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Dealing with, well, pretty much any kind of complexion concern? Odds are good that niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3, is a solution—it can do pretty much anything and everything. “Niacinamide is a versatile skincare ingredient that’s beneficial for a wide range of skin conditions,” explains board-certified dermatologist Dr. Annie Gonzalez of Riverchase Dermatology, adding that it helps the skin produce more ceramides, ingredients that are essential for maintaining a strong and healthy skin barrier.
As if that wasn't enough, niacinamide is also anti-inflammatory, great for those with acne, and can help combat hyperpigmentation and even help smooth lines and wrinkles. The cherry on top of the sundae is the fact that it’s gentle enough for those with sensitive skin. You'll often find it used in conjunction with other active ingredients.
Ready to try this superstar ingredient? Find it in the best niacinamide products, below.
Best Overall: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster
This mix-in is the perfect way to work niacinamide into your existing skincare routine. The name says it all: You get a potent 10% concentration of niacinamide in a lightweight booster that also touts a few other key ingredients. There are skin-soothers such as licorice root and allantoin, plus antioxidant-rich vitamin C. The formula is super sheer and works great on its own, though you can also mix in a few drops into your favorite serum or moisturizer.
Best Drugstore: La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Pure Retinol Serum
Here, niacinamide is paired with retinol, another skincare heavy-hitter, to create an effective anti-aging formula. It’s ideal for both smoothing and hydrating the skin—plus, not only do niacinamide and retinol work synergistically, but the former helps counteract the potentially drying side effects of the latter.
What Our Testers Say
"As far as retinol serums are concerned, the value here is incredible. I found it to be super effective, non-irritating, and lovely to use—all qualities I’d expect from a product four times the price." — Emily Algar, Product Tester
Best Serum: Glossier Super Pure
“A 5 percent concentration of niacinamide is combined with zinc, making this a great serum to help combat bacteria and acne,” says Gonzalez of another one of her faves. But even if you're not prone to breakouts, it's a great choice because it balances, smoothes, and hydrates the skin. Gonzalez also points out that it has an almost water-like texture that absorbs quickly without ever feeling sticky or tacky and layers nicely with other serums and moisturizers, a boon for those who like to mix and match.
Best Moisturizer: Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
A true all-in-one, this moisturizer both effectively moisturizes and helps ward off signs of aging. Niacinamide is at the top of the ingredient list (a tell-tale sign that you’re getting an effective amount in the formula), and it’s also paired with hydrating hyaluronic acid and skin-smoothing and firming peptides too. It’s no surprise that this is a total cult classic.
Best Sunscreen: Colorescience All Calm Clinical Redness Corrector SPF 50
Pricey, yes, but Gonzalez says this multitasking sunscreen is worth every penny. Along with being a mineral sunscreen that’s gentle on sensitive skin, niacinamide helps to tamp down redness and inflammation. Bonus points for the subtle green tint that instantly neutralizes ruddiness, a great choice for those with rosacea, she says.
Best Night Cream: EltaMD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer
Gonzalez is a fan of this PM powerhouse, which she lauds for containing niacinamide and linoleic acid to help calm inflammation and protect the skin barrier overnight. She also points out that it’s both oil- and fragrance-free, a great pick for those with acne-prone and/or sensitive skin alike.
Best for Dark Spots: TruAlchemy Spot Check
Niacinamide is well-known for being an effective ingredient to help fade existing spots and ward off new ones by interfering with the production of melanin (AKA pigment). Here, it works underneath the surface of the skin to do that, while a special trio of acids (glycolic, lactic, and phytic) dissolve the dead and discolored cells on top of the skin. Also nice: It’s fragrance-, paraben-, and dye-free.
Best Toner: Good Molecules Niacinamide Brightening Toner
“This toner is formulated with a stable form of vitamin C, which works in conjunction with niacinamide to help reduce hyperpigmentation by protecting the skin from free radicals and blocking the production of melanin or pigment,” explains Gonalez. It’s alcohol-free, so there’s no need to worry about it being dry or irritating, even if your skin is on the sensitive side.
Best Mask: GlamGlow InstaMud 60 Second Pore-Refining Treatment
True to its name, this purifying mask gets the job done in just 60 seconds, leaving skin looking plumper and more even-toned, says Gonzalez, who is a fan. It’s packed with a lot of pore-cleansing ingredients (think: witch hazel and two kinds of clay), while niacinamide provides anti-inflammatory benefits and calming aloe vera ensures that your skin feels smooth and clean post-application.
Best Sheet Mask: andLAB Niacinamide 2% + B5 Hydrating Mask
If you prefer a sheet mask, check out this guy. The K-beauty mask combines niacinamide with super hydrating vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid, a triple threat that will quench even the most parched skin, stat.
Best for Acne-Prone Skin: Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion
It may be the salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxides of the world that get all the love and attention when it comes to acne-fighting, but niacinamide definitely deserves a spot on that list, too. It’s great for combating inflammation (buh-bye red, swollen, painful blemishes), and you don’t have to worry about any drying side effects, as you do with other acne ingredients. Here, it’s paired with zinc oxide, which helps absorb excess oil and keep pores clear in a lightweight liquid that’s easy to work into your skincare routine. Bonus points for the fact that it works super quickly to minimize the look of pimples.
Best Eye Cream: First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Niacinamide Brightening Eye Cream
As a general rule of thumb, you have to be careful when using potent skincare actives around your eyes (given that the skin here is more delicate and prone to irritation), but niacinamide is totally okay to use near your peepers. We’re partial to this formula, which has niacinamide to help even skin over time and provides a subtle, light-reflecting tint to instantly improve the look of dark circles—all while adding plenty of hydration, of course.
Niacinamide is a great skincare ingredient for pretty much anyone and everyone. Overall, Paula’s Choice's 10% Niacinamide Booster is our favorite niacinamide product, perfect to use either on its own or mixed in with your go-to serum or moisturizer. Speaking of, the La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Serum and Glossier Super Pure Niacinamide + Zinc Serum are two of our go-to niacinamide-based serums; the former is great for anti-aging, while the latter for acne-prone skin. It’s also a great idea to seek out the ingredient in an eye cream—First Aid Beauty's Eye Duty Niacinamide Brightening Eye Cream is our go-to in that category, delivering both instant and long-term effects.
What to Look For in a Niacinamide Product
Some products do specify it, in which case you should ideally seek out a 4 to 5 percent concentration of niacinamide, says Gonzalez. If the concentration isn't listed, check the ingredient label; ideally, it should be listed as one of the few first ingredients to make sure you’re getting enough of it.
Niacinamide is great in and of itself, of course, but the nice thing about this ingredient is that it plays well in the sandbox with pretty much all other ingredients. Think about which benefits you’d like to get the most out of it and look for formulas that contain other ingredients that do the same thing. In other words, if you want to use it for skin barrier-strengthening reasons, look for a product that also contains ceramides.
Can I use niacinamide every day?
Is niacinamide or vitamin C better for skin?
Both niacinamide and vitamin C are used to address hyperpigmentation and are usually well-tolerated by many skin types, though vitamin C has been known to cause mild irritation. They are often used together in many product formulas. If your skin is very sensitive, you might want to stick with niacinamide versus vitamin C.
Do dermatologists recommend niacinamide?
Yes. As Dr. Gonzales tells us, niacinamide can help address myriad skin concerns, from hyperpigmentation to acne to dryness. Because it's widely tolerated and beneficial for many skin types, derms often recommend it.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has more than a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. Because she has super sensitive skin, she often has issues with some of the more potent skincare active ingredients, but happily, both she and her skin love niacinamide and the results it delivers.
Meet the Expert
Dr. Annie Gonzalez is a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami, FL. Her specialties include both adult and pediatric dermatology and chronic skin conditions.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find any niacinamide products from a Black-owned and/or Black-founded business. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will evaluate the product ASAP.