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The Best Niacinamide Serums for Radiant, Clear Skin

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Written by Jenna Cartusciello
Mature woman apply serum on skin, self massage at home

Why add a niacinamide serum to your skincare routine? There are so many face products on the market, from double cleansers to retinol creams to chemical exfoliants, that adding yet another product to a lengthy regimen can instantly feel overwhelming. However, niacinamide is an all-important ingredient that benefits just about every skin type, and adding it to your routine can actually simplify things — that singular ingredient takes care of a wide variety of skin woes.

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) is primarily used as a skin brightener, but it also improves your skin barrier by increasing keratin (a protein) in the skin’s outer layer, or epidermis. In effect, this vitamin may improve your skin barrier’s function and thereby prevent water loss and oily skin. To top it all off, niacinamide reduces inflammation, soothes irritation, brightens skin tone, smooths rough texture and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Sold on the benefits of niacinamide? We are, too! Below, learn more about the power of niacinamide and which niacinamide serums we recommend.

The Best Niacinamide Serums for Radiant, Clear Skin

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Finding the Best Niacinamide Serums

The right niacinamide serum is not only one that doesn’t cause irritation, but also one that fits into your skincare routine. For instance, you might prefer a daytime formula if your nighttime regimen is set and you don’t want to change it. Or you may want your serum to contain additional ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid for moisture or vitamin C for an extra bright boost.

In effect, you can use a niacinamide serum to simplify your routine rather than complicate it, especially if it contains other beneficial ingredients. Get a better idea of how to pick the right product below.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Niacinamide Serums


While niacinamide is a gentle skincare ingredient, it’s best not to use a serum with a concentration greater than 10%, especially if you are a beginner or have sensitive skin. Concentrations at 10% or more may cause (rather than ease) irritation and redness.

So, what’s the optimal amount? Generally, a range between 2% and 5% is ideal. (Indeed, a 2013 study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology found that a 5% concentration eased skin inflammation from UV exposure.) However, a 10% niacinamide formula may be effective if you gradually incorporate it into your routine or apply it on top of your moisturizer.


The other ingredients in a niacinamide serum can make or break your skincare routine, so it’s important to pay attention to them. Beneficial add-ins include zinc for acne, rosacea or eczema, hyaluronic acid for moisture, vitamin C for brightness and reducing damage from UV rays, ceramides and peptides to improve your skin barrier and vitamin E to help heal and strengthen the skin barrier.

Ingredients you may want to avoid, especially if you have sensitive skin, include fragrance, essential oils, alcohol, artificial colorants and irritating preservatives like diazolidinyl urea and imidazolidinyl urea. More gentle preservatives (green flags) include sodium benzoate and phenoxyethanol.


Do you struggle with allergies or sensitive skin? If so, not every niacinamide serum will work for you. We recommend starting with a serum that contains 5% niacinamide or less and other soothing, gentle ingredients, like aloe vera or hyaluronic acid.

It’s also important to perform a skin patch test before applying a new product to your face. To do: Dab a small amount of the serum onto your inner wrist and let sit for at least 15 minutes. If you don’t see any signs of irritation or an allergic reaction, it should be okay to use.


Niacinamide serum works well with a wide variety of other skincare products, but it could cause excess sensitivity and irritation if it’s incorrectly paired with certain ingredients. For instance, applying a niacinamide serum immediately after using a chemical exfoliant toner, such as salicylic acid toner, could cause skin barrier damage.

If you want to use niacinamide and a chemical exfoliant at the same time, consider purchasing a serum that contains both. It will be specially formulated and balanced, so your skin is less likely to react.


Unfortunately, niacinamide serums get pricey quickly. Only a few products on the market cost less than $10, and some cost more than $80 for a three to four-ounce bottle. We chose to recommend products between $6 and $60, keeping budget in mind.

What Are the Different Types of Niacinamide Serums?


Some niacinamide serums work best in the morning depending on their ingredients. For example, a lightweight serum that contains vitamin C, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid is a great morning product because it keeps your skin moisturized and protects it from UV ray damage throughout the day. Serums designed for morning use will typically say so on the bottle.


A serum that contains niacinamide and a chemical exfoliant or retinol is best used at night. This is because retinol and chemical exfoliants increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. If you’re using a nighttime niacinamide serum, it’s important to apply a layer of moisturizer on top to replenish your skin’s hydration.


Anytime serums (they might be labeled as “everyday” or “daily”) are products that contain a mix of beneficial ingredients and little to no active ingredients. They won’t increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun, and their relatively gentle ingredients shouldn’t cause irritation after all-day wear.


Best Overall: Beauty of Joseon Serum Line Glow Serum Propolis + Niacinamide


  • Good for beginners
  • Contains propolis which reduces UV damage
  • Available at many stores


  • Low niacinamide dosage might not be effective
  • Pricey
  • A few customers experienced product quality issues

What puts the Beauty of Joseon Serum at the top of our list? It contains a modest 2% concentration of niacinamide, which makes it great for beginners. In addition, it has propolis extract, which has antibacterial properties and reduces damage from UV rays. It’s also readily available at many stores.

However, the low concentration of niacinamide might not do much to brighten your skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines or minimize inflammation. This serum is also a little pricey, and a few people have experienced product quality issues.


Best Budget: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1% Serum


  • Reduces inflammation
  • Brightens acne scars
  • Keeps acne at bay


  • Strong for sensitive skin
  • Slightly sticky
  • Shiny finish

While The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1% Serum has a high concentration of niacinamide, which could cause irritation in very sensitive skin, this product is at the top of our recommendations for several reasons. It not only reduces inflammation and the appearance of large pores but also brightens acne scars. Zinc also reduces acne-inducing oil production and keeps breakouts at bay.

The downsides? This serum feels slightly sticky even after it has dried, and it can leave a shiny finish.


Best Splurge: PSA Visible Improvement Peptides & Niacinamide Serum


  • Plumps skin
  • Treats fine lines, acne and dark spots
  • No shiny finish


  • Doesn’t absorb easily
  • Packaging is not sustainable
  • Not easy to find in stores

If you’re looking for a multipurpose niacinamide serum that treats fine lines, acne and dark spots, try PSA’s Visible Improvement Serum. Peptides help plump the skin while niacinamide treats problem areas. We also like that this serum doesn’t leave a shiny finish.

However, this product doesn’t always absorb easily into the skin. The packaging isn’t environmentally friendly, and it’s not easy to find in stores.


Best for Acne: COSRX The Niacinamide 15% Serum


  • Controls oil production
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Lightweight


  • High niacinamide concentration may irritate skin
  • Runny
  • Glass packaging is not travel friendly

In need of a no-fuss serum that won’t aggravate acne-prone skin? We recommend the COSRX Niacinamide 15% Serum. It helps control your skin’s oil production and sebum, and it reduces inflammation that can contribute to breakouts. We like that this product also contains zinc, which keeps acne in check.

A word of caution: This product has a very high dosage of niacinamide, and it may irritate sensitive skin types (though many reviewers agree that it feels mild). This serum is also very runny, which makes it a little difficult to spread across the skin. While many customers like the glass packaging, it isn’t travel friendly.


Best for Dry Skin: PURITO Centella Unscented Serum


  • Hydrating
  • Peptides plump skin
  • Soothes inflammation


  • Exact niacinamide percentage unknown
  • Pricey
  • Smell may be off-putting

Niacinamide serums can be drying if they don’t have enough moisturizing ingredients, but the PURITO Centella Serum offers plenty of hydration thanks to panthenol, peptides and glycerin. The hero ingredient, centella extract, nourishes skin and soothes inflammation.

While this product contains niacinamide, it doesn’t list the exact percentage. It’s also pricey and a few customers found the smell off-putting.


Best for Oily Skin: Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum 12%


  • Good applicator
  • Smooth formula
  • Reduces breakouts


  • Contains dimethicone
  • Packaging is not sustainable
  • May cause irritation

If you’re hoping to control your skin’s oil production throughout the day, consider the Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum. It has a nice pump applicator and the formula is smooth, making it easy to spread across the face. The high concentration of zinc (2%) also helps reduce breakouts.

However, this product contains dimethicone. Some buyers may like this ingredient for its moisturizing properties, while others may find that it doesn’t let the skin breathe. The packaging is also not environmentally friendly, and the high concentration of niacinamide may cause irritation.


Best for Combination Skin: Ruruberry 10% Niacinamide and Zinc Serum


  • Affordable
  • Reduces oil production
  • Multiple moisturizers to counteract dryness


  • Not available at most retailers
  • Slightly shiny finish
  • Full ingredient list not available on main website

Struggle with both oily and dry skin? Try the Ruruberry Niacinamide and Zinc serum. The high dose of niacinamide effectively reduces oil production while zinc acts as an antimicrobial. To prevent dryness, it also contains multiple moisturizers like xylitol and butylene glycol.

The downsides: This product is hard to come by because it isn’t available at most retailers, and the formula has a mildly shiny finish. The full ingredient list also isn’t available on the main Ruruberry website.


Best for Aging Skin: La Roche Posay Niacinamide 10% Anti-Aging Face Serum


  • Reduces discoloration
  • Lightens acne marks
  • Plumping


  • Contains fragrance and denatured alcohol
  • Contains dimethicone
  • Expensive

For a product that fades dark spots and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, opt for the La Roche Posay Niacinamide Serum. It visibly reduces discoloration and lightens acne marks, and hydrators like glycerin keep the skin moisturized.

However, this product contains fragrance and denatured alcohol, both of which may cause irritation. It also contains dimethicone, which moisturizes the skin but may make it hard for the skin to breathe.


Best for Sensitive Skin: COSRX Niacinamide 5% + Snail Mucin 74% Serum


  • Modest niacinamide concentration
  • Alleviates inflammation
  • Keeps skin moisturized


  • Pump needs improvement
  • Product quality issues
  • Mucus-like snail mucin may be off-putting

If you struggle with irritation, a serum that contains less than 10% niacinamide is a good idea. We like the COSRX Niacinamide and Snail Mucin Serum because it has a 5% concentration. Snail mucin also helps alleviate inflammation and keep the skin well moisturized.

However, the pump applicator could be improved, and a few customers experienced product quality issues. The sticky, mucus-like consistency of the snail mucin is also off-putting for some buyers.


Best for Hyperpigmentation: Cos De Baha Tranexamic Acid 5% Serum with Niacinamide 5%


  • Tranexamic acid helps lighten discoloration
  • Soothing
  • Prevents skin flaking


  • May pill
  • Niacinamide may not be strong enough
  • Slightly tacky finish

Why does this Cos De Baha Serum work so well for hyperpigmentation? It contains not just niacinamide, which brightens skin, but also tranexamic acid, which lightens skin discoloration. In addition, it has soothing aloe vera and allantoin, which prevents flaking.

The downsides: This serum tends to pill, and a few customers found that the niacinamide wasn’t strong enough to treat their issues. It also has a slightly tacky finish.


Best for Acne Scars: TIAM Vita B3 Source


  • Arbutin helps lighten dark spots
  • Smooth application
  • Affordable


  • May be too strong
  • May irritate skin
  • Quality issues on Amazon

Acne hyperpigmentation can take months to go away, but the TIAM Vita B3 Source serum can speed that up to a few weeks. It contains not just niacinamide, but also an ingredient called arbutin to help lighten dark spots. We like that it has a smooth application.

However, a few buyers found this serum to be too strong and irritating, and others experienced quality issues when purchasing on Amazon (such as receiving open bottles).


Best for Rough Skin: numbuzin No.3 Skin Softening Serum


  • Probiotics and toners create plump, soft skin
  • Glides across face
  • Works in AM and PM


  • Not clear how much niacinamide is in product
  • Pricey
  • May not be strong enough

The numbuzin No.3 Serum visibly softens rough skin with not just niacinamide, but also bifida (a probiotic) and galactomyces (a toner). The result is elastic, plump and resilient skin. We also like that this serum glides across the face and works in the AM and PM.

On the other hand, it isn’t clear from the ingredients how much niacinamide is in this serum, though it is likely between 4 and 6%. This product is also pricey, and a few buyers didn’t find it very effective.


Best Nighttime Serum: QRX Niacinamide 5% and Retinol Serum


  • Soothing ingredients
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Affordable


  • Allergic reactions reported
  • Not oil free
  • Some buyers noticed no difference

If you’re looking for a serum that combines niacinamide and retinol (so you don’t have to apply two separate products at night), the QRX serum is the one we recommend. Ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, jojoba oil and hyaluronic acid help alleviate the irritation retinol may cause, while green tea and kale extracts may reduce UV ray damage.

However, a few buyers experienced allergic reactions after applying this product, and others didn’t notice a difference. The formula also isn’t oil free, so it won’t appeal to buyers who have acne.


Best Morning Serum: Bliss Glow and Hydrate Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid Day Serum


  • Contains hyaluronic acid
  • Soothing ingredients
  • Great for everyday use


  • Contains fragrance
  • Pricey
  • Allergic reactions reported

In the morning, it’s best to apply a moisture-rich serum that will keep your skin hydrated throughout the day. The Bliss Glow and Hydrate Serum is an excellent pick because it contains the super hydrator hyaluronic acid, along with soothing ingredients like aloe vera and the antioxidant vitamin E.

The downsides: This product contains fragrance. It’s also pricey and a few customers experienced allergic reactions after using it.


Best Daily: Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum


  • Gentle
  • Brightens and smooths skin
  • Affordable


  • Tacky feel when dry
  • Shiny finish
  • May not be strong enough

If you’re looking to improve your skin texture and even out the tone with a product you can use everyday, try the Good Molecules Niacinamide Serum. It’s gentle enough for frequent use but still effective at brightening and smoothing the skin. We love that the formula is simple and the price is great.

Still, we wish this formula didn’t have a tacky feel and shiny finish when dry. A few buyers have also noticed that the product wasn’t strong enough to make a big difference.

People Also Ask

  • Q: What brand of niacinamide serum is best?

    A:Our top recommendation is the Beauty of Joseon Serum Line Glow Serum Propolis + Niacinamide.

  • Q: How do I choose a niacinamide serum?

    A:Choose a niacinamide serum based on your skin sensitivity, moisture level and acne susceptibility. For sensitive skin, we recommend the COSRX Niacinamide 5% + Snail Mucin 74% Serum. For dry, oily or combination skin, consider the PURITO Centella Unscented Serum, Naturium Niacinamide Face Serum or Ruruberry 10% Niacinamide and Zinc Serum, respectively. Acne-prone skin would benefit from a niacinamide and zinc combination, like The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1% Serum.

  • Q: What is a good percentage of niacinamide in a serum?

    A:Between 2 and 5% is a good niacinamide concentration if you have sensitive skin. Concentrations up to 10% can still be effective, though they are likely to cause irritation if your skin isn’t used to the high dosage.

  • Q: Which is better: niacinamide or hyaluronic acid serum?

    A:It depends on your skin concerns. If you struggle with acne, inflammation, fine lines and wrinkles or rough skin, niacinamide is the way to go. If you have very dry skin or struggle with wrinkles and fine lines, a hyaluronic acid serum may be the better move. You can also use a serum that contains both ingredients, or simply layer a hyaluronic acid cream on top of your niacinamide serum.

  • Q: How much do niacinamide serums cost?

    A:Most niacinamide serums cost between $6 and $100. Our recommendations range between $6 and $60.

Why trust Us

At Us Weekly, we aim to inform readers to make smart purchasing decisions, saving you both time and money. Our editors are obsessed with finding products in a variety of categories from fashion and beauty, to home and fitness.

We try various products, so we can recommend our favorites, and we also summarize feedback and data from other customers. Data, like product reviews and ratings, helps us recommend the best product choices for individual price points and needs.

On top of that, we highlight unique product features for special use cases, ingredients preferences, and more. We strive to make sure you are discovering new products that can make your life easier, while keeping you up to date with the best product choices for types of items you already know and love.

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By Jenna Cartusciello

Affiliate Commerce Writer Jenna loves recommending great products to her friends and family, so helping the rest of the internet on their quest to find the best stuff makes tremendous sense! Though she mainly writes in-depth buyer’s guides these days, Jenna still enjoys crafting the occasional health article. In her spare time, she loves immersing herself in creative writing. Her favorite authors (for anyone who is willing to geek out with her) include Neil Gaiman, Cheryl Strayed, and Jennifer Egan.

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