The 10 Best Niacinamide Serums for Treating Acne to Dark Spots

Niacinamide isn't the easiest word to pronounce, but that hasn't kept it off of dermatologists' and skincare enthusiasts' lips. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide has become extremely popular in recent years because it's safe for all skin types, offers a handful of benefits, and plays nice with a number of other popular ingredients, including retinol.

"Niacinamide has been shown in several studies to help reduce some signs of skin aging, particularly skin tone and texture," says Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified cosmetic and medical dermatologist in New York City. "Some studies have found that it may help reduce the appearance of age spots and other forms of skin discoloration."

In addition, Dr. King says niacinamide is also a potent antioxidant that can help minimize hyperpigmentation and reduce redness. The ingredient also boosts the production of ceramides, which helps strengthen the skin barrier and prevent loss of moisture.

Given all of its benefits, it's easy to understand why niacinamide keeps popping up in products. Another reason? It can counteract irritation caused by active ingredients for common skin issues like acne, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide.

"Many acne-fighting ingredients like retinoids, salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, can be drying and irritating, so it can be helpful to combine ingredients like this with ingredients like niacinamide that support the skin barrier and improve moisture levels and tone and texture," Dr. King explains.

While skincare brands have been adding vitamin B3 to moisturizers, oils, and masks, it's most commonly found in skincare serums.

A niacinamide serum can be used daily. And while the ingredient doesn't tend to cause irritation or inflammation, it's still a good idea to look for a formulation that contains 5% niacinamide or less to start.

"Niacinamide is actually typically tested and shown to provide benefits at concentrations between 2% to 5%," says Gloria Lu, cosmetic chemist and co-founder of Chemist Confessions. "Nowadays, products are getting pretty crazy with the niacinamide percentages and now 10% is the new normal starting point. Niacinamide shouldn't cause the 'purge' effect that you typically hear about with retinoids, and instead, we would say that's more a sign of irritation."

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With that in mind, we've rounded up 10 niacinamide serums to add to your routine, whether you're looking to fade hyperpigmentation or minimize dehydration.

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PCA Skin Vitamin B3 Brightening Serum

Formulated for all skin types, this antioxidant-rich serum has a gel-like texture with a non-greasy finish. Along with niacinamide and glycerin, the plant-based extracts work harmoniously to strengthen the skin barrier to prevent dehydration, reduce redness, brighten dark spots and minimize fine lines. 

The Ordinary Nicinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

This ridiculously affordable serum contains a whopping 10% niacinamide, along with 1% zinc. Together, these ingredients help reduce acne, clogged pores, and excess oil, making it ideal for oily, combination, and acne-prone skin. 

Bliss Glow & Hydrate Day Serum

Thanks to a tag team effort by niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, Bliss’ daytime serum hydrates skin, plus minimizes dullness and zits for an allover glow. 

Dieux Deliverance Soothing Trinity Serum

Dieux’s first serum targets the trinity of skincare concerns: fine lines, irritation, and uneven skin tone. Along with niacinamide, the formula includes a clinically-studied cannabinoid complex and peptides, water lily extract, and white tea to soothe, firm, and brighten skin. While the serum does sell out every time it’s restocked, you can always sign up for the waitlist.

Kate Somerville Kx Active Concentrates Vitamin B3 + Vitamin C Serum

Experiencing post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation from past breakouts? This niacinamide and vitamin C-powered serum targets uneven skin tone and texture, for a smoother, brighter complexion over time. 

Paula’s Choice Niacinamide 20% Treatment

For niacinamide veterans, Paula’s Choice offers a serum with 20% concentration of the ingredient. It’s supported by vitamin C, green tea, and acetyl glucosamine to improve texture, brighten tone, and reduce the look of pores. 

Epi.Logic Daily Dose Vitamin C +

No skincare routine is complete without SPF and antioxidant protection, and Epi.Logic’s serum has the later covered. It’s packed with antioxidants to protect against free radicals, which in turn will prevent future fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide and hyaluronic acid lend a moisturized, glowy finish. 

Olay Deep Hydration Serum

Think of this drugstore pick as a tall glass of water for dry or dehydrated skin. According to the brand, the combo of hyaluronic acid and niacinamide will boost skin health for a glowier complexion in two weeks with daily use.

First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Dark Spot Serum

Sometimes, dealing with hyperpigmentation can feel like a never-ending cycle — especially if you have acne-prone skin that gets post-inflammatory dark spots. This gentle, yet effective serum is a mix of tried-and-true brightening ingredients to reduce the look of hyperpigmentation and discoloration, while simultaneously soothing and protecting skin from free radical damage. 

Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

You don’t need to completely switch up your skincare routine in order to experience the benefits of niacinamide. These dew drops by Glow Recipe can be added to any one of your current favorite skincare products or used on their own for a glowy boost. 

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