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Niacinamide serum is trending — here are the best products on the market

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I started using niacinamide serum for oily skin, and I'm never going back

If you have oily skin, then you know the struggle. Having combination skin like mine makes things even more complicated — that's when your skin is both oily and dry. Blotting papers get rid of oil, but they remove the makeup underneath. Setting powder does the job, but makes combination and dry skin look parched and flaky.

After these failed attempts at oil control, I did some digging into the world of skin care and came across niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3. Now that I use niacinamide serum daily, oily skin is no longer an issue. In my research, I also discovered that niacinamide has a host of other skin care  benefits. It's a veritable powerhouse of an ingredient that is absolutely worth incorporating into your skin care routine. 

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What are the benefits of niacinamide?

  • Niacinamide helps regulate and minimize oiliness by inhibiting an enzyme that plays a role in sebum (oil) production.
  • Niacinamide works wonders on acne-prone skin. In addition to controlling the excess oil that contributes to blocked pores, its anti-inflammatory properties promote healing. Niacinamide also enhances skin tone and texture, minimizing the appearance of acne scars.
  • Niacinamide breaks down melanin associated with hyperpigmentation, including from sun damage, and prevents future discoloration. 
  • Niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin. It strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier and hydrates the skin.
  • Niacinamide stimulates collagen production. As you age, your body produces less collagen, causing fine lines and wrinkles to develop. By increasing collagen production, niacinamide combats signs of aging.
  • Niacinamide has antioxidant properties that protect against free radicals (unstable atoms that can damage the skin).

While niacinamide contains a plethora of benefits on its own, many serums on the market contain other ingredients that enhance its effects.

The results I got from Kiehl’s niacinamide serum

I started applying Kiehl's Ultra Pure High-Potency 5.0% Niacinamide Serum daily on my T-zone and I cannot hype the results enough. There was no oiliness in sight, all day long. You only need to apply a few drops. If you’re impatient to see skin care results, you’ll be happy to hear that the effects were immediate for oil reduction. And, my skin showed less and less oil in between applications the longer I used it. 

The 5% niacinamide serum is suitable for all skin types, with 10 clean ingredients formulated specifically for treating oiliness and redness. I did notice that it dries out the skin around my nose. This was easily fixed by applying less to that area and layering on more moisturizer. At $35, it’s not overly expensive. As with other serums, it’s best to apply it after cleansing your face and before putting on your moisturizer.

What you should consider before buying niacinamide serum

Percentage of niacinamide

Niacinamide serums contain between 1% to 20% niacinamide. Most dermatologists agree that you should start with 1% to 5% niacinamide if you have sensitive skin. This range is effective for treating oiliness. Higher concentrations of niacinamide are ideal for acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation, but these formulas can also irritate the skin.


Niacinamide serums are available at a range of price points. You can find effective budget serums for $10 to $20 or less. Midrange serums cost around $30 to $40, while high-end options can be $60 or more. Pricier serums tend to include additional beneficial ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, zinc and Vitamin E, that compound the effects of niacinamide.

Safe and ethical ingredients

Today, an increasing number of brands and users are prioritizing products that are safe for skin application and ethically produced. Clean skin care products are free of chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment, such as fragrances, formaldehyde, phthalates and parabens. Vegan and cruelty-free skin care is gaining momentum as well. These products contain no animal-derived ingredients and are free of animal testing.

More niacinamide serums to try

Budget niacinamide serums

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% Oil Control Serum 

The Ordinary niacinamide serum is among the most popular and affordable options on the market. In addition to 10% niacinamide, the formula contains 1% zinc, which reduces inflammation and helps heal acne. It’s a clean, vegan product that works with all skin types except sensitive skin.

InstaNatural Niacinamide Face Serum

This niacinamide serum offers the most value considering the volume and price. With a lower 5% niacinamide concentration, it’s good for sensitive skin. The formula features other skin-healthy ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and avocado oil, which hydrate the skin by reinforcing its moisture barrier. There’s also soothing Vitamin E, making it ideal for acne flare-ups. 

Naturium Niacinamide 12% Plus Zinc 2% Face Serum

This niacinamide serum is more potent and packs in an array of beneficial ingredients at a low price. The anti-inflammatory zinc and soothing vitamin E are great for treating breakouts. Hyaluronic acid adds healthy hydration. With a niacinamide concentration of 12%, it’s not ideal for dry or sensitive skin. 

COSRX 15% Niacinamide Face Serum 

For an even more potent formula at a budget price, this 15% niacinamide serum with zinc is the one to buy, especially if you have acne. It’s clean and free of animal testing. With the high niacinamide concentration, it’s best suited for oily and combination skin.

Midrange niacinamide serums

Glow Recipe Niacinamide Dew Drops

This niacinamide serum from Glow Recipe is trending on social media and for good reason. The gentle serum doubles as a makeup primer and is suitable for all skin types. The formula is vegan and cruelty-free. It contains 2% to 3% niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and watermelon seed extract, which hydrates, soothes and brightens the skin. All this adds up to the healthy, glowy look that gives the brand its name. 

Youth To The People Superfood Skin Drip Serum with Kale + Niacinamide

If the glowy effect is what you’re after, this more potent 5% niacinamide serum is another solid option. Dandelion root extract has a detoxifying effect and evens out skin tone, which helps treat blemishes and minimize acne scarring. Kale extract and broccoli seed oil, packed with vitamins and nutrients, support the skin barrier and give you that radiant, glowy look. It’s compatible with all skin types.

Glossier Super Pure Clarifying Face Serum with Niacinamide + Zinc

This Glossier serum is the one to buy if you have sensitive, acne-prone skin. The gentle formula contains 5% niacinamide and zinc to help acne heal faster. Plus, it’s vegan and cruelty-free. 

Paula's Choice 20% Niacinamide Vitamin B3 Concentrated Serum

This potent 20% niacinamide serum is the most concentrated formula on the list. It contains vitamin C and licorice root, which brighten the skin and fight discoloration. With the high niacinamide concentration, it’s especially great at minimizing large pores. While on the pricier end, it comes in a larger bottle, so you get more value out of it. Be careful not to over-apply, and don’t use it if you have sensitive skin.  

High-end niacinamide serums

Lancome Clarifique Pro-Solution Brightening & Dark Spot Reducing Serum

This high-end serum containing 10% niacinamide combats acne, dark spots and signs of aging. Salicylic acid and rosemary oil unclog your pores and decrease oil production for clearer skin. Sunflower seed oil strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier. Beech bud extract stimulates collagen production and supports cell renewal for younger-looking skin. It’s suitable for most skin types, apart from sensitive skin.

Summer Fridays CC Me Vitamin C + Niacinamide Serum

This anti-aging niacinamide serum contains two forms of vitamin C that brighten the skin and reduce dark spots. Ascorbyl glucoside supports collagen production for a more youthful-looking appearance. The vegan formula is suitable for normal, dry, oily and combination skin. 

Sunday Riley B3 Nice 10% Niacinamide Serum

This fast-acting Sunday Riley serum contains 10% niacinamide. Gallic acid and trans-resveratrol brighten the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots, with noticeable effects in just a few weeks. The cruelty-free formula is suitable for normal, oily and combination skin. 

Alpyn Beauty Wild Nettle & Niacinamide Instant Firming Serum

This niacinamide serum is a go-to for mature skin. Nettle extract nourishes and hydrates the skin while minimizing oil production. Rambutan firms the skin and gives it a plumper, more youthful look. The formula is cruelty-free and, with a 6% to 7% niacinamide concentration, suitable for all skin types.

Worth checking out

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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