Niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3) is by no means a new or innovative skincare ingredient, but it is definitely a crowd-favourite at the moment. My theory is that we all love it because it works across so many different skin types and complexion concerns – and unlike acids and retinols, it’s pretty impossible to stuff it up. And after the great skincare renaissance of 2020 (and the subsequent burnt/irritated complexions) simplicity is certainly key.
According to PhD scientist and skincare educator Dr. Michele Squire, topical niacinamide works in multiple skin processes, hence the variety of benefits – including sebum inhibition, increased epidermal lipids, reduced inflammation, increased collagen production, increased dermal elasticity and reduced pigmentation.
There’s certainly no shortage of products out there containing the wonder ingredient, but they’re not one of the same. The form they come in, and what they’re formulated with can alter the effect they have on the skin, so it’s important to chose something that aligns with your skincare goals. That’s why we’ve compiled seven of the best on the market and classified as so.
Keep scrolling for your perfect niacinamide formula.
BEST FOR post-acne hyperpigmentation: medik8 CLARITY PEPTIDES
This targeted serum contains 10% niacinamide along with zinc PCA, hyaluronic acid and n-acetyl glucosamine (an enzyme that prevents melanin transfer) to soothe the skin and reduce the incidence of dark spots, especially those that occur after a breakout. While it’s great all-over the complexion, it also works as a spot treatment. Team it with salicylic acid to clear breakouts and prevent marks from forming.
medik8 CLARITY PEPTIDES, $89. shop now
BEST FOR pores and skin texture: PAULA’S CHOICE 10% niacinamide booster
If your goal is to refine the look of your complexion and reduce the size of pores, this 10% niacinamide booster from Paula’s Choice is a really good option. It also contains vitamin C, licorice and allantoin for antioxidant protection, so work it into your morning skincare routine underneath moisturisers and SPF. Dedicated use will give you calmer, clearer skin.
PAULA’S CHOICE 10% niacinamide booster, $62. shop now
BEST budget: THE ORDINARY niacinamide 10% + zinc 1%
Niacinamide is great for acne-prone skin types, especially when combined with zinc (they work together to calm inflammation and balance sebum). You’ll still need a dedicated pore unclogging ingredient (like a BHA or benzyl peroxide) but the addition of The Ordinary’s serum will balance and soothe. Plus, it’s less than $10, and who are we to argue with that.
THE ORDINARY niacinamide 10% + zinc 1%, $10. shop now
BEST FOR dehydrated skin: ultraceuticals ULTRA B2 HYDRATING SERUM
Dehydrated skin types are those who lack water, so first things first – drink more. Secondly, get yourself a skin-quenching serum such as this one from Ultraceuticals. There’s vitamin B3 (niacinamide) to refine, V5 (panthenol) to soothe, plus hyaluronic acid to really amp up skin water content. Press it into a damp face after cleansing and top with a moisturiser.
And hot tip: this is a really gentle product choice for dehydrated skin that’s also acne-prone (i.e. there’s no fragrance, essential oils or heavy, occlusive ingredients that could lead to congestion).
ultraceuticals ULTRA B2 HYDRATING SERUM, $102. shop now
BEST FOR really dry skin: Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial™
This hyped mask from Drunk Elephant contains a cocktail of really nourishing ingredients to give dry skin some much needed love. There’s ceramides to promote barrier strength, niacinamide to calm, vitamin F to enhance skin water content, jojoba, glycerin and other plant oils to replenish and give dried out skin some bounce. Use it as a biweekly leave on treatment if you’re perpetually dry and irritated.
Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial™, $79. shop now
best for skin clarity: Rationale #1 The Serum
Rationale is a brand that prides itself on its ability to restore clarity to even the most dull complexions, and this niacinamide-rich serum is key. It contains B-group vitamins and lipids to nourish and calm, plus the milky texture feels super luxurious. It is heavy in terms of fragrance though, so if you’re sensitive in that respect, steer clear.
rationale #1 The Serum, $174. shop now