergistic combination of willow bark extract, niacinamide, and zinc decongest pores while calming inflammation and balancing your breakouts.u003c/pu003e

Beauty Pie Superdrops Brightening Niacinamide 10%

u003cpu003eThis antioxidant-rich serum re-energizes your skin for an overall glow. Niacinamide works alongside Beauty Pie’s signature ingredients Evermat and Oxygeskin to smooth texture and promote optimized oxygenation for a clearer, brighter complextion.u003c/pu003e