The 10 Best Niacinamide Serums for Brightening, According to Dermatologists


This versatile ingredient controls sebum, reduces redness, and brightens skin. Niacinamide has become one of the hottest skincare buzzwords on the market, and for good reason. Super active ingredients treat multiple skin concerns at once. That’s why it’s important to include the best niacinamide serum in your skin care routine. 

This ingredient is a form of vitamin B3 and can be used alone in facial serums and creams, but it works better when combined with other skin-boosting ingredients. “B3 is an essential nutrient your body needs,” says Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare. 

"Nicotinamide can do just about anything, and with little to no irritation, it's a very well-rounded ingredient," says Elyse Love M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. "This powerful ingredient is soothing. 

Skin barrier, reducing common irritations for a range of skin problems, helping to improve skin's overall hydration, reduce oiliness, and provide a more even skin tone," she explains. 

PhD. Patel also adds that the ingredient has significant brightening effects "because it affects melanocytes, which are cells that play a role in skin pigmentation." That's why you'll want to check out the ingredients designed to fight discoloration and soothe acne. Find it in scar products. 

Plus, since niacinamide can reduce irritation, "it can lessen the effects of other anti-aging ingredients that may irritate the skin, such as wrinkle-smoothing retinol or exfoliating alpha-hydroxy acids," adds Dr. Patel added. Now that you know the facts about this ingredient, you can give your skin the glow it deserves. Here are the best niacinamide serums you can try, according to experts and shoppers. 

1. Ordinary niacinamide 10% + zinc 1%: "This is one of the best options on the market, and another benefit is that it's affordable," says Dr. like. “It combines the powerful ingredient niacinamide with zinc, another great anti-inflammatory and soothing ingredient.” 

At under $10, you can’t beat the price… not to mention it’s lightweight and safe for acne-prone skin , cruelty-free, and vegan, stresses Dr. like. "Go all over your face morning and night before applying a heavier cream or moisturizer," she advises. 

What the review says: "I've been using this serum for two years and can't live without it," said one reviewer. "I can honestly say my skin has never looked better and I rarely get breakouts anymore." 

2. Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster: This booster contains 10% Niacinamide to fight uneven skin tone. It also helps shrink pores and improve texture. Licorice extract fights redness, while vitamin C further brightens the complexion. Add two to three drops of this silky serum to your moisturizer (or dab onto skin) at night and during the day for best results. 

What the review says: "This has helped me strengthen my skin barrier and I love using it in conjunction with my prescription retinoids." 

3. Glossier Ultra Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum: This serum is so lightweight that you can barely feel it on your skin. It contains niacinamide and zinc PCA (which helps reduce clogged pores). These two ingredients are the ideal combination to balance oil production and keep pores clear while retaining needed moisture. 
Since it is fragrance-free, it will not cause skin irritation. 

Review reads: "My teenage daughter and I both use this serum. We have different issues to deal with: mine is dryness and hers is acne. After a week of use, we both noticed a difference in our skin. improved.” 


4. Inkey List Niacinamide Serum: Containing 10% niacinamide, this serum is affordable, effective, and a fan favorite. Not only does niacinamide reduce oil production and fight blemishes, it can also reduce redness caused by acne. 

In addition, the hyaluronic acid ingredient has a moisturizing effect without leaving a greasy feeling. 

What the review says: "I absolutely love this product! It really helps with my oil production and keeps my skin tone even!" 


5. SkinCeuticals Metacell Update B3: This serum is formulated with niacinamide to fight dark spots, plumping peptides, and hydrating but non-greasy glycerin. This product is a blend of lotion and serum that refreshes your skin the moment you smooth it. 

This moisturizer is suitable for all skin types and is free of sulfates, parabens, fragrance and phthalates. 

What the review says: "This product contains 5% niacinamide, which I had to find. It feels silky smooth and provides great hydration." 

6. La Roche-Posay Pure Retinol Facial Serum with Vitamin B3: If you haven't found your daily serum yet, this pure retinol face and neck serum is your dream come true. After using this product, skin immediately feels smoother, hydrated and refreshed. 

With over 7,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, it’s also a favorite among customers. 

What the review says: "This serum didn't cause any irritation or flaking on my sensitive skin. It smoothed the texture and made my skin more radiant." 

7. Glowing formula: Watermelon Glowing Niacinamide Dew Drops: Glow Recipe's Niacinamide-enriched Brightening Serum not only smells and looks good, but it works great too! It's a first-of-its-kind fluorescent skin care product that helps brighten skin for an instant glow while reducing the appearance of hyperpigmentation. 

The brand claims that 97% of users agree that the product makes skin look more radiant, making it perfect for day and night use. 

What the review says: "I love everything about this product. It smells exactly like watermelon and feels amazing on my skin," said one shopper. "I look forward to using it every day and I wish I could shower in it." 

8. Peter Thomas Roth PRO Powerful Niacinamide Discoloration Treatment: If you're focused on restoring skin's radiance and eliminating discoloration, this niacinamide complex contains a variety of brightening agents. In addition to niacinamide, there's tranexamic acid (which helps reduce the appearance of dark spots) and kojic acid (which is used for whitening) to counteract discoloration, says Dr. Patel. Most positive reviews say the product helps fade scars, acne marks, and hyperpigmentation while improving skin texture. 

What the review says: "I love this product! After only a week of use, my age spots are almost gone. My skin looks beautiful, even, fresh, and youthful." 

9. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Niacinamide Anti-Spot Serum: "I love this lightweight serum, formulated with niacinamide and licorice root (which helps soothe and brighten skin) for radiant skin," says Dr. like. "It's effective at reducing dark spots, sun spots, hyperpigmentation, and post-acne scarring." 

For best results, she recommends using it in the morning (followed by SPF) and at night (followed by moisturizer). 

What the review says: "First Aid Beauty's Niacinamide Spot Treatment Serum works very slowly and gently to lighten dark spots," one shopper wrote. "I am delighted with the changes in my skin and the price is very reasonable for a product of this quality." 

10. CeraVe Revitalizing Retinol Serum
Retinol stimulates skin cell turnover, revealing fresh skin beneath the surface and helps fade dark spots and red spots. Niacinamide is added to brighten skin and prevent the potential irritating effects of retinol. Testers loved its silky texture and thought it reduced the appearance of acne scars and melasma. 

What the review says: "It definitely evened out my skin tone and minimized the size of my pores, and I'm not getting paid to say this."

How to Choose (and Use) the Best Niacinamide Serum
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Check the ingredient list: 

No matter what it says on the package, it's a good idea to scan the ingredient label and look for "niacinamide" -- not niacin. "Niacin is thought to convert into niacinamide, but niacin can cause skin flushing and redness," says Dr. patel.

Use morning and night: The good news is that niacinamide is mild enough to be used every morning and night. As with any serum, be sure to use it after cleansing (to remove makeup, dirt, and oil) and before moisturizing (so it blends in more easily and can penetrate the skin). "I personally incorporate it into my skin care routine and recommend it to my patients on a regular basis," says Dr. like. 

Stick with niacinamide serums instead of creams: "The vitamin is water-soluble and absorbs most effectively into the skin in serum form," explains Dr. patel.

Look for 2 to 10 percent niacinamide: “An effective serum should contain 2 to 10 percent niacinamide,” says board-certified dermatologist Annie Gonzalez, MD, of Riverchase Dermatology in Miami.
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