Anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory, with antioxidant properties and more, niacinamide is a potent ingredient with multiple benefits for your skin. Image Credit: Shutterstock

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In the world of skincare, trendy ingredients come and go. But there have always been a few workhorses that have risen above the rest, and remain tried and true.

Niacinamide is one such ingredient. Also known as vitamin B3, it’s a versatile addition to skincare that’s known to strengthen the skin’s barrier, reduce redness and irritation, and help regulate oily skin. It’s both an antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties, and is beneficial for all skin types.

We spoke with Dr Raja, a general practitioner with a special interest in dermatology, at Derma Aesthetics London, in Dubai, who shed some light on this powerhouse ingredient. What’s the best way to incorporate niacinamide serums into your skincare routine? Scroll down to read our expert’s advice.

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Based on his recommendations, and hundreds of reviews on Amazon, we’ve curated a list of the best niacinamide products to bring into your daily routine. Get Prime membership to turbocharge your skincare as early as tomorrow and enjoy Beauty Week discounts.

1. Best Overall: Paula's Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster 

Dr Raja highlighted this popular niacinamide serum by Paula’s Choice, for its unique multi-tasking properties. The serum minimises pores, even as it brightens complexion, hydrates and restores elasticity, and reduces signs of ageing. It’s formulated with potent ingredients: 10 per cent niacinamide to minimise pores and even out the skin’s tone; vitamin C to fade dark spots and boost antioxidant protection; allantoin and licorice extract to calm redness and other signs of irritation. You can use this booster alone, or add a couple of drops to your moisturiser twice a day. Reviewers with sensitive skin love the lightweight, water-like texture of the serum, and quick, visible results with no accompanying flare-ups.

2. Best Budget: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% (Pack of 3) 

As one of Dr Raja’s top recommendations, The Ordinary’s Niacinamide serum comprises a high-strength vitamin and mineral blemish formula that’s ideal for oily skin types. A little goes a long way – just a few drops are all it takes to spread the formula all over your face and neck. You may feel your skin tightening slightly right after application, but adding a layer of moisturiser is a quick fix. Reviewers report visibly brighter skin and fewer breakouts, thanks to the serum, but do note that you have to be consistent with use – it takes a couple of weeks for you to see results.

3. Best for Discolouration: La Roche-Posay Mela B3 Serum 

If you want to reduce discolouration, post-acne marks, or stubborn dark spots, consider La Roche-Posay’s Mela B3 Serum. After 18 years of research, the brand has introduced an innovative new molecule called Melasyl into this formula, to help fight the appearance of dark spots. Combined with antioxidant thermal spring water, 10 per cent niacinamide, and lipohydroxy acid (LHA), which has exfoliating and acne-treating properties, it’s a powerful anti-ageing serum that clarifies the skin, evens out its tone and reveals a brighter complexion.

4. Best Anti-Ageing: Caudalie Premier Cru Anti-Ageing Serum 

Packed with potent ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, firming sugars and niacinamide, Caudalie’s Premier Cru serum targets eight signs of ageing. The formula is intensely hydrating because of the large concentration of hyaluronic acid, so you can expect to feel plumper, firmer skin within days of use. Reviewers say they only need one or two pumps of serum for their entire face and neck, so the bottle lasts for a long time. Many compliment Caudalie’s silky texture, saying the formula absorbs quickly into the skin, leaving it clearer, tighter, softer and more even in tone than before.

5. Best for Radiance: Drunk Elephant B-Goldi Bright Drops 

For dull skin, TikTok-trending Drunk Elephant’s B-Goldi Bright Drops are a revelation. This illuminating serum is formulated with five per cent niacinamide, which reduces uneven tone and texture, and minimises fine lines and wrinkles. It also features diglucosyl gallic acid, which prevents excess melanin production and soothes the skin, and mulberry leaf, which improves hyperpigmentation. The overall result is brighter skin with a slightly shimmery finish, thanks to the inclusion of light-reflecting pigments. Reviewers say the serum doesn’t just sort out uneven skin tone, it also acts like a highlighter, making it a versatile addition to their skincare routine, for a quick pick-me-up.

6. Best for Oil Control: Naturium Niacinamide Serum 12% Plus Zinc 2% 

With over 13,000 4.5-star reviews on Amazon, and frequent appearances on trending lists, Naturium’s concentrated serum combines potent hydrators with powerful antioxidants and naturally derived salts. As a result, it helps refine uneven texture, balances excess sebum production, and purifies congested skin, so you can say goodbye to excessively shiny, oily skin and enlarged pores. The formula also includes hyaluronic acid, which draws in moisture and gives the skin a plumper, more youthful look. Reviewers love the lightweight serum, and say it works well when used with a moisturiser and layered with sunscreen.

7. Best for Hydration: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops 

Rich in niacinamide, which minimises pores, soothes the skin, and revives dullness, Glow Recipe’s Dew Drops is ideal if you’re looking for an instant glow. Unlike watery serums, this formula has a thin, buildable gel texture that spreads easily over the skin, making it an excellent make-up primer or base for other skincare products. Some reviewers even use it as a liquid highlighter to give themselves a glossy finish after applying make-up. It’s enriched with hyaluronic acid, which is responsible for its bouncy, supple and dewy results. Do note that this product has a watermelon scent – which most reviewers say is pleasant and non-irritating – but it may not appeal to everyone.

What exactly is niacinamide and how does it benefit the skin?

Easy to apply and well-suited for all skin types, niacinamide serums can easily be incorporated into your existing skincare regimen. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Offering a wide range of benefits for the skin, niacinamide is available in concentrations from 2 to 20 per cent, in the form of serums. But what exactly is it?

Dr Raja explains: “Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is a versatile ingredient known for its ability to improve the overall health and appearance of the skin. Niacinamide works to strengthen the skin's natural barrier, enhancing its ability to retain moisture and protect against environmental damage. This helps to reduce transepidermal water loss and keep the skin hydrated.”

Apart from acting as an emollient, niacinamide has a host of other benefits. Dr Raja added: “[It] is renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties, making it effective in reducing redness, irritation, and blotchiness. It also helps regulate sebum production, making it beneficial for oily and acne-prone skin. Furthermore, niacinamide can improve skin texture, minimise pore size, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, contributing to a smoother and more youthful complexion.”

Who is a niacinamide serum for?

Because it’s a jack of all trades – anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, hydrating, strengthening, anti-ageing, and more – niacinamide’s versatility appeals to most people. These serums are suitable for a range of skin types.

Dr Raja said: “It is particularly beneficial for those with sensitive, oily, or acne-prone skin due to its anti-inflammatory and sebum-regulating properties. People with dry skin can also benefit from niacinamide because it strengthens the skin barrier and enhances moisture retention. Mature skin can gain significant advantages from niacinamide as well, as it helps to improve skin elasticity, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, and even out skin tone. Overall, niacinamide is an excellent choice for anyone looking to improve their skin’s texture, clarity, and overall health, making it a valuable component in both preventative and corrective skincare routines.”

What should I look out for, when buying niacinamide serums?

Before you select a niacinamide serum, however, it’s worth considering some key factors to ensure you’re getting the best possible match for your skin.

Dr Raja broke down important factors to consider:

  • Concentration: Firstly, check the concentration of niacinamide in the serum. "A concentration of five per cent is generally effective for most skin concerns, but those with sensitive skin may prefer lower concentrations (around two to three per cent) to minimise the risk of irritation."
  • Complementary ingredients: "Look for complementary ingredients that can enhance the benefits of niacinamide, such as hyaluronic acid for added hydration, zinc for its anti-inflammatory properties, or peptides for improved skin barrier function."
  • Texture: The texture of the serum is also important. Dr Raja said: "It should be lightweight and easily absorbed to avoid clogging pores and to layer well with other skincare products."
  • Irritants: "Finally, you should choose products that are free from potential irritants like fragrances, alcohol, and harsh preservatives, especially if you have sensitive skin."

Once you’ve picked the right serum, it’s time to add it to your skincare routine. The serum can be applied both in the morning and evening, since it’s usually well-tolerated, says Dr Raja. But he added a caveat: “However, if you are using other active ingredients like retinoids or acids, it's best to introduce niacinamide gradually to avoid potential irritation.”

Our expert explained the best way to add the serum into your daily regimen: “Incorporating niacinamide into your skincare routine is straightforward and can enhance the effectiveness of other products. Begin by cleansing your face thoroughly and applying a toner if you use one. Next, apply the niacinamide serum to slightly damp skin, as this can improve absorption. Follow with your usual moisturiser to lock in hydration and complete your routine with sunscreen during the day.”

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.