You’re probably familiar with niacinamide. Even if you don’t know how to pronounce it (guilty!), you’ve definitely seen it advertised as the star of your favorite serums. Niacinamide is an impressive, versatile ingredient—no wonder it’s all the rage these days. And, in the spirit of not gatekeeping, I’m always ready and willing to talk about the best niacinamide serums I’ve come across.

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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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